Berkowitz: $200 million investment into Port of Alaska upgrades are critical
Before state lawmakers leave for Juneau, Municipality of Anchorage leaders on Monday provided a wish list for their consideration.
Heading the list is $200 million for Port of Alaska cargo facilities, which the city says is vital to a statewide economy.
At the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, city leaders said they would like the money to be part of a general obligation bond financing package that goes before the voters in November.
But some lawmakers are exercising caution, even as they acknowledge the port’s value.
“When it comes to the port and securing funds or a commitment from the Legislature to move forward a general obligation bond for the port, it would be helpful if we had some specific items that this was going to fund, so that we could be clear that this investment was going to make concrete progress towards the future and that there was an end in sight for the port," said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz assured Spohnholz that the investment would make “concrete and steel progress.”
Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, has similar concerns.
“The state has zero oversight in the port,” she said. “So it’s hard for us without knowing exactly what the plan is going to be and no ownership in the project to come and bring money to the table.”
Berkowitz said the municipality has and will continue to be forthcoming.
“It doesn’t really matter whether the municipality is the entity that’s trying to solve the port problem or the state is trying to solve the port problem,” he said. “It needs to be solved.”
Other priorities delivered to lawmakers, collectively known as the Anchorage Caucus, include $4.5 million to assist the homeless population, $5 million for the Alaska Center for Treatment to address the ongoing opioid and substance abuse epidemic and $549,000 for domestic violence programs.
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