Only 15 seconds into my April 12 one-minute public testimony for the state operating budget, my microphone was abruptly muted by Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
His justification, explained afterward was, “We are talking about the operating budget.”
If freeing up $32 million to put toward genuine transportation needs is an invalid suggestion toward relieving our state’s fiscal crisis, then Alaska residents have no hope for honest fiscal conservatism. Stedman, a Sitka resident, may have an alternative rationale for muting my testimony.
Censoring legitimate concerns of abuses of power serving private interests comes to mind here.
The following is my full testimony:
Gov. Mike Dunleavy should immediately cancel the March 19 contract award of the Sitka-Katlian Road on Baranof Island and redirect the tens of millions saved to short-funded transportation projects or deferred maintenance elsewhere.
The project is a nine-mile, single lane, gravel “road to nowhere” that dead-ends at a rudimentary trailhead. It is a closeted poster child of unbridled bureaucratic spending for which the governor has great scorn.
Voter approved in a 2012 bond package, construction costs for this boondoggle were already exorbitant at $14 million. However, the successful 2019 bid came in at $32 million — more than double the authorized price tag — not including maintenance. The successful bidder is from Portland, Oregon.
Although the contract has been finalized, the state would still maintain fiscal discipline by forfeiting any cancellation penalties and cutting its losses.
Dunleavy clearly has the power to reinstate the previous hold put in place on the project, whether or not the funds were secured before our ship of state throttled into its fiscal icebergs.
• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.