Democratic Budget Amendments Would Reduce Budget


Democratic Budget Amendments Would Reduce Budget
Doogan, Gara attempt to cut budget by more than $2 billion


JUNEAU – In a year when the Alaska State Legislature is working on capital and operating budgets that total more than $12 billion, House Democrats offered amendments in an attempt to restore some restraint and responsibility to the budgeting process.


Reps Les Gara and Mike Doogan (both D-Anchorage) offered amendments that would reduce the capital budget and provide significant savings. Gara’s amendment would reduce the amount of money the state is giving to the ever-expanding Port of Anchorage project. Doogan’s would take $2.2 billion from temporary savings account and place it in the Permanent Fund, as real savings.


“This capital budget passed the $3 billion mark this year,” Doogan said. “Just over $2 billion of that is state funds, and I think we should put at least that much in real savings. We can’t expect the money to just keep rolling in forever, and I think Alaskans would like to know we’re putting some money in the bank for when that day arrives.”


Gara’s amendment would reduce the state’s appropriation to the Port of Anchorage expansion project from $37.5 million to $20 million. When originally proposed the port project’s cost was estimated at $227 million. Since 2003 that cost estimate has ballooned to more than $1 billion.


“I support a reasonable expansion project to bolster our economy,” Gara said. “But when a project is $800 million over budget, the state needs to demand a cost effective expansion plan, and not just pour piles of bad money after bad. I’d rather put money into savings, job training and school success than into a money pit, and this is my message that the port needs to come up with a sound financial plan.”


In the House Finance Committee the Doogan amendment failed 3-8, with Doogan, Gara and Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) voting in favor. The Gara amendment failed in an identical 3-8 vote.


Both amendments will also likely be offered on the House floor.


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