House approves boost in vehicle registration fees

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The cost of registering a car may be going up.

The House passed a bill Monday that would boost registration fees for most vehicles by $10 to $15 a year. The measure still must pass the Senate.

House Bill 170 would boost annual car and truck license fees to $50. Currently car registration costs $34 a year, and pickup fees are $39. Fees for motorcycles, taxis and other vehicles would also rise under the measure.

The bill, which would raise about $12 million, was introduced at the request of Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Democrats argued against the measure, saying it takes a greater share from low- and middle-income Alaskans' budgets than from the wealthy.

As far as I'm concerned, it's an unfair tax,'' said Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage.

Democrats also argued the registration fees already raise almost four times what is required to fund the Division of Motor Vehicles.

But Rep. Jim Holm, R-Fairbanks, said the bill will help fund maintenance of the state's roads, which currently costs about $65 million a year.

And Rep. Bill Williams, R-Saxman, said legislators must begin to take steps to close the gap between spending and revenue because the state is just two or three years away from depleting its constitutional budget reserve, a state savings account.

We all have to tighten up our belts and make the hard decisions,'' Williams said. What are we going to do two years down the road when we say we can't afford to put anymore money into education, we can't afford to take care of the poor, we can't afford to take care of the seniors.''

Not all Republicans backed the Republican governor's bill.

Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, said the state should be trying to spend less, instead of raising fees.

The bill passed the House 23-17. Opposing it were Reps. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage; Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage; Crawford; Eric Croft, D-Anchorage; Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River; Les Gara, D-Anchorage; Carl Gatto, R-Palmer; Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage; David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks; Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue; Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel; Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau; Kohring; Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon; Beverly Masek, R-Willow; Carl Moses, D-Unalaska; and Bill Stoltze, R-Eagle River.

The bill is part of a $113 million package of tax and fee bills Murkowski introduced this year aimed at narrowing the gap between spending and revenue.

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