State officials say budget cuts increase danger to residents

Photo courtesy MGN Online Image Id: 353462 11/22/2016
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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) Alaska environmental conservation officials are warning lawmakers that budget cuts are increasing the dangers to residents.

The Juneau Empire reported Wednesday that the state Department of Environmental Conservation warned lawmakers as they work this week to finalize the budgets of various state agencies.

The department has seen its operating budget reduced from $87.9 million in 2014 to a proposal of $80.2 million for fiscal year 2019.

The department is tasked with enforcing drinking water safety, sanitation standards, food safety and responding to oil spills.

Christina Carpenter, director of the Division of Environmental Health, says the funding cuts have completely changed how the department inspects restaurants, grocery stores and the sources of Alaska residents' food.

Despite the cuts, lawmakers say residents should still trust the conservation department to keep them safe.

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