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Stevens Reassures City Council on State Funding

Photo courtesy of Gary Stevens

Senator says Governor's budget filled with federal funds.

Homer’s District P State Senator Gary Stevens met with the city council yesterday afternoon in preparation for the upcoming legislative session. This year, the state is flush with funds coming in from the Biden Administration, with money in the governor’s budget for everything from a new state ferry to school construction.

"You know, the governor has submitted a budget, which I don't know if you've read about it. It really is using every penny that's around and not living, leaving much for the future. I have some concerns about that," Stevens said.

One example Stevens gave was funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System, which would be majority funded by the federal government.

"In the past we have always funded, to a pretty large extent, the Marine Highway System the state has up to about 20 million dollars this year in the governor's budget. There's only five million dollars and the balance is made up by a federal funds and the concern I have there is that if you start using federal funds and next year's gonna be even harder to fully fund that budget," Stevens said.

And though the state has known the aging seagoing ferry Tustumena needs replacement, Stevens says it took federal funds to get the project underway.

We rang the bell about having to replace the Tustumena and trying to make everyone aware. But but it really was the federal government that put money into rebuilding to building the new replacement for the Tustumena . So that's moving ahead. The plans are great. It'll be it'll be a wonderful vessel when it's done. It'll be much faster. It'll be a require fewer crew easier access and exit from the ship itself. So so many good things. Look forward to that new the new vessel when it's on," Stevens said.

Regarding schools, Stevens says there’s funding in the budget for education at every level.

"Good thing of course is that the governor's budget does include funding for for schools at at this at over front of last year. It also includes funding for the for the the past costs of building schools that's taken care of this year, which is good. It was not last year and that that would be a relief to the boroughs and and the school districts that are concerned about that. So there's a very good things in this budget. I believe the university is has been the governor has backed down on his third year of major slash the university and there are some additional funds coming into the university mainly through the federal government to help in in some construction issues," Stevens said.

One of the top priorities for the city is funding for the harbor expansion project, which Stevens says should be an easy sell to his fellow legislators, especially with so many federal funds available.

Jay Barrett, KBBI's new News Director should be a familiar voice to our listeners. He's been contributing to Kenai Peninsula news for the last three years out of KDLL Kenai, and was the voice of The Alaska Fisheries Report from KMXT for 12 years. Jay worked for KBBI about 20 years ago as the Central Peninsula Reporter at KDLL.