Anchorage Legislators consider ways to cut capital costs

Before heading to Juneau, Anchorage Legislators are listening to community input on ways to cut state spending. They hosted a listening session on Saturday at the Loussac Library. Some community members urged the legislature to cut local capital projects, like the U-Med District Northern Access Road.

Download Audio

Legislators take comments in the Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library.
Legislators take comments in the Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library.

Anchorage Resident Kalen Saxton told legislators that money should be redirected from the road project to the school district because the road would not help current traffic problems on Bragaw near East High or near the Alaska Native Charter School.

State House Minority Leader Chris Tuck from southeast Anchorage says funding for some local capital projects should be redirected.

“We’re not going to be able to fund every project, especially the controversial ones. So I think this is an area where we may have to hold back for a while and take care of the necessary needs that the public expects from us.”

Tuck says that includes the money for the $20 million U-Med Access Road and the $2 million South Anchorage High School Stadium. The controversial stadium was approved by the municipality’s planning and zoning commission last week. Tuck says state funds can be reallocated, though projects with federal funding are more complicated.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux from northeast Anchorage, who co-chaired the session, says she won’t comment on which Anchorage projects should or should not be funded.

“You know I’m just going to wait until we get down to Juneau and hear all about these projects. I’m not going to speculate right now about what I want to get rid of and what I want to make sure happens.”

LeDoux says she will also be looking closely at how the Anchorage School District is spending its money. Community members spoke both in favor and against increasing education funding during the listening session.

The state’s legislative session begins on January 20. Governor Bill Walker has already put funding on hold for six megaprojects including the Susitna-Watana Hydro Project, the Knik Arm Crossing, and the roads to Juneau and to Ambler.