House panel delays talks on transportation fund

JUNEAU — Alaska lawmakers have delayed their deliberations on establishing a transportation infrastructure fund.

The House Transportation Committee was scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon but canceled the hearing due to a lengthy floor session in which the House passed its operating budget bill.

HB123, the companion bill to Rep. Peggy Wilson’s proposed constitutional amendment, HJR10, will be brought before the committee again Tuesday.

HJR10 would establish a transportation infrastructure fund in Alaska’s Constitution, while HB123 would create the laws to govern the fund. The fund would be financed by money from transportation taxes and other appropriations, and it would pay for capital projects and major maintenance for transportation and related facilities.

The fund could finance state and municipal aviation projects, and improvements to Alaska’s ferry system, harbors, trails, bike paths and railroads.

“To ensure Alaska has the infrastructure necessary to develop our resources as well as improve the living conditions for our citizens we must commit to funding transportation,” Wilson, R-Wrangell, said in a sponsor statement. “Having a dependable revenue stream from year to year will allow Alaska to manage current congestion and maintenance projects as well as develop access to needed resources and energy.”

A similar proposal died in the last Legislature.

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