July 01, 2006
Murkowski said the capital budget reflects a commitment to improving Alaska's economy through investment in transportation infrastructure, resource development, and education at the K-12 level, as well as in university and vocational education facilities. The bill also invests in safe and strong families through projects and grants for public safety agencies.
"The action I take today reflects my strong belief that this capital budget represents the good work of the Legislature in responding to the capital construction needs of Alaska," Murkowski said. "While this bill's bottom line of $2.3 billion from all funding sources is bigger than many capital spending bills we have seen lately, there are valid reasons for that level of spending. Everything costs more than it used to. There is a pent-up demand statewide for capital projects and infrastructure maintenance. And many of these projects will enable us to transition more smoothly and effectively into a period of gas pipeline construction. I am pleased to be able to sign this bill into law today."
In addition, the bill appropriates $49 million to municipalities and local communities to offset the high cost of fuel and other commodities, and another $19 million to pay the increased cost of the public employees retirement system. SB 231 also includes two large appropriations that are contingent on passage of a new petroleum production tax to replace the current ELF-based tax. Those are $183 million to fully fund the power cost equalization endowment and $73 million to build three new schools in rural Alaska.
"The contingency on which the funding for these projects rests is an increase in the state's petroleum production tax," Murkowski said. "While it has not yet been approved, it will continue to be considered by the Legislature during the upcoming special session. As a result, these appropriations can still be funded if the contingency is met by future legislative action."
The governor's line-item vetoes in the bill amounted to only 11, the largest group of which would have appropriated $73.5 million to eight utilities around the state. In his veto message, Murkowski noted that the state's utilities need to work cooperatively to address the future energy needs of Alaska, but that the projects he vetoed would have done little to meet that need. He also vetoed a $100,000 nanotechnology grant for Wasilla because it was not identified as a priority of that city; a $200,000 totem pole restoration in Kake because it is a local obligation; and reduced to $50,000 a $100,000 appropriation to the Alaska Siberian Research Center for a WWII Lend-Lease Memorial Park.
The governor also expressed his concern over several appropriations that he let stand. Those include $50,000 to the Moose Federation, which he directed to be used for relocating orphan moose calves and not for administrative purposes; small grants to various schools for supplies and library books, the distribution of which seems illogical and unfair to some districts; a $9 million appropriation for a new fire training facility in Anchorage; and funds to begin construction of a new city dock in Gustavus, where the governor believes the dock should be located in the more protected waters of Bartlett Cove.
The FY2007 capital projects bill has an immediate effective date.
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