We strongly urge the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to approve the $657,000 funding for Kenai Peninsula College as contained in its 2011-2012 budget despite Mayor Carey's most recent reversal on his own submitted budget.
The budget currently before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly funds KPC at the same 1/10 mill equivalent funding level that the voters approved more than 20 years ago.
The voters continuing support for KPC in particular, and the University of Alaska in general, remains clear from last year's University bond issue, which passed by a very substantial majority on the Kenai Peninsula and statewide.
The publicly stated reason for placing KPC funding in the 2011-2012 budget was a laudable desire to encourage rather than jeopardize University construction at KPC. That remains valid. More than $30,000,000 in construction projects at KPC are pending and must be approved by the University Regents. Only one of those projects have approved so far and they would be a major shot in the arm for the local construction industry and our economy.
In addition, Speaker Mike Chenault successfully added an additional $1,800,000 in this year's capital projects budget for the necessary design and planning of long-sought KPC student housing. However, various funding for this bonded project is now subject to line item veto by Governor Parnell and approval by the UA statewide Regents.
In fact, the Kenai Peninsula Borough's capital projects priority list to the Legislature has included this same student housing for the four years prior to the successful 2010 bond approval.
The sudden loss of local political and economic support for KPC would be a slap in the face to the Legislature, the University Regents, and the Governor that could easily result in loss of this major capital project funding and a real blow to putting local resident back to work.
Positive support of KPC funding by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly would send the right message, not the wrong message, to Governor Parnell and the Regents. It is would be unfortunate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to jeopardize final approval and construction of one of its own major capital project submissions to the Legislature just as that project is on the verge of final approval.
This year's statewide capital projects budget has funded big-ticket items like the Homer solid waste transfer site that KPB earlier thought it might have to fund out of cash. As a result, the Borough's budgetary situation has actually improved since the earlier inclusion of funding for KPC.
Kenai Peninsula College is a major economic engine for the entire Kenai Peninsula Borough. It provides a very high direct return to the local economy. It is a highly efficient provider of education and training to industry and our post-secondary students. The Borough's annual funding is critical. Loss of 5 percent from an already lean budget, so late in the game, would create chaos in addition to jeopardizing major local construction projects.
Yours very truly,
Rev. James Duncan
G.A. Fraser, M.D.
Marge Hayes, Ph.D.
Joseph Kashi, J.D.
John Morton, Ph.D.