by Phillip Manning ~ April 28th, 2014
Late last week, the Alaska State Legislature ended its session after running over the allotted time by five days. The major snag at the end of session was wrangling over education funding. Both the House and Senate wanted to increase education funding, but their methodologies were different. In the end, a compromise was reached.
Also tied up in the end of session gridlock was the state’s capital budget. The budget was being held back in order to absorb costs from the education bill. In the Mat-Su, a number of projects received multi-million dollar funding numbers. Those included the Bogard Road Extension, Port Mackenzie rail extension, and West Lakes Fire Service Area, and the Houston Fire Station.
Two megaprojects also received large appropriations. The Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority received $55 million to continue their project to build a bridge from Port Mackenzie in the Mat-Su to Government Hill in Anchorage. While companion legislation for the bridge failed in the house, the funding, most of which is federal dollars, still made it in to the budget.
The Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project also received an eight-figure appropriation at $20 million. That represents slightly less than half of Governor Sean Parnell’s total request of $42.7 million. After the Senate stripped out all but $10 million, the House Finance Committee voted to add an additional $10 million, which House Democrats were unable to remove again.