Senate Finance Committee introduces capital budget
The Senate Finance Committee got its first look at the capital budget Wednesday.
It’s essentially the last key piece of legislation toward adjourning.
It’s a $1.3 billion budget, with about $1.1 billion coming from federal funding.
The capital budget underwrites construction and road projects, plus one-time funding for other initiatives.
This year’s proposed budget is close to last year’s, reflecting the state’s ongoing recession, underpinned by chronically low oil prices.
Recent upticks that pushed prices past $70 a barrel have provided some optimism but not a sense of pending relief.
The offered budget is about two to three times smaller than just four years ago when oil was more than $100 dollars a barrel.
The bill includes $20 million for deferred maintenance on state-owned buildings, $4 million for cruise ship ports – in anticipation of rising passengers numbers – and $2.5 million for testing sexual assault kits.
Senate Finance Co-chair Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) says the budget reflects immediate priorities and the committee’s best effort to leverage federal matching dollars.
“We have prioritized public safety in any [re-appropriations]; we have taken on as well as deferred maintenance so that we can extend the life of investments that Alaskans have made that this state has supported over the course of time,” she told the committee. “We have prioritized state assets. These are state monies coming out to support local communities and the infrastructure we have deployed across the state to benefit the people of Alaska.”
The Senate initiates the capital budget then sends it to the House for review, which should happen sometime next week.
Meanwhile, the state’s operating budget remains with a special committee to work out differences between the two sides.
The Senate Finance Committee will take public testimony on Thursday.
Lawmakers have completed 100 days and have until May 16 under the constitution.
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