Governor Parnell Urges House to Restore Funding for Gasline and Scholarships
March 5, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska – The House Finance Committee recently released draft legislation that strips several of Governor Parnell’s priorities from his proposed operating budget, including funds for ongoing development of a natural gas pipeline, and the Governor’s Performance Scholarship.
“I understand that this is a step in the committee process,” Governor Parnell said. “However, I am deeply concerned that unless the Legislature restores funding for our in-state gas efforts and for merit scholarships, this draft budget will set us back in pursuing these important economic development and education initiatives for Alaska.”
The House Finance draft budget bill removes $6.5 million for in-state gas development. In 2009, the Legislature appropriated $8.3 million to advance an in-state gas project. Since that time, the governor’s in-state gas team has made substantial progress evaluating a stand-alone gas pipeline. The work plan, as approved by the Legislature, is on schedule with July completion dates for preliminary design work for gas treatment facility options, gas liquids storage at delivery points, and for initial estimates of transportation costs.
The House Finance draft budget bill also removes the set-aside of $400 million to fund Governor’s Performance Scholarships.
“The Governor’s Performance Scholarship is a top priority for my administration,” Governor Parnell said. “The interest and earnings from this set-aside will provide sustainable funding for the scholarships over time without any additional burden on the General Fund. Merit scholarships have been implemented in 22 other states with demonstrated increases in graduation rates, college completion rates, and academic rigor of the K-12 public school system. Alaska’s students and families deserve our support for this major education reform.”
The House Finance Committee takes up budget amendments next week, before the budget goes to the floor for a vote.
“We continue to review the House Finance draft budget and will likely have other areas to address with them,” Governor Parnell said. “And, I look forward to working with legislators to restore these priorities.”###