Senate committee advances transportation fund measure

Rep. Peggy Wilson speaks during a House Resources Committee meeting during the 28th Alaska Legislature, March 17, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Rep. Peggy Wilson speaks during a House Resources Committee meeting during the 28th Alaska Legislature, March 17, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

A measure setting up a road-and-ferry savings account has cleared its first state Senate committee.

What’s called the transportation infrastructure fund would also pay for airport, harbor and similar projects.

House Joint Resolution 10 has gained support from construction and development groups.

At a recent hearing, Tom Brice said the three laborers’ unions he represents support the measure.

“It breaks down some constitutional barriers that exist in terms of establishing long-term planning for the transportation needs to the state.”

Wrangell Republican Representative Peggy Wilson authored the resolution, which the House approved in March. It passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday.

Wilson told the panel the measure resurrects a system used in territorial days.

“There were already two transportation funds in existence before we became a state. One was for roads and one was for ferries and harbors. So we’re combining both of them into one.”

The next stop is the Senate Finance Committee, then the chamber’s floor.

Wilson’s resolution would put a constitutional amendment before voters in November. Passage would allow the fund to be created.

Separate bills establishing and appropriating $2 billion into the fund are not expected to pass this year. Wilson says that will come later.

She says the fund would pay for more transportation projects. Critics, including the governor, say it could shrink the amount of money spent.

Watch the committee hearing courtesy of Gavel Alaska:

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