Tax on studded tires would increase exponentially under senator's new plan

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) Each year when winter arrives and Alaska roads again become slick and snowy, countless drivers crowd auto shops to swap regular tires for their studded counterparts.

Soon, that ritual may become exponentially more expensive.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, has outlined a plan in S.B. 50 to hike the state tax imposed for the sale of each studded from $5 to $75, meaning a set of winter tires would for a four-wheel vehicle would jump by $280.

The measure comes as policymakers grapple with state government's multi-billion dollar budget deficit and is also considering various other new taxes, tapping the Permanent Fund, and yet another round of spending reductions.

Giessel, who chairs the Senate Resources Committee, said the move is necessary because studded tires contribute significantly to ruts that infamously slice through Alaska roadways.

According to a statement describing her reason for introducing the bill, the Department of Transportation estimates that repairing a two-lane road from rutting costs $1 million per mile.

"Maintenance comes at a cost," Giessel wrote in her sponsor statement. "We also must recognize that driving with studded tires is a choice, and one that comes at a cost for all of us who share our roads."

She said that technological advances have made it so winter tires without studs are "just about" as effective for stopping.

The bill is in its earliest stages, as it was introduced Monday and has not yet received a committee hearing.

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