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Senator Sean Parnell Portrait of Senator Gary Wilken
Senator Sean Parnell
State Capitol, Room 518
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-2995
Fax: (907) 465-6592
Send E-Mail
Senator Gary Wilken
State Capitol, Room 514
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-3709
Fax: (907) 465-4714
Send E-Mail

For Immediate Release: February 1, 1999
Contact: Senator Sean Parnell at (907) 465-2995 or Senator Gary Wilken at (907) 465-3709.

Senate Finance Committee Scrutinizes Knowles' $19.3 Million Y2K Funding Request

Juneau -- Senator Sean Parnell, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Monday appointed a special subcommittee to analyze Governor Tony Knowles' supplemental request for $19.3 million in funds for Y2K computer compliance.

"When we're facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, we have a responsibility to make sure we use the state's emergency spending authority for emergencies only," Senator Parnell said. "Fear of the 'Millenium Bug' is not an excuse for a shopping spree at the computer store."

Governor Knowles has asked the legislature to authorize a $19.3 million special appropriation in fiscal year 1999 -- $16.2 million of it from the Constitutional Budget Reserve savings account -- to pay for new computers, upgrades, testing and other services to address Y2K problems.

The Y2K problem, or "Millenium Bug," arises because most computer programs use only two digits to represent the year in date-sensitive applications. Because 1999 is coded as "99," experts fear disruption of computerized state services as the date approaches January 1, 2000. Governor Knowles claims 89 "critical" state functions affecting health, safety or economic well-being are at risk without the extra money.

Senator Gary Wilken will chair the subcommittee, which will also include Senator Randy Phillips (Eagle River), Senator Lyda Green (Matanuska-Susitna), and Senator Al Adams (Kotzebue). The subcommittee is responsible for analyzing the governor's request, and reporting to the full Finance Committee by February 12.

"The state has been spending money on the Y2K problem for years, so it's kind of a slow-motion emergency," said Senator Wilken. "We need to make sure this funding request is for critical items, and to make sure that they are correctly prioritized to protect Alaskans."

Among the issues the subcommittee will consider:

  • How much of the proposed supplemental spending is for actual emergency needs?
  • What are the highest-priority state services needing protection?
  • Why is the governor seeking emergency authorization to spend funds over a period of five years?
  • How much has the state already spent, and from what sources, on Y2K compliance?
  • What are other potential funding sources?
  • How much of the governor's emergency request is aimed at reimbursing other accounts already drained for Y2K work?
  • What assurances can be given that $19.3 million is sufficient for all the necessary work?

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Broadcasters note: Audio comments are available on the Majority Actuality line, 1-800-478-6540
= Sean Parnell, 50 K

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