By Rep. Dan Ortiz
July 27, 2017
Most generally, the capital budget is how we fund investment in Alaska’s infrastructure for transportation (including the AMHS) and our natural resource development. Over the past three years, we have scarcely been able to afford a capital budget; between 2013 and 2017, we cut the capital budget by over 55%.
The effects are starting to show. We have pushed maintenance obligations further into the future. Buildings and projects that we originally invested millions of dollars into are now falling into disrepair. Roads are becoming more dangerous. Private construction groups have fewer projects to bid on, forcing people within the building industry to find work in other states. Eventually, we need to revive the capital budget if we want working ferries, up-to-code buildings, safe roads, and well-managed state owned lands.
However, we cannot have a sufficient capital budget without a comprehensive fiscal plan. Once we make the tough decisions – such as continued budget reductions and a new source of revenue – then we can consider having additional, meaningful, and necessary capital budget expenditures. I am not tied to one source of revenue in particular, but we can no longer rely almost solely on revenue generated from the oil industry. The condition of low prices and stagnating production is expected to continue into the near and midterm future. For over three years, I have taken the stand and made the tough votes in support of adopting a sustainable fiscal plan, and the evidence has only continued to mount in support of that need.
Rep. Dan Ortiz
About: Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District. He is the only independent in the Alaska State Legislature.
Received July 26, 2017 - Published July 27, 2017
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