ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Gov. Bill Walker used his line item veto to kill off a $2.5 million appropriation for the Knik Arm Crossing and a $500,000 vitamin D study promoted by Rep. Paul Seaton, a Homer Republican who says sun-starved Alaskans could benefit from chomping the vitamin.
The $2.5 million from the bridge project will be returned to the general fund from the capital budget. It would have allowed the project to reawaken from the dead after Walker had killed off the project in prior years, but would not come close to paying its billion-dollar price tag, Walker said.
The vitamin D study, in the operating budget, might be redundant — a study of the vitamin is already underway in the Yukon-Kuskowim area, said budget director Pat Pitney. If that study shows more work is needed, Seaton’s proposed statewide study can be put in a future budget, she said.
Walker signed the budget bills and Senate Bill 26, a bill that provides for a fixed 5.25 percent draw from the Permanent Fund earnings reserve for the next three years, in a lunchtime ceremony Wednesday in the new Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program building at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Walker said he chose the venue because education funding was a key component of the budget bill and because the young students at ANSEP represent Alaska’s future.
Walker noted that the operating budget was 2 percent higher than the one he submitted to the Legislature in December. But Walker said he was fine with the additions, since they paid for more education, public safety and a larger Permanent Fund dividend than he originally contemplated.
This is a developing story. Check back later for more information.