I loved working in Alaska’s tourism industry. I thought it would be a lifetime pursuit. That was not meant to be. My tourism career abruptly ended in 2009 after a 25-year career. There were two primary reasons for this. The first, Alaskan’s had zero influence over; the second, we had 100 percent ownership of. The first was a worldwide recession and the second was statewide tax policy.
I was working for a cruise vacation company, and during the recession folks held onto their discretionary income. The result was a fall in revenues and plummeting stock prices. Trimming the company’s workforce to control costs became inevitable. The decision was made to trim by fifteen-hundred employees.
In 2006 Alaska changed its tax policy through a ballot measure and began charging cruise vacationers $50 to visit our state. This decision had a profound impact on the industry. In response to the recession and the head tax, the company I worked for pulled a ship out of Alaska and decided to downsize their Alaskan workforce. No Alaska based employee survived the downsizing and those payroll dollars disappeared. My family and I were greatly impacted by these events. In the end we chose to stay, but most of my former colleagues left Alaska.
Playing fast and loose with a state’s tax policy has significant ramifications on its economy and their businesses. This November there is only one candidate that promises not to raise taxes during Alaska’s persistent downturn and cause further harm. That candidate is Mike Dunleavy. Vote Dunleavy!
My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.