Governor to declare budget proposals

Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sean Parnell is expected to unveil his 2011 operating and capital budget proposals on Monday, but he did let one item on his list out of the bag this weekend: money for a new science building at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Parnell announced Saturday that his capital budget will include requests totaling $109.5 million for the new Life Sciences Building, which would house classrooms and laboratories. The Legislature must approve the funding.

"Advancement of science in this state is vital to the economic engine of the future," Parnell said in a news release. "We will see more students excel in post-secondary education and training in math and science, which will help them be successful when competing for high-paying jobs in Alaska."

Parnell was scheduled to outline the rest of his budget at a luncheon speech Monday to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

The budget proposals will cover the fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2011.

The proposals will be the first for Parnell as governor. He was elevated to the job in July following the resignation of Sarah Palin.

Parnell, who built up a reputation as a fiscal conservative as co-chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee, said in September the state must operate within its means. He said he was committed to a fiscally responsible budget aiming for his top priorities - economic growth for the state and stronger families.

He already has announced initiatives that could increase the budget.

Parnell this month announced he will push legislation aimed at addressing domestic violence and the state's sexual assault rate, perennially the highest in the nation.

The plan calls for 15 new village public safety officers next year and 15 more annually for a decade. It also calls for 11 new sexual assault investigators and additional prosecutors and paralegals in the Department of Law. The plan comes with a price tag of $6.7 million.

Parnell in October announced he wanted to establish a program to help Alaska high school students earn tuition scholarships at state schools. The plan calls for the Legislature to set aside $400 million from Alaska's reserve funds to generate earnings for the scholarships.

Parnell in November proposed spending $100 million annually for five years on maintenance needs that have been ignored at Alaska's state-owned buildings and facilities.

On Thursday, he proposed an extra $1.3 million in funding to help figure out why Yukon River salmon runs have been declining.

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