For Immediate Release: April 6, 2013
Senators Point Out Shortcomings in Capital Budget
Offer amendments to address oversights, regional inequity
JUNEAU – Democratic Senators offered multiple amendments today on the Senate floor in hopes of creating a fairer and more equitable capital budget, serving the needs of all Alaskans.
“I couldn’t support a capital budget that short-changed education, but provided tens of millions for ill-conceived and poorly planned transportation initiatives that are not the best use of our capital dollars,” said Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage).
Senator Ellis offered two amendments to fund engineering buildings on the UAA and UAF campuses. The first amendment would provide full funding for project completion, while the second amendment scaled back funding to allow the projects to continue, but at a reduced pace.
“The demand for engineers is sky rocketing. We have the talent in Alaska, they just need the facilities to succeed. These are high paying jobs that benefit our economy. We invested $100 million in these projects already, it makes sense to finish what we started,” stated Senator Ellis.
Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) offered two fiscally offsetting amendments. The first would remove $10 million from KABATA (Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority), while the second would restore $13.8 million for the Bradley Lake Hydro Project.
“Without viewing an audit there remains substantial concerns about the KABATA project. Until the cost and traffic estimates can be reviewed, it would be prudent to appropriate the money to a project providing long-term sustainable energy relief to hundreds of thousands of Alaskans,” said Senator Gardner.
Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) offered a series of amendments: an amendment to allocate an additional $25 million to the home weatherization program; an amendment to restore $500k to construct the Alaska Veterans Cemetery in Fairbanks; an amendment restoring $500k to the oil and gas arbitration agency, which represents the interests of Alaska against oil producers in royalty oil disputes; an amendment to fund the $3.2 million Muldoon Park Strip and $400K for Alaska Pre-Trial Services.
“We did a lot of belt tightening in my district. The programs supported in my amendments have measured returns for Alaskans. The oil and gas arbitration agency has won two cases totaling $325 million. With revenue shortfalls looming, it seems wise to invest a small amount of money in an agency dedicated to seeing Alaska get its fair share from royalty oil,” stated Senator Wielechowski.
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