Governor says capital budget vetoes will be minimal

Rosemary Shinohara

The Legislature stuck to agreed-upon spending limits in the $2.9 billion capital budget passed in the final hours of the session, and because of that, he will go easier with vetoes than he has in the past, Gov. Sean Parnell says.

Last year, Parnell vetoed $400 million in capital spending, leaving the total at about $2.8 billion.

"You will not see that scale of vetoes, if any, this year," he said in a post-session news conference Monday.

He didn't rule out vetoes though, and said he couldn't immediately articulate what criteria he would use.

As usual, the budget is packed with page after page of goodies for communities across the state, from a $350,000 fire engine for Bethel to a $172,000 helicopter landing pad for Angoon in Southeast Alaska.

Besides handing out $2.9 billion in outright funding, the Legislature approved a $450 million general obligation bond proposition to go before voters this fall. It would mainly pay for ports, harbors and big road projects -- $35 million to rebuild the Glenn Highway from Hiland Road to Artillery Road in Eagle River, $26 million for improvements to the 36th Avenue-Seward Highway intersection in Midtown Anchorage, and $24 million for the Old Steese Highway in Fairbanks, for example.

Anchorage's take from the capital budget plus the bond: $563.4 million.

House Finance Committee member Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, said Anchorage did well.

Fairclough particularly mentioned the Hiland to Artillery Road project on the Glenn in her part of town.

"We call that brake-light hill," she said. "There are a lot of accidents in winter."

Anchorage's total share compares to $220.5 million for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and $200.2 million for Fairbanks, the next largest population centers.


Fifty million dollars for Anchorage's port expansion project is in the bond proposition, and another $48.5 million is in the regular capital budget, for a total of $98.5 million.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough port and rail extension is also in line for bond money -- $30 million -- and a direct appropriation of $23.5 million, for $53.5 million altogether.

The total for the Anchorage port is far less than the $350 million the city asked for to finish the job. At the time the city requested the money, Mayor Dan Sullivan said his administration wanted to move on with certainty that there would be enough to complete the project.

But this week, Sullivan said he's OK with the $98.5 million. It's three times what the Legislature approved last year for the port, he said, and enough to pay for several years of work.

"The Legislature clearly recognizes the importance of the project," he said.


Overall, Sullivan said he is "very, very pleased" with the municipality's share of the capital budget, which adds up to more than $300 million, he said.

"Almost all of our priorities were funded," Sullivan said, among them, lots of roads, development of South Anchorage Sports Park, money for police and fire equipment, and upgrades to Project 80s facilities built or expanded with state oil money some 20 years ago such as the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Loussac Library and the Sullivan Arena.

Sullivan's proposal for South Anchorage Sports Park calls for developing a BMX track, dog park, paintball course and baseball fields. The $4 million request was fully funded.

The only major city project that didn't get money was a plan for relocating the Downtown Transit Center for the People Mover bus system, for which the city requested $2.5 million, Sullivan said.

The University of Alaska Anchorage got $58.6 million for construction and renovation of an engineering building, matching in concept an allocation for the Fairbanks campus of $46.3 million, also for construction and renovation of an engineering building.

Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, said he and Fairbanks Sen. Joe Thomas, a Democrat, joined arms and sold the idea of the engineering buildings to Senate Finance co-chairman Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, the Senate's capital projects guru. The money will pay for half of each building, he said.

The Anchorage School District scored money for supplies, technology, security cameras, artificial turf sports fields and renovations, at schools across the city.

The district vetted projects proposed by each school, Superintendent Carol Comeau said. Security cameras are a priority, she said. "The vandalism rate goes down."

The district also supports artificial turf fields as a safety issue, she said.

Ellis said the capital projects overall boost the state's job numbers. "We think we're doing a good job for the economy."

Reach Rosemary Shinohara at or 257-4340.

Here's a sampling of the Anchorage area projects on the capital budget:

Sullivan Arena, $5.2 million, parking lot expansion and building upgrades.

Anchorage Museum, $5 million, for the first phase of a $15 million renovation of the Alaska History gallery.

Fire Department, $250,000 for dispatch center improvements, $700,000 for engines, $110,000 for a foam tender, $71,700 for watercraft, $2 million for land for future fire stations and more.

Ship Creek, $4 million, to design improvements that include stairway access for fishermen, vegetation, storm drains, signs.

Alaska Special Olympics training center, $4 million.

Bartlett High turf, $3.5 million.

West High artificial turf, $3.1 million, and stadium, $1.6 million.

Anchorage police digital equipment, $2.6 million.

Lake Otis Parkway expansion from 15th Avenue to Northern Lights Boulevard, $2.5 million.

South High field improvements, $2.2 million.

Performing Arts Center upgrade, $2.1 million.

Romig Middle School artificial turf, $1.9 million.

Loussac Library repairs, $1.8 million.

Southcentral law enforcement tactical range, $1.75 million.

Egan Center, $1 million, to replace escalators and lift.

Coastal Trail improvements, $1 million.

Service High track improvements, $840,000.

Fairview Recreation Center, $643,000, for general repairs, windows, flooring, heating and fire alarm systems.

Dimond High security camera upgrades, $218,000.

Bowman Elementary, $215,000 for replacing playground surface.

Campbell Creek estuary and trail improvements, $200,000.

Begich Middle School equipment, $181,350.

Alpenglow Elementary technology, $175,000.

Arctic Thunder Air Show, $80,000.

PDF: See projects by legislative district
Anchorage Daily News