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Parnell denies threatening punishment to Ketchikan

By Emily Carlson 4:46 PM February 8, 2014

Issue is over pending lawsuit

ANCHORAGE- The battle over education funding took a volatile turn Friday afternoon when Gov. Sean Parnell said Ketchikan residents could be punished because of a pending lawsuit.

“It does kind of jade the perspective of legislators and myself when it comes to Ketchikan issues when Ketchikan asks for money, but yet the state might be on the hook and the lawsuit for more money when it comes to education,” Parnell said during an interview on KRBD radio.

Parnell also said the Southeast community could face consequences for its lawsuit against Alaska.

“There’s kind of a reluctance or reticence to step forward for other projects,” he said. “That’s one of those probably unintended consequences of a lawsuit like that.”

Ketchikan is suing Alaska to get rid of local contributions to school districts. It claims the community is being punished for being incorporated.

Unincorporated areas do not contribute to local schools.

“First thing I did was go to the governor’s office and spoke to someone to find out whether Fairbanks would have issues with capital projects,” said North Slope Republican Rep. Tammy Wilson.

Wilson introduced a bill that does the same thing as the lawsuit.

She said she is disappointed and shocked by Parnell’s threats.

Meanwhile, Parnell reversed course Friday night by denying his earlier statements.

“Let me be clear: In no way, shape or form, will I, or my administration use the pending education lawsuit as a basis to punish or single out a specific community or region of the state,” Parnell said. “Any press statements to the contrary are false. That’s not how I operate.”

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