The Juneau Assembly spent $375,000 Monday to encourage people to keep legislative sessions in Juneau and to vote for a statewide school bond measure.
Both issues are on the Nov. 5 ballot. Most of the money appropriated Monday - $350,000 - will go to the Juneau-based Alaska Committee's efforts to campaign against Ballot Measure 2. The measure would move legislative sessions to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough or Anchorage. The city has contributed more than $1 million to the effort in the past year.
Another $25,000 would go to Education First, a political action committee campaigning for Proposition C. Both funding items passed unanimously.
Bond Proposition C would devote $236 million in general obligation bonds to education and museum facilities and establish a debt reimbursement program for larger school districts. In Juneau, $9 million of the bond funding would go to a new University of Alaska Fairbanks fisheries lab at Lena Point. The debt reimbursement package would help provide funding for a new high school at Juneau's Dimond Park.
Deputy Mayor Ken Koelsch was the sole "yes" vote to cut the bond campaign funding to $10,000. If the city supports education bonds, it also should support bond measures for harbor and transportation projects and veterans home mortgages, he said. In addition, Koelsch said recent polls have shown most people support the education bond measure.
But Carl Rose, executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards and Education First's treasurer, said the polls came out before news that the state's residents might not receive permanent fund dividends next year. In addition, Anchorage Daily News columnist Mike Doogan urged people to vote against the education bond measure last week, Rose said. How much money the state would have to contribute to debt reimbursement is unclear, Doogan wrote.
Education First has raised about $160,000 and hopes to raise another $100,000, Rose said. Juneau's support should help leverage funding from other communities and groups, he said.
"This presents the state of Alaska with a real opportunity," he said. "We need to get the word out."
The money for both propositions will come from the city's sales tax budget reserves, sometimes called the "rainy day" account. Subtracting the new expenses, the account stands at about $6.7 million, down from approximately $8 million last spring.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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