Ballot measure gives Alaska a fair share

Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Alaskans can apply fair taxes and pollution controls to the billion-dollar cruise ship industry by passing Ballot Measure 2 on Aug. 22.

Measure 2 will establish a statewide tax of $50 per passenger to help maintain and improve the waterfront facilities used by the cruise industry every day. Alaska communities shouldn’t bear the whole burden through local taxes. A $50 head tax is less than 1.5 percent of the cost of an average one-week cruise (ticket, airfare, shopping, tours, alcohol, gambling, etc.,) and less than we pay for one tank of gas.

Alaska has the best seafood in the world and Measure 2 will help keep it that way by requiring cruise ship compliance with all Alaska pollution rules like every other industrial and municipal discharger. Convicted felons shouldn’t be the least regulated and monitored dischargers into public waters.

Ballot Measure 2 will require cruise lines pay taxes on all Alaska-based income and tax their gambling profits at a level equal to the charitable giving/taxes paid by all other Alaska gaming operations. Measure 2 will require cruise lines communicate honestly with passengers about commission rates for promoting shore-side retailers. Passengers deserve to know that businesses must pay exorbitant commissions to appear on ships preferred merchant lists, and that the local businesses that can’t or choose not to pay are blacklisted. No reporting will be required of shore-side businesses.

Alaskans are receiving numerous misleading mailers from the cruise industry claiming that the measure attacks the Alaska tourism economy. Ironically, the words cruise ship never appear in the ads. Passing Ballot Measure 2 will tell the cruise lines they are welcome to come but must pay their fair share; and demonstrate that Alaska is open for business but not for sale.

Gershon Cohen


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