The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a $1.3 billion capital budget that mostly covers statewide construction and maintenance projects.

Shortly before the members voted, 20-0, on Senate Bill 19, Senate Finance Committee co-chair Natasha von Imhof addressed her colleagues on the Senate floor.

“Capital projects attract outside investment, provide jobs and ensure continued freedom of movement, one of our most cherished liberties that our country offers,” she said, “which allows people to connect with their jobs, families, healthcare and education opportunities anytime they want.

“While this capital budget is skinny, Madame President, it gets the job done.”

The budget includes $174 million in state funds. Of that amount, $107 million would be used to secure $830 million in matching federal funds for highways, roads and airports.

The budget also includes:

  • $64 million for village safe water projects
  • $16.5 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System for ferry vessel work
  • $25 million in receipt authority for the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. This allows the agency to accept private funds to complete a federal permitting application.

Before the Senate took its vote, the Finance Committee also unanimously backed SB 19.

After the vote, von Imhof said in an interview, “I think that when you have solid investment in Alaska by the state, it provides confidence from other folks to want to come in and invest as well, so then the state can find additional matching dollars for projects to make their investment even go farther. 

“I’d like to point out that good investment provides really good jobs during the construction period as well as afterwards, depending on what the project is. So this is in an investment not only in capital, but it's also an investment in human capital as well.”

The bill next goes to the House for further review with the Legislature down to seven days before the May 15 deadline for adjournment.

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