The Alaska Senate is rolling the dice on its $7.2 million obligation to renovate the K-12 Kivalina school. It’s the last payment in a 2011 settlement that allocated $50 million in state funds for the project. The Senate Finance Committee moved the state capital budget out Thursday without the payment.


Most members said they wanted to defer payment until a final plan is put forward for the school, citing large budget shortfalls the state’s currently facing.


“Any future legislature can add to the amount that’s available, once we see a plan,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River), co-chair of the committee. “But until we see a plan, pigeon-holing again, for lack of a better term, additional money that could go out into our economy or to a project that might be shovel-ready I think is not the place to allocate or re-allocate additional funds.”


State budget director Pat Pitney testified the state could face a new lawsuit by not appropriating the funding now. Sen. MacKinnon said she thinks that’s unlikely because the deadline has already passed for plaintiffs in the previous case to file a complaint.


Because a new lawsuit still could be filed, Sen. Donald Olson (D-Golovin) didn’t think the committee should take the risk of incurring further legal fees.


“I’d just say that the winners are going to be the lawyers and the lobbyists that are out there if we don’t go ahead and put this behind us,” he said.


The capital budget will still require a vote of approval from the House and Senate before heading to the governor.