The rally has mostly wrapped up at this point. Read our full coverage here: As final budget decisions approach, ferry supporters flood Capitol steps
Graeme Johnson of British Columbia’s ferry system says the BC ferries were privatized 16 years ago and fares raised by 70 percent in the next 10 years. It cost the province’s economy $2.7 billion in that time. He said things have turned around and the ferries are working better now, but it took 16 years to recover.
He led the crowd in a quick call-and-response cheer, saying, “When our ferry system is under attack … ” and the crowd responding, “We stand up and fight back.”
Inlandboatmen’s Union President Marina Secchitano said the union gathered 1,000 signatures in three days for a letter to the Legislature. They delivered those signatures to legislative offices in Juneau, Anchorage and Ketchikan on Monday, she said.
Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, says she’s learned a lot on the House Transportation Committee. For example, the Coast Guard calls out to ferries in emergencies, and that about 25 percent of people using ferries are actually headed up to the Fairbanks area (including her husband for the Arctic Man race once a year). Most importantly, she says, she’s learned how vital the ferries are for the vulnerable in Southeast trying to receive medical service.
Local singer Jocelyn Miles sings a rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”
Here’s a view of the crowd.
Rep. Hannan is speaking now, saying the fight for ferry funding will continue for the next three years. “Make sure you have your boxing gloves, because we’re in this for the long haul.”
About 200 people are here at the rally. Some of the attendees, including Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, joined in with Nancy Barnes from Yees Ku Oo for a song and dance in front of the Capitol.
Trina Arnold from the Inlandboatmen’s Union is speaking now. She says ferries need to be fully funded “in common sense, for the common good.”
The rally is still getting underway, and they’re waiting on lawmakers to join them. One of the speakers today is Graeme Johnson from the British Columbia ferry system.
The Inlandboatmen’s Union is hosting a rally at the Alaska State Capitol steps today to fight for funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
It starts at noon.
As part of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to balance the state’s budget, he has proposed a $97 million cut to the Alaska Marine Highway System. In the House budget, Representatives are calling for a $10 million cut to the system, while the Senate’s budget calls for a $44 million cut.
Check back later for live updates of the rally.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.