NEWS: Gara to KABATA, Susitna Hydro: Stop Spending Public Money to Promote Unsanctioned Projects

Limited state funds should go to priorities, not lobbying voters on megaprojects the Legislature has not approved

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2014

JUNEAU – In letters sent today, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) called on the governor and the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA) to stop spending public funds promoting their projects before the public or legislature has sanctioned the project.

“The state has no place lobbying the public on projects the Legislature hasn’t approved,” said Gara. “It’s fair to debate the merits of these projects, and the projects should be decided based on those merits. The public shouldn’t have to pay for expensive glossy brochures to lobby themselves.”

According to a Legislative Research Services report, KABATA spent over $58,000 on print, radio, and internet public outreach over the last 31 months. The same report shows the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project spent $71,000 publicizing its website and printing and distributing a full color, two-page newspaper insert.

In the letters, Gara states: “I would ask that no further public funds be used to purchase general media advertisements promoting this project until it is fully approved by the Legislature.  With a deficit of roughly $1 billion or more, and dwindling savings accounts and oil production (projected by the state to fall by 45% over the next 10 years), the Legislature may decide this project is not a priority over reversing cuts in public education, or other priorities.”

“Governor Parnell is pursuing building the Knik Arm Bridge using state funding, giving up on years of promises that the bridge would be funded by the private sector.  With Department of Transportation officials warning of further belt-tightening, dock repairs in Akutan, bridge repairs in Tok, repairs to the Haul Road, or safety improvements to the Seward Highway shouldn’t have to compete with the thousands of dollars KABATA has spent on public relations and lobbying,” said Bob French, a Government Hill resident and former president of the Government Hill Community Council. “Projects need to be chosen on their needs and merits, not who’s got the biggest advertising budget.”

Gara letter on KABATA: http://akhouse.org/gara/021914_ltr-to-Gov-and-Foster_re-KABATA.pdf

Gara letter on Susitna: http://akhouse.org/gara/021914_ltr-to-Gov_re-SUSITNA.pdf

Legislative Research Services report: http://akhouse.org/gara/021914_Susitna_KABATA_media-expenditures.pdf

Susitna 2-page, full color newspaper insert: http://akhouse.org/gara/021914_SusitnaWatanaHydro_Insert.pdf

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