Governor Parnell says Alaska needs to spend more time – and money – taking care of what it’s got.
Recognizing that maintenance repairs are usually low-profile, not-very-politically popular items in the state budget, Parnell says he plans to elevate the subject this year — and in the future — with a separate, highlighted part of the budget spending $100-million a year to fix things.
To me, taking care of Alaska’s deferred maintenance, fixing what we’ve got – it just makes sense. As stewards of our finite dollars, it doesn’t make sense for the state to let its assets deteriorate further. An emphasis on deferred maintenance will mean Alaska’s construction industry will have jobs. Jobs they can depend on each and every year for the next five years. The common sense approach that this offers is new to state government, but it’s necessary.
He pointed out that – counting the University — the state owns 23- hundred buildings that need repair – and the cost of those repairs adds up to $1.8- Billion. He says the executive branch departments have already begun making lists of needed work. The budget he presents to the legislature in December will include the highest priority projects – adding that the University is getting 37-million of those dollars.
University of Alaska Anchorage chancellor Fran Ulmer says deferred maintenance items are always a part of the University’s budget. However, the subject needs the governor’s focus that would give agencies such as her own, the ability to plan more efficiently.
It’s appropriate for the governor to take the lead on deferred maintenance, because as the steward of our state’s assets this is an important way of making sure that for a long time into the future, we have these facilities, these roads, these ferries, these airports in the kind of condition we need them in.
The spokesperson for the University System, Kate Ripley, says the University has 37-percent of the state’s buildings spread out over fifteen campuses. For that, the Regents annually put about $50-million into its budget, of which about $16-million is approved.
Parnell said there is time to work out details on the budget – such as a percentage stream that anticipate each department’s annual spending. He says he does not anticipate the needs for any central authority to re-authorize the priority lists that executive branch departments will make.