Voters approve $900 million in school funding, veterans' loans

VETS' MORTGAGES: $600 million in bonding gets a strong thumbs-up.

November 2, 2010 

Alaska voters Tuesday approved issuing up to $900 million in bonds to fund school projects across the state and home loans for veterans.

The proposal to issue up to $397.2 million for school and university projects easily passed.

The projects will touch many parts of Alaska.

Kipnuk, Alakanuk and Kwigillingok will get new or renovated K-12 public schools -- at an estimated total cost of $128.5 million.

The University of Alaska Anchorage will get $60 million for a new sports center.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will get $88 million for a life sciences classroom and lab facility.

The university's Mat-Su campus will get an art and learning center ($23.5 million) and the Kenai campus will get housing ($16 million) and a career and technical center ($14.5 million).

Five other projects are listed. The state will repay the bonds -- essentially borrowed money -- with general tax revenue.

Supporters of Proposition B included unions, chambers of commerce and public officials. They said the projects will create construction jobs and address needed improvements for Alaska's schools and universities.

Separately, voters strongly approved up to $600 million in bonding for veterans' mortgages -- Proposition A. Unlike the education bonds, general taxpayers are not expected to repay the veterans bonds. Rather, the veterans who borrow money for their home loans will have the primary responsibility for repaying the bonds.

Tuesday's approval by voters gives the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. an estimated six more years of funding for the program. In 2002 voters approved similar bonding for veterans mortgages.

The bonds will have a tax-free status, which means they will carry a lower interest rate -- for both AHFC and the veterans who get the mortgages.

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