More money for K-12 schools, aggressive infrastructure agenda
June 29, 2005
"We began this year with a clear vision to not only to craft a fiscal 2006 budget that meets our responsibilities to Alaskans, but to invest in the future of Alaska," Murkowski said. "We accomplished this with strong support for Alaska schools, a commitment to safe communities and a capital budget that puts Alaska to work."
Alaska schools will receive $70 million more in state general fund support in Fiscal Year 2006 and $400 million of the state's oil windfall is used to advance fund K-12 for next year. With this year's increase, the Murkowski administration has increased state support for K-12 schools by an unprecedented 22.7 percent.
The capital budget includes $74 million in FY06 and FY07 for school repairs. Other legislation provides for a school debt reimbursement program to provide for school maintenance and construction in larger communities. More than $286 million will be invested in the maintenance and construction needs of Alaska schools.
The FY06 capital budget totals nearly $1.7 billion, which is $264 million less than the prior fiscal year. The decrease in federal funding in FY06 is partially offset by an increase in state general fund support for capital projects.
Within the capital budget is $32 million for the administration's Roads to Resources program, which is intended to promote growth in the state's economy by opening access to natural resource reserves.
The capital budget also includes $94 million to make improvements to roads statewide that ease traffic congestion and allow for a more efficient transportation system. Governor Murkowski signed the budget bills at Bragaw Street and Glenn Highway, where an interchange is proposed as part of the administration's community transportation initiative in Anchorage.
That "bottleneck buster" initiative will relieve traffic snarls in east Anchorage by also conecting Dowling Road to Abbott Loop and make intersection improvements where the Abbott Loop extension will connect to Tudor Road and Bragaw.
"While Alaska has seen stable growth in its population, we still have congested roadways in our major population centers of Anchorage, Kenai, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. We are beginning the work of easing that traffic congestion now," Murkowski said.
Within the $2.6 billion general fund operating budget, Governor Murkowski vetoed $461,900 from the Department of Corrections budget that was added by the Legislature. The funding anticipated that Alaska State Troopers would transport misdemeanant prisoners to and from Anchorage area correctional facilities. This is a local responsibility that is currently being carried out by the Anchorage Police Department.
The capital budget also includes several vetoes for legislative discretionary spending that the governor thought were projects that did not serve a general public purpose, or included inadequate funding to complete the project or were for projects that were not an essential state responsibility.
Several other projects were funded through grants but will carry with them stipulations that certain terms are met before the money is awarded. The governor's transmittal letter specifies the vetoes and their justification.
Over the last two years, the administration has met the challenges of controlling state budget growth through belt-tightening and ambitious initiatives such as Medicaid cost containment.
The fiscal 2006 budget also includes formula driven increases in Medicaid ($55 million) and retirement system contributions ($45 million) for local and state governments that significantly contributed to growth in general fund operating spending.
"This budget represents a continuation of the commitment I made to Alaskans nearly three years ago to develop our resources, to develop our state and to build a better future for the next generation of Alaskans," Murkowski said.
The bills are:
House Bill 67 (operating budget)
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