Gov. Bill Walker issued an administrative order Friday halting new funding and new contractual obligations for the Juneau Access Road, Ambler Road, Susitna-Watana Dam, Kodiak Launch Complex, Knik Arm Crossing and the Alaska Standalone Pipeline Project.
The state departments which oversee the projects have been asked to submit a report by Jan. 5 listing operating costs to date, funding obligations and “potential effects of delaying, suspending or terminating contracts.”
Until Walker reviews those reports and says otherwise, the departments may not sign any new contracts or commit to any new funding from the federal government.
The administrative order is a response to oil prices that have plummeted over the year. In 2014 oil revenue accounted for 88 percent of the state’s general fund spending. General funds, also known as unrestricted funds, make up more than half of the state’s total budget.
“Our budget deficit grows deeper as oil prices go lower,” Walker said in a statement released Saturday. He added: “This is a way for us to not commit new money into projects that may not be continued during this fiscally challenging time.”
Last spring the state forecasted the average price of oil at $105 a barrel. At that price the state expected a $1.1 billion revenue shortfall against the expected $5.6 billion in FY15 general fund spending. In June the price reached a high of $105, but since then it’s dropped by half to $54.
- The union representing Haines municipal employees has filed a grievance against the borough on behalf of police officers. The grievance stems from Assembly member Tom Morphet’s decision to publicize accusations against the police department at an Assembly meeting earlier this month.
- House Bill 211 sponsored by Kiana Democrat Dean Westlake met opposition in a House session early Monday afternoon.
- The legislation would close a quarter of the gap between what the state government spends and what it raises.
- Sen. Kevin Meyer said his constituents oppose creating a new bureaucracy to collect an income tax when the Permanent Fund continues to pay dividends.