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Governor outlines session-end goals

Education, public safety, ship pollution at top of Knowles' list

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2001

Gov. Tony Knowles wants more money for education and public safety before the Legislature adjourns May 8.

He also says the Legislature must address his bills dealing with cruise ship pollution, breast and cervical cancer insurance, a minimum wage increase, transportation bonds and conversion of the Pioneers' Homes system to Pioneers' and Veterans Homes.

Knowles wouldn't say whether he would call a special session if the Legislature doesn't approve his "must-have" legislation.

"I don't want to spoil the good feeling about getting it done by the 8th by talking about what might happen if they don't," Knowles said.

Legislative leaders said they share some of the governor's priorities, but differ on the approaches and cost.

"Where the governor's priorities are money, he will probably partially succeed," said Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican. "But remember, if we had funded everything the governor's asked for for the last seven years, we would be well over half a billion dollars further out of balance."

Knowles said the state must invest now to be poised for economic prosperity.

His "must-have" education package includes $45 million more for schools, $500,000 for Head Start, $127 million in bonds for school construction and maintenance, passage of a "fair and responsible" high school exit exam bill and $7.4 million more for the University of Alaska.

Legislators have put some more money into schools. House Speaker Brian Porter, an Anchorage Republican, said he expects a further boost before the session ends, although probably not to the level Knowles would like.

Knowles' public safety package includes money to hire 20 more troopers, 20 more village public safety officers and start a new constable program. It also includes more funding for alcohol treatment and a bill that would help victims collect restitution.

Porter said legislators are working on their own approach to improved public safety. And he said the House will work on cruise ship legislation.

"Whether it approaches the level of regulation that the governor is suggesting, I couldn't say at this point," Porter said.



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