Collaborative Effort Addresses University, Ports & Harbors
Juneau -- The 21st Alaska Legislature approved a $302 million bond package to address some of this state's most critical school construction needs. The plan also addresses important needs for the University of Alaska as well as port and harbor projects across Alaska.
"The bond package we have adopted is a good plan that addresses six top priority projects for new school construction in Alaska," said Senate Co-Chair John Torgerson (R-Kasilof). "There were differences between the House and Senate in how to fund this package, but we all agreed upon the need to take care of our schools."
The bond package uses tobacco settlement revenues and a municipal bonding program to fund the six highest priority rural school construction projects including:
"The legislature passed a balanced plan that addresses construction and maintenance needs across Alaska and positively impacts 83% of this state's students," said House Speaker Brian Porter (R-Anchorage). "Obviously this package does not cover all the critical concerns of the state, but it is a strong first step in an ongoing process that will challenge future legislatures to incrementally address necessary projects under Alaska's existing budgetary constraints. All but $38.4 million in this package will go for education needs."
The majority of the bond bill addresses school construction needs in the amount of $198 million. Of this total, $112 million goes to rural schools and $86 million addresses urban schools. Anchorage receives $54 million in school funding. "This will reimburse Anchorage for 70 percent of its bond package," said Senator Drue Pearce (R-Anchorage). "The overall effect of this allocation is to offer city residents some property tax relief because the State and Anchorage will split the bond payments under a 70/30 calculation."
Nearly $70 million in revenues will go to fund construction and deferred maintenance for the University of Alaska. "One of the most urgent needs to preserve accreditation for the University was to make certain that a new library is constructed in Alaska," said House Finance Co-Chair Eldon Mulder (R-Anchorage). "This bill provides $34 million to build the Consortium Library."
The bond package also provides needed revenues for construction and renovation of port and harbor facilities like the Ketchikan Harbor, the Seward Harbor expansion and the Valdez and Cordova Harbors. Four point four million in revenues will go directly to provide for renovation and deferred maintenance to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation including the Eyak Manor and Chugach View seniors' unit renovations.
Combined revenues from the bond package and the capital budget total approximately $1.4 billion towards improvements for Alaska's schools, roads and harbors. The bill, HB 281, now goes to the governor.
= John Torgerson, 59 K