Time to get priorities set

Posted: Sunday, February 06, 2011

Borough Mayor Dave Carey and members of the borough assembly will be headed to Juneau this week to meet with legislators regarding the borough's state funding priorities. We encourage our delegation to be persistent and thorough during their visit, as the borough's priority list is long, and legislators already are griping about being pressed for time.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is fortunate to have some strong voices in the Legislature, with Reps. Paul Seaton of Homer, Kurt Olson of Soldotna, and Speaker Mike Chenault of Nikiski in the House, and Sen. Tom Wagoner of Kenai and Senate President Gary Stevens in the Senate.

But it takes more than that to ensure that the borough gets its fair share of funding for projects when the Legislature starts dickering over the state's operating and capital budgets. Indeed, the Legislature over the past few years has crammed the capital budget with projects, only to watch the governor cut many of them. Gov. Sean Parnell last year was more open and transparent with legislators than his predecessor when it came to vetoing projects, but cuts came nonetheless.

So the delegation heading to Juneau must not only touch base with our legislators in the House and Senate, but must also be sure to meet with other influential representatives and senators -- chairs of the committees that would deal with specific funding requests, or legislators with similar issues in their districts who can work with ours in moving legislation along. And they'll also need to talk with legislators who might be opposed to some of these priorities. We have a good idea of how different legislators feel about issues; swaying a legislator or finding one who might be willing to compromise would be a more effective use of time than meeting with one who already supports a project.

And making sure the governor is aware of our priorities is crucial, too, particularly as every other municipality in the state is competing for support.

The borough's priority list is as diverse as the borough itself. It includes items such as a solid waste transfer facility in Homer and security cameras for borough-owned buildings, requests for funding for roads, public retirement systems, school maintenance, a wind turbine for the Nikiski pool, even a columbarium for the cemetery in Kasilof. There's a lot on the list, and every project is important to someone.

With that in mind, we encourage borough residents to keep in touch with our legislators. Time flies during a 90-day session, and we should make sure our government knows which items are truly important to borough residents right now, rather than when the Legislature is ready to adjourn.

To reach your legislators:

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault (District 34)

E-mail: Representative_Mike_Chenault@legis.state.ak.us

800-469-3779

Rep. Kurt Olson (District 33)

E-mail: Representative_Kurt_Olson@legis.state.ak.us

800-463-2693

Rep. Paul Seaton (District 35)

E-mail: Representative_Paul_Seaton@legis.state.ak.us

800-665-2689

Senate President Gary Stevens (District R)

E-mail: Senator_Gary_Stevens@legis.state.ak.us

800-821-4925

Sen. Tom Wagoner (District Q)

E-mail: Senator_Tom_Wagoner@legis.state.ak.us

800-964-5733



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