This is addressed to assistant guides, registered guides, master guides and transporters who have held or currently hold a license. If that is not you, feel free to read on, but I'd like to keep this thread limited to folks who have been directly involved in the industry. I don't want this to turn into a bash-fest of guides and transporters; some of our members have done that many times elsewhere on this site. This thread is for folks in the industry, please.
You have probably received a letter from Juneau by now, informing you of some pretty severe rate hikes being proposed. Here's an overview:
Increase to application fee for initial license: $50 (current fee) $100 (proposed new fee)
GMU Examination fee (per GMU): $50 (current fee) $200 (proposed new fee)
Class A assistant and assistant guide initial license application fee: $50 (current fee) $100 (proposed new fee)
Transporter license: $50 (current fee) $100 (proposed new fee)
Nonresident fees: (for all license types) Double the proposed resident rate.
While I have no problem at all with paying for the privilege of helping other hunters take game in Alaska, this one has me scratching my head. To be blunt, I don't trust the government to efficiently run this program. To whom are they accountable for the allocation of these resources? Who is watching where this money is going, and who gets to determine when enough is enough? Are these reasonable numbers, or is this yet another form of taxation, in which we have little or no say?
My fear is that with the present economic downturn we are seeing, where many of our commercial operators are experiencing reductions in business of 30% or more, how many of them can survive these rate hikes, some of which are quadruple what was being paid before? Some of the wealthier large operations that think little of crossing many of the ethical boundaries we have discussed in these forums will have no problem taking up the slack offered by the smaller operators who go out of business. Yet many of these smaller operations are run with the highest standards of conduct; these are the very people we should be advocating for. Instead, we tax them to death.
There is no question that the hunters themselves will pay these costs in the end, just as they always do (let's not forget that we're not only talking about guided hunters, but also anyone who uses a transporter) . So when the economy of the whole country is a mess, the State of Alaska decides to hike the rates, in some cases as much as 400%!
What are we thinking?