The legislature is whacking school budgets. They're whacking the Alaska Marine Highway, the only 'road' that Southeast Alaska communities have, and many tourists have reservations for this summer. Yet they have left $20 million on the table for a road the community simply does not want. And the $20 million Wielechowski proposed to cut, not to mention the future costs these projects would require."Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) proposed recapturing $19.3 million in funds allocated for the U-Med Access Road.“Nine community councils from across Anchorage oppose this road. Anchorage doesn’t want this road, Anchorage doesn’t need this road, and Alaska can’t afford this road,” stated Senator Gardner.Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) offered an amendment to claw back $20 million allocated for the Port Mackenzie Rail extension. This combined with suspending future obligations of over $80 million will save Alaska approximately $100 million.“We simply cannot afford another over $100 million mega-project while we are slashing education and putting seniors and kids at risk,” said Senator Wielechowski."
We really need to hear which contractors are hoping to pick up jobs to build the Bragaw extension and why they have such sway with politicians. We know that DOWL Engineering was in charge of the citizen participation process and despite overwhelming opposition to the road, they continued to recommend road options. Yeah, I know, fox guarding the hen house. We know the $20 million isn't enough to do the road right, just enough to scar the land bad enough that more money will have to be spent to make the road work. They did get buy-in from UAA and APU and Providence, but that was a complicated and non-public process, so we don't know what kinds of deals they got for going along with the road. I suspect Providence heads wanted the road all along, and after building the sports center, there were university boosters who wanted the road. Which is precisely why the people who actually live around the university area should have had more weight. And should have been allowed to sit in and listen to what the university and hospital said to DOWL.
But the Republicans aren't hiding their bias to spending to help industry. From the NewsMiner:
"In a six-minute hearing on the bill, the House Rules Committee extended the $10 million per year tax credit intended for the state’s remaining three refineries to the shuttered Agrium fertilizer plant in House Speaker Mike Chenault’s district. "Some people have to scrimp, for others, it's "What budget crisis?"