House Fast Tracks Ferry & Medicaid Funding

    The House voted 32-7 to send to the senate fast track legislation that provides 24 million for the marine highway system to keep running and 45 million for medicaid.

    The House voted 32-7 to send to the senate fast track legislation that provides $24 million for the marine highway system to keep running and $45 million for medicaid. It rejected an amendment 20-19 that would have restored $21.3 million for the Juneau access road project. 

    Both local House members Sam Kito and Justin Parrish were opposed to the amendment. Parrish said he supports the road project but had to weigh that support over current budget needs. Kito says the road isn't supported by the governor and is not on the federal list that qualifies for big time dollars.

    Rep. Justin Parrish was torn between the Juneau access roads $21 million and using those dollars for other concerns.

    North Pole representative Tammie Wilson says the state needs to do good projects and develop them. She supported the Juneau access road since the Marine Highway System has become too costly, and is hampered with constant repair issues. "We have issues with the Marine Highway, that it doesn't run enough. Well, wouldn't it have to run less in some areas if we were able to build this project? Wouldn't we be able to provide more access to those that don't have roads to it? I just want to make sure they know I'm listening to them and feel their pain for it."

    Rep. Sam Kito says he doesn't think the Juneau access road is a priority for the state or federal government. He added to include $21 million for that project would only take the money away from other projects in Northern Lynn Canal and the Southeast.

    Representative Chris Birch said that infrastructure is important, but so is access to the state capital. "It's an effort to reinvigorate a project that needs to happen, frankly. I spoke in this forum one year ago about this project, the Juneau access road. We remain, aside from Hawaii, the only state that doesn't have road access to the capital. This project serves to provide jobs, opportunity and potential for the people of Alaska, and certainly the people of the Southeast." Birch compared the Juneau road access project to that of the Douglas bridge project in 1980.

    Representative Parrish said he supports to road access, but ultimately had to weigh it against other more pending issues facing the state.



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