NEWS: Lawmakers Urge the Walker Administration to Take a Small Step to Help Address the Budget Crisis in Alaska

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Asks Governor Walker to Consider Reappropriating $20-Million Dollars from the Controversial U-Med Northern Access Road Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2014

ANCHORAGE – On Monday, Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) and Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) sent a letter to Governor Bill Walker asking him to consider reappropriating a $19.6-million dollar capital budget appropriation that’s currently dedicated to the U-Med Northern Access Road project in Anchorage. The lawmakers suggest the money be used to maintain critical infrastructure.

“We are faced with the stark reality of a major fiscal crisis in Alaska,” said Rep. Tarr. “The rapid decline in oil prices is forcing all of us to make difficult budget decisions and this unspent money can be better used to improve public safety by maintaining high-priority infrastructure, like roads and bridges in need of repair statewide.”

In recent days, Alaska’s credit outlook has been downgraded by Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s issued a warning based on the projected budget deficit the state is expected to run in the fiscal year 2016 budget. Rep. Tarr, Rep. Josephson and Senator Wielechowski are encouraging the Walker Administration to reappropriate the $19.6-million dollars as a public step to respond to the budget crisis and show the credit rating agencies that the state is serious about fiscal restraint.

The U-Med Northern Access Road project has sparked widespread stakeholder concerns and resolutions in opposition to the project have been approved by the University Area, Rogers Park, Airport Heights and Russian Jack Community Councils.

“There is no doubt that the U-Med area has real transportation problems. The issue is how to resolve those problems while maintaining neighborhood integrity,” said Rep. Josephson. “Given our financial predicament at the state level, I believe the $19-million in state appropriations that remains unspent should be returned to the State Treasury pending consideration of other solutions to the U-Med’s growing pains.”

Another lawmaker asking the Governor to consider reappropriating the money from the U-Med Northern Access Road project is Senator Bill Wielechowski.

“We ask the Governor to also explore whether these funds can be put into savings, and would support savings over spending on something else, if that option exists,” said Senator Wielechowski.

In Monday’s letter, Tarr, Josephson and Wielechowski raised safety concerns about the U-Med Northern Access Road project and noted that while funds have been appropriated for a connector road, no funds have been obligated or even discussed for the significant upgrades that would be necessary along the existing stretch of Bragaw Street between Mountain View Drive and Northern Lights Boulevard.

A copy of the letter is available here: http://akhouse.org/docs/122214_Dear-Governor-Walker.pdf

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