Funding restored to Denali Commission

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) The Denali Commission, which builds health clinics, water systems and other facilities in rural Alaska, received more than $100 million in federal funding for the current fiscal year.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who convinced Congress to create the commission in 1998, got $27 million in funding restored.

The Bush administration earlier this year proposed the $27 million cut. But the funding was restored when the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $40 million for the commission in the proposed annual spending bill for the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services this week. Stevens is chairman of the committee.

The committee, in its report on the bill, said restoring the funding would help remote communities in Alaska develop critically needed health and social service. The report said funding for those services was not available elsewhere.

The committee also recommended $7 million for the Denali Commission to create job training programs in rural Alaska.

''Funding will allow un- and underemployed rural Alaskans to train for high paying jobs in their villages,'' the committee said.

It also noted in its report that it expects the Denali Commission to fund a variety of health care and social-service facilities in rural Alaska, not just clinics.

Other Alaska-related items in the bill include:

$36 million for programs focused on supplementing educational opportunities for Alaska Natives. That would be up from $31 million last year. Bush's budget requested $14.2 million for the programs, which were created by Stevens several years ago.

$11 million for educational institutions that serve Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. This year's funding is $8 million.

Language asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase spending on vaccines in Alaska.

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