Alaska continues to lag when it comes to infrastructure development. For the past decade, the amount of money dedicated to infrastructure has either not been enough or it has been poorly planned, leaving projects delayed or no longer viable.
Alaskans know that with our spirit of innovation and dedication to hard work, anything is possible. That is why we always have and always will have a desire for mega projects. We must balance that desire for new things with our responsibility to repair and maintain our existing and ensure our current infrastructure is at its best and safest.
When I was Mayor of Anchorage, we did not care who owned which parcels of land, we assessed all infrastructure projects with considerations for safety, economic development, and community support and we created a comprehensive list of needs. Then we went to work to get the job done. We reallocated money from projects that did not meet the new criteria and as a result we built more roads than the previous four mayors combined. I would bring this same no-nonsense approach to the State.
As Governor, I would:
- Reexamine the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP): We must start by assessing whether or not we are meeting the needs of all Alaskans – not just those that have the influence to push their project. Just like I did when I was Mayor of Anchorage, I would approach projects for capital investment by starting with an assessment of safety, economic development, and community support.
- Utilize General Obligation Bonds For Long-Term Capital Improvements: The State currently spends on average about $140 million for capital projects. I support taking $70 – $100 million of that current budget and using it for debt financing costs and bonding for a long-term capital improvement program. This approach could also be used to match local investments, getting more bang for the buck. This could leverage at least $3-$5 billion in investment over the next six years. Like all other projects, these would be subject to the safety, economic and community support criteria to qualify. Make no mistake that if the Legislature tried to add in any “pork projects” I would not hesitate to veto them. These are intended to be true “Community Investment Bonds.”