Kodiak residents can expect major cuts to ferry service but at least the governor did not cut the marine highway budget any further, according to Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens.
Stevens said the governor’s budget cuts which were announced Friday morning, were no surprise, but he had hoped that they would be less than what they were.
He cited a number of direct impacts to Kodiak residents that concern him including cuts to Medicaid, senior benefits and school bond debt reimbursement.
However, things could have been worse, Stevens said. The Alaska Marine Highway System was spared any further cuts, though it will be forced to operate with just about one-fourth of its previous budget.
Governor Mike Dunleavy had originally proposed to all but eliminate the ferry system while the state worked to privatize the fleet. That plan was set aside, and the legislature was able to get a few million dollars added into the budget it sent to the governor.
With Dunleavy’s previous cuts, plus what the Alaska Legislature was able to reinsert, the Marine Highway will be operating on just $46 million of what was a $200 million budget, said Stevens.
He said Kodiak resident should expect major reductions in service and fewer ferry voyages.
Another bright spot is Kodiak College, which escaped the governor’s red pen.
“The biggest cut, of course, was to the University of Alaska. One good thing about it for Kodiak is that it does not reduce Kodiak College. But it does reduce the university in both Anchorage and Fairbanks, which will impact Kodiak kids when they go off to college. And my fear there is that more people will in fact go Outside for higher education and may not return.”
Stevens adds that he’s concerned about all the cuts made by the governor, not just those affecting Kodiak.