Frank Murkowski has presented a much-needed plan for road, rail and ferry projects to aid social and economic growth in Alaska.
People rightfully ask how to pay for such transportation projects. There is no need for alarm. Alaska spends millions on projects every year. Frank's point is to use our money for actual projects rather than endless studies. As a practical matter, not much money is required for government-funded capital projects. Alaska expends millions of dollars of Federal Highway Administration funds annually. It's a question of where and how the money is spent. Are we being effective?
State and local governments also consistently fund public works projects through issuance of tax-free bonds. The state of Alaska places construction bond issues on the ballot in nearly every election. In fact, there is a school construction and maintenance bond issue in the amount of $237 million on the November ballot that Frank Murkowski supports.
Tax-free bonds are presently in the 4 percent range, with maturity in 25 to 40 years for projects such as those in the Murkowski plan. That is inexpensive leverage when it means connecting people in neighboring villages or starting to tie Alaska to Canada by road and rail. Bond money for transportation infrastructure is "rented," just as when a home is purchased through a mortgage. The yearly interest is offset by inflation, by economic benefits from the improvement and by usage fees such as at Red Dog. Alaska has many needs for transportation links that will actually pay for themselves by bringing products to market such as in the fishing and mining industries.
Alaskans will benefit greatly from Frank Murkowski's transportation plan. Let's help ourselves and vote for a future.