Senator Berta Gardner

April 8, 2013

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 417
Juneau, AK 99801
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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KABATA - Unreasonably Optimistic

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thanks to the great crowd that came out to rally against the Governor’s Giveaway. Alaskans sure know how to tell the Governor this giveaway is bad policy.
With the help of local Girl Scouts, First Lady Sandy Parnell hosted the investiture ceremony of Alaska Girl Scout Troop 49, of which I am a Co-Chair with Representative Hughes.

The Senate this weekend approved a capital budget which included $10 million dollars for the Knik Arm Bridge Toll Authority (KABATA) – funding which is anticipated to be just the first part of an estimated $150m to keep the bridge afloat (pun intended). Just hours later the state audit of KABATA was released, finding that KABATA’s projections for both traffic and revenue were “unreasonably optimistic.”

I doubt anyone was surprised…and there are plenty of reasons to find the entire project to be very troubling.

During Saturday’s debate process I offered an amendment to strip the KABATA funding from the capital budget, pending release of the audit later the same day. One hopes that had the audit results been available at that time, members would have agreed to deny funding until a real finance plan was in place, but perhaps I am unrealistic.

Instead, the House Finance committee met over HB 23, a bill to create the KABATA public-private plan and the fund. The plan commits the state to backstopping the bridge which would be run by a private company, harvesting revenues. This has been described as a way to “privatize the profit and socialize the risk.”

Representative Costello offered an amendment to require legislative approval of a KABATA financing plan before KABATA could sign a partner contract or a construction contract. The amendment failed on a 5-5 vote. The bill will be debated over the course of today and tomorrow, and sadly I expect it will have enough votes to pass the House and come over to the Senate for quick passage.

I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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