Stevens, Austerman, Give Legislative Wrap-Up

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Diana Gish/KMXT

There was a large turnout for the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday. The featured speakers were Senator Gary Stevens and Representative Alan Austerman.

The two leaders are back in Kodiak now that the legislative session has ended in Juneau.

Even though the session has ended, budget issues are still up in the air, including funding for projects in Kodiak. While some of the capitol improvement projects for this region have been given the green light, many more are still in limbo.

Stevens has met with Governor Parnell twice about Kodiak’s capitol budget.

(State Leaders 1 :38 "and he was … of the air.")

Stevens didn’t try to predict which of Kodiak’s discretionary budget items the governor will veto, but he did say that Kodiak will make out better than most other districts. District 36 is positioned to receive the second highest amount of capitol funding in the state. As president of the senate, Stevens is in charge of appointing the senate finance committee while Austerman serves as a member of the house finance committee. With that advantage, the duo has succeeded in making progress towards a new Fish and Game building for Kodiak.

(State Leaders 2 :43 "We’ve been trying … proud of that.")

Other Kodiak projects supported by the governor are flood repairs, the Kodiak jail, deferred maintenance for the Fish and Game warehouse and compound and money for the Alaska Aerospace Corporation. Major infrastructure projects funded by the state’s water, sewer and solid waste grant program include phase three of water and sewer replacement for Aleutian Homes and a U-V water treatment facility. Federal dollars will pay for airport improvements and resurfacing Rezanof Drive.

There are an additional 10 million dollars worth of Kodiak projects in the budget that are awaiting the governor’s approval. Of the 21 items on Kodiak’s C-I-P wish list, Stevens says the governor showed interest in village dock repairs and reconstruction.

Last year, a spending freeze stalled most capitol improvements. This year is different. The state has managed to sock away 12 billion dollars in savings.

(State Leaders 3 :48 "That’s an enormous … did no funding.")

Even though Alaska’s coffers are full right now, Austerman told the crowd that he’s worried about what’s ahead for the state.

(State Leaders 4 :46 "Most of us … understanding on those.")

During a question and answer session with the state lawmakers, luncheon attendees brought up a variety of topics including education, changes to the state retirement system and pebble mine among others.

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