Senate Finance proposes $1.4B capital budget

 Capitol Building in Juneau, Alaska
Capitol Building in Juneau, Alaska (KTUU)
Published: Apr. 25, 2018 at 5:07 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Senate Finance committee rolled out its version of the state’s capital budget Wednesday afternoon – making more than $280 million in reductions to the version proposed by Gov. Bill Walker.

The capital budget, which provides for the state’s infrastructure like roads, airports and buildings, came in at $1.4 billion. Of that, nearly $142.5 million is in unrestricted general funds. Most of the rest is from federal and other sources.

Some of the items included in the proposal:
  • $4.8 million to modernize the existing election system, replacing it and modernizing it. The expenditure was proposed by Gov. Walker.
  • $20 million for deferred maintenance
  • $960,000 for moving barracks from JBER to Mertarvik, the location selected for the relocation of Newtok, a southwest Alaska community threatened by erosion. The state investment leverages $3.8 million in federal funds through the Denali Commission.
  • $2.5 million to store and process untested sexual assault kits
  • $11.6 million for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Impact Grant program. That program’s allocation is $10 million more than last fiscal year, according to the committee’s staff.
  • A directive for the Department of Transportation to develop a temporary and emergency traffic control plan for the Glenn Highway from Milepost 0 to Milepost 35. That item is in direct response to March’s incident in which the inbound lanes were completely closed for days due to a semi-truck load hitting the South Eagle River overpass.
Some of the items the proposal does not include:
  • A request for funds for the Port of Anchorage – now called the Port of Alaska – that had been requested by Gov. Walker. Walker had requested $40 million for the port, which would have been dependent on the Legislature passing a revenue source. *(Contingency bill had $40 million). He called it the Alaska Economic Recovery Act – SE140 – contingent on a passage of some form of revenue. Proposed head tax or income tax. SB 140 contingency bill that are included in the capital budget.
  • $1.5 million combined in requests for legal counsel or financial due diligence money for AKLNG through the Department of Natural Resources or Department of Revenue.
  • $8.5 million for an enhanced 911 project put forth by Gov. Walker
  • $4.5 million for concept planning for a commuter rail project
  • $1 million in community transportation state match funds

At the end of the roll-out of the Senate’s budget, Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, who chairs the committee, emphasized that the state is not out of the woods when it comes to a capital budget.

“Alaska continues to face huge budget deficits. This capital budget is based on withdrawing funds that are in savings. There is not revenue to support some of these appropriations without other actions in the building,” MacKinnon said.

MacKinnon said the committee prioritized public safety and deferred maintenance.

“We know there are additional needs across our state that we may hear about tomorrow,” MacKinnon said of the public hearing on the capital budget.

The Senate Finance Committee will hear public testimony at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26.

The committee’s version of the capital budget is far from a done deal. Once the budget is passed by the Senate Finance committee, the full Senate must vote on it, then it will go to the House. If the House agrees, it will go to Gov. Walker’s desk.