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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Capital Budget & District 36 Projects

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


September 17, 2017
Sunday AM

Alaska’s Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget, although small, has allocated multiple beneficial projects here in southern Southeast. The compromised version of this year’s capital budgetwill meet the minimum needs of the state and its residents in terms of infrastructure investment.

The capital budget is how we fund investment in Alaska’s infrastructure for transportation (including the AMHS) and natural resource development. From 2013 to 2017, we cut the capital budget by over 55%. We cut even more this year. At $122 million in Unrestricted General Funds, the FY2018 capital budget is the smallest since 2000.

Although District 36 will feel the impacts of continued cuts, my goal is to provide District 36 with the stability it needs. District 36 will benefit from multiple state-funded projects:

  • $2 million for Ketchikan’s berth project, allowing larger cruise ships to dock,
  • $5 million to Wrangell as part of the Municipal Harbor Facility Grant Fund,
  • Over $280 thousand to Hydaburg to improve their Fuel Dock,
  • Fully restore Municipal Revenue Sharing to 2017 levels.

The above projects will come from state funds, and we also leveraged nearly $1.2 billion in federal funds. For every $1 the state invests in this year’s capital budget, Alaska receives $9 in federal support. District 36 federally funded projects include: Tongass highway rehab, multiple large KGB airport rehab projects, and extensive construction and replacement within the Inter-Island Ferry operations and the Alaska Marine Highway System.

District 36 received its share of funding for our infrastructure needs, but without a long term solution to the State’s fiscal situation, we can hardly afford a capital budget. With a looming deficit, the minimal capital budget pushes most maintenance obligations further into the future, ultimately raising the costs of deferred maintenance needs.

Simply put, without a comprehensive fiscal plan that includes a stable and sufficient revenue source, Alaska can’t have an adequate capital budget. 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 ready to continue making the tough votes dur

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

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.

Was the text of this letter edited by the SitNews Editor: No -- other than the "about" added.


Received September 15, 2017 - Published September 17, 2017

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