SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Compromise Capital Budget Passes


July 27, 2017
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Yesterday, the Alaska Legislature released a proposed bipartisan capital budget agreement and today the Alaska Legislature passed that budget. The measure reflects a compromise between the House and Senate, recognizing the importance the capital budget has on Alaska’s economy.

The Alaska Legislature overwhelmingly passed a capital budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that will result in approximately $1.2 billion in federal funds coming to Alaska. The approved capital budget was a negotiated compromise that ensures continued funding for Alaska’s roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure. 

In a prepared statement Alaska Governor Bill Walker said, “I am pleased the capital budget was passed this afternoon. Alaskans can rest assured that construction and maintenance projects can continue, and jobs will be provided for them, their friends, and neighbors. I look forward to signing the capital budget prior to August 1.”

“For every state dollar invested as part of this capital budget, Alaska gets $9 in federal support for vital infrastructure like good roads and safe bridges. I want to thank Senator MacKinnon for her hard work and willingness to compromise, which resulted in today’s vote to pass a responsible capital budget,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome)

The compromise version of Senate Bill 23 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 27-13. The Alaska State Senate passed the bill by a vote of 15-4. SB 23 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

“Today’s Senate action is welcome news for Alaskans who depend on safe roads and infrastructure,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle Rive)r. “By leveraging federal highway funds, we realize a 10 to 1 return for general fund dollars that we invest around the state.”

“Our construction sector is already suffering job losses and uncertainty across Alaska,” said Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna). “Providing clarity and certainty in our capital projects spending will allow the Department of Transportation to move forward with confidence in authorizing final work for this summer’s construction season and beginning planning for next year.”

The capital budget allocates $121 million from the general fund and authorizes the state expenditure of $1.2 billion in federal funds for capital improvements statewide including road repairs, bridge upgrades and school facilities. Additional appropriations for community assistance and other items brings the total general fund allocation to $157 million. This includes:

  • $8 million for the Community Assistance Program, for a total distribution of $38 million;
  • $7 million more toward the Kivalina K-12 replacement school, on top of the $43 million investment made by the Legislature in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • $7 million in re-appropriation funds for the Arctic Strategic Transportation and Resources (ASTAR) project; and
  • $20 million to pay down the state’s oil and gas tax credit liability, in addition to the $57 million appropriation in the operating budget. While the legislature has ended the oil and gas tax credit program, the Senate remains committed to settling the accrued unpaid tax credits from prior years.

“This capital budget compromise is the product of both bodies working together,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “I look forward to the discussion and swift action on passing this budget to keep Alaskans at work and our construction opportunities advancing.” 

The Committee Substitute (CS) for Senate Bill 23 leverages over $1 billion in federal funds, with a state investment of $121 million in unrestricted general funds from the Statutory Budget Reserve (SBR) fund.

“The compromise reached between the House and Senate to pass this year’s capital budget shows a level of cooperation between the two bodies that bodes well for our continued efforts to secure Alaska’s fiscal future,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Neal Foster *D-Nome). “Senator MacKinnon and I have worked closely with our respective caucuses to reach a compromise that ensures Alaska continues to receive federal funding for roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure.”

“I want to thank every member of the legislature for their patience and their help in getting the capital budget passed,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “The spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation that went into developing this compromise budget is a tangible example that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and from both the House and Senate can work together and compromise for the common good. This will serve us well as we continue the hard work of protecting our economy and thousands of jobs from the ongoing recession and fiscal crisis. Solutions are out there, and by working together those solutions are obtainable.”

The bill does not include an additional appropriation to the Permanent Fund Dividend Program.

The conference committee meeting was scheduled for today, at 1:00 PM and was held in the Senate Finance Committee room, Capitol 532, Juneau.

The documents, including the CS and summary, were posted yesterday to BASIS for the public to view.

The Legislature called itself into a special session today to take the compromise up and to "pass it expeditiously".


On the Web:

Documents for Senate Bill 23

Capital Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz
SitNews - July 27, 2017

Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Alaska Senate Majority

Alaska House Majority Coalition

Office of Gov. Bill Walker



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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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