This Tuesday, Alaskans will have an opportunity to invest in Alaska's future. This past legislative session, the Alaska Legislature voted to place Proposition A before the voters. This proposed $453 million bond issue contains projects throughout the State of Alaska that are critical infrastructure in ports and roads. For a full list of these projects, take a look at your Official Election Pamphlet.
Alaska is the most maritime state in the Union. Ninety percent of our incoming goods and 95 percent of our exports come through Alaskan ports. The Port of Anchorage is particularly important. In addition to serving Anchorage, Mat-Su and Fairbanks, rural Alaska receives 75 percent of their consumer goods through the Port of Anchorage that are then forwarded to bush Alaska via by pass mail.
Of course everyone is heavily disappointed that a federal agency so mismanaged the reconstruction of our port in the past couple of years. The Municipality of Anchorage will be taking over this project now and they are taking every precaution to have the correct design and capable project management on board to see this project through to completion.
We really don't have any other alternative. An engineering study by R&M Consultants indicates that the current piling supported structure is deteriorated due to corrosion and is at risk of failure in the case of a major earthquake.
The bond issue also contains some important traffic congestion relief projects for Anchorage, Mat-Su and Fairbanks including the infamous "brake light hill" at Eagle River.
Bonding is a regularly used tool of government when making major public infrastructure investments such as this. The Alaska Department of Revenue testified before the Legislature last year that at current conditions in the market, the interest rate on these bonds would be at historic lows. They also testified that Alaska has a very low level of bonded indebtedness and that this bond would not affect the State's excellent AAA bond rating.
This debt will be paid for by State general funds and will not increase your local property taxes.
More importantly though, is the fact that once this debt is paid off, these projects will be continuing to serve Alaskans and our economy for many years to come.
It's time to invest in Alaska and I hope you will all join me in voting YES on bond proposition A.
Paul Fuhs is a former Commissioner of Commerce and Economic Development, former Mayor of Unalaska, and is a consultant to port and maritime interests in Alaska.
By PAUL FUHS