By Dave Donaldson
The Senate is set to vote on its two-point-eight Billion dollar capital projects budget today, putting one of the essential keys to this year’s session in place for adjournment on Sunday.
The bill has grown considerably since the governor introduced his version in January – and even more since Legislators began adding priorities they saw. Criticism of the amount of spending has come from minority Senate Republicans and from House members of both parties. However, Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman says that it is not out of line at all – especially considering the small amount of money appropriated last year.
What we don’t want to do is have a couple of years of extremely small capital budgets and end up with an economic dip in a year or two. So there’s a lot of concentration on deferred maintenance and issues brought forward by the municipalities. And among them are some smaller projects and bigger projects.
The bill includes most of the work Governor Parnell proposed, plus the money he requested for quickly-needed maintenance projects. It also sets aside money for projects that voters will be asked to pay for with General Obligation Bonds such as a Life Sciences Center at the University in Fairbanks, new school construction throughout the state, and a Sports Complete in Anchorage.
Stedman says the state will end this current fiscal year with more than Twelve Billion Dollars in various savings accounts – in addition to the Permanent Fund. And with that, he says there is still enough money to address some of its infrastructure needs.
[[RAW CUT FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT IS STEDMAN’S VIEW OF THE CRIME LAB THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN PUSHING. A REPORTER ASKED WHETHER THAT WOULD BE ADDED TO THE CAPITAL PROJECTS BILL. 11stedman raw ]]