Capital budget brings big benefits

The Kenai Peninsula received a jolt of good news last week as Gov. Sean Parnell signed off on the state’s capital budget.

Included in the $2.8 billion in capital spending approved by Parnell is $108 million for projects around the Peninsula. Of note is one big ticket item in particular which has been causing some hand-wringing over the borough’s budget — $8.9 million for the borough’s top priority, the Homer Solid Waste Transfer Facility.

“While all projects were not approved, and some were reduced, we feel very fortunate that many projects were found worthy of the governor’s approval,” Borough Mayor Dave Carey wrote in a news release.

Our sentiments exactly. The Homer Solid Waste Transfer Facility project threatened to derail the entire borough budget, or at least eat up a big chunk of the borough’s fund balance.

Other projects on the capital budget list include multi-use community centers, student housing at Kenai Peninsula College, a drift boat takeout on the lower Kasilof, Cook Inlet tidal power generation, Soldotna library expansion, electric transmission projects, road work — it will be hard to find anyone on the Peninsula who won’t benefit from at least one of the approved projects.

It’s important to note that the capital list doesn’t generate itself. We appreciate the work of borough officials, who prioritized their requests, and the work of legislators representing the Peninsula — Tom Wagoner and Gary Stevens in the Senate, and Mike Chenault, Kurt Olson and Paul Seaton in the House — to shepherd those requests through what proved to be a contentious legislative process.

We also appreciate the efforts of the administration to do its homework in vetting those projects. In years past, it has sometimes seemed that projects were vetoed on a whim, and legislators had little direction in what types of projects would make the cut.

There are still some projects that didn’t receive funding, or had the initial amount requested cut by the governor, but we hope to see those projects up for consideration the next time around.

But all in all, the Peninsula will benefit greatly from projects approved in the capital budget. We’re grateful to all who had a hand in making that happen.

In short: There’s something to benefit everyone on the Peninsula in the state’s 2012 capital budget.

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