Gov. Highlights Legislative Accomplishments
April 16, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – At the close of the 27th legislative session, Governor Sean Parnell commended legislative action that advanced his priorities in the areas of education, public safety, military support, transportation and infrastructure, energy and resource and economic development.
Alaska Performance Scholarship fully implemented
With the passage of Governor Parnell’s legislation creating a sustainable funding mechanism for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Advantage grants, the Alaska Performance Scholarship is fully implemented. The performance-based scholarships were created through legislation in 2010 spearheaded by Governor Parnell. With the passage of House Bill 104, a fund will be established using interest and earnings to fund both higher education scholarships and grants. The governor was pleased that the Legislature included scholarship funding for the classes of 2011 and 2012.
Ending the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault
Funding for the governor’s “Choose Respect” initiative to end domestic violence and sexual assault is $11.8 million including prevention and intervention, support for survivors, and law enforcement.
More Village Public Safety Officers and Troopers
The governor continues to work toward the goal of providing State Trooper or Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) presence in every community that requests it. All 15 VPSO positions requested in the governor’s budget were funded. Under the Parnell administration, Alaska has doubled the number of VPSOs to more than 100.
Protection of Alaska’s most vulnerable adults
Governor Parnell’s legislation strengthening penalties for criminals who target some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens was passed by the Legislature. The bill protects these Alaskans from financial exploitation and abuse.
Governor Parnell secured $300,000 to protect Alaska’s military bases from closure during an expected Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) process. Alaska is geographically positioned to protect America’s interests in the Pacific Rim and over the North Pole to all parts of the northern hemisphere. The funding is for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to counter the U.S. Department of Defense plans to reduce military spending in Alaska through a BRAC.
Governor Parnell supported legislation creating military facility zones aimed at fostering community and private industry support of Alaska’s bases.
The state will begin a four-year veterans outreach program. State officials will visit villages throughout the state to make sure veterans receive the benefits they have earned.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Statewide infrastructure funding
More than $1 billion was approved for highways, aviation, marine highway, harbors, village safe water, and municipal water and sewer projects. Also approved was $453.5 million in general obligation bonds for statewide transportation projects subject to voter approval in November.
Deferred maintenance funding
Governor Parnell secured $100 million for the third year of his five-year Deferred Maintenance Plan.
Roads to Resources
The Legislature funded the governor’s “Roads to Resources” initiative. The initiative will increase access to communities and open opportunities for continued responsible development of our fish, timber, minerals, and petroleum resources. The funding allows continuing work on a road to Umiat, the Ambler District Road, a road to Tanana, and improvements on the Klondike Industrial Use Highway to Skagway.
New Alaska ferry
The budget also includes $50 million for construction of a second Alaska Marine Highway System ferry.
The Legislature approved the governor’s energy plan which includes $31.5 million for weatherization programs to help Alaskans make their homes more energy efficient; $25.9 million for the Renewable Energy Fund targeting projects in areas with the highest energy costs; $38.2 million to fully fund the Power Cost Equalization Program; $20 million for home energy rebates, and an estimated $48 million for the Alaska Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.
Governor Parnell supports the Sustainable Energy Program, designed to help finance sustainable energy infrastructure projects across the state. The bill expands the authority of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to finance, or facilitate the financing of, energy infrastructure projects.
The governor supported natural gas storage and frontier basin incentives, as well as appropriations designed to bring natural gas energy to the Interior.
Resource and Economic Development
The Legislature approved the governor’s funding request for digital mapping in the Arctic. The state will use the money to acquire elevation data as a base for infrastructure development that greatly enhances economic opportunities and the preservation of human life in disaster prevention, response, and recovery.
New Market Tax Credits
Governor Parnell sponsored legislation to foster more economic development in Alaska with a federal tax credit program called New Market Tax Credits. The legislation will promote new investment in rural Alaska for the financing and construction of a wide variety of projects.
Increases tourism marketing
The Legislature approved $16 million for tourism marketing to continue efforts to grow Alaska’s tourist population.