Updated: Senate passes capital budget

Update: The Senate on Wednesday passed the state’s fiscal year 2013 Capital Budget, Senate Bill 160. The budget appropriates $2.63 billion, including $1.8 billion in state funds and $830 million in federal funds.

“This budget strikes a good balance between building our economy through capital projects and keeping state spending in check,” Senator Bert Stedman, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a written statement.

The Senate addressed five key issues in this year’s budgets: savings, transportation, energy, education and health care. The Senate also worked with Gov. Sean Parnell and House leadership to ensure that spending goals were met.

The Senate Bipartisan Working Group appropriated about $710 million for transportation, $340 million to improve schools and education across the state, $190 million projects to reduce energy costs statewide, and $70 million to improve the health care in Alaskans.

The Senate also added $4 to state savings for each dollar that is spent on capital projects. Since 2007, under the leadership of the Senate, Alaska’s savings have grown by more than $10 billion.

After three days of delay the Senate Finance Committee voted a new version of the state capital budget, Senate Bill 160, out of committee Wednesday morning.

The bill now goes to the Rules Committee and is expected to be on the floor of the Senate quickly, with less than five days remaining in the 2012 legislative session.

The committee had agreed on an earlier version of SB 160 last Saturday but the bill was held for further changes.

The bill totals about $2.57 billion including federal funds with about $750 million in additions made by the Senate. The House is expected to make further additions.

Gov. Sean Parnell had proposed a capital budget of about $1.8 billion last December but acknowledged then that he had left room for $600 million in additions by legislators. The additions by the Senate and the House are now likely to exceed that limit.

Parnell has authority to veto individual appropriations in budgets, which he may do to keep overall spending in line.

The senate bill funds $710 million in transportation projects, $340 million in education projects, $190 million in energy projects and $70 million in health care facility improvements, according to an analysis presented to the committee by legislative staff Wednesday morning.

Two new buildings for the University of Alaska that were in the earlier version of the senate are still in the new version. One is a $58.6 million appropriation for a new engineering building at the University of Alaska Anchorage. A second is a $46.3 million appropriation for a new engineering building at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Port of Anchorage would receive a $25 million appropriation that would be in addition to $50 million proposed for the port as part of the statewide ports bond bill, still pending in the Legislature.

The senate bill would also grant $30 million for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s Port Mackenzie rail extension. The proposed bond bill has another $30 million for the rail project.

A new item in the senate bill, which appeared only in the latest version of SB 160, is $40 million for a new road in Southeast Alaska to connect Kake and Petersburg.

11/12/2016 - 11:39pm