Chenault: Address state’s needs while keeping spending under control

  • By Mike Chenault
  • Wednesday, August 13, 2014 8:01pm
  • Opinion

I am very humbled and proud that the voters of my House District have had faith in my abilities to send me to Juneau for the past 7 terms. I am also proud of the fact that my colleagues in the State House have selected me as the Speaker of the House for the past six years. I have strived to meet the needs of my constituents and have and will continue to place an emphasis on education; road improvements; life, health and safety needs and economic opportunities.

One accomplishment of which I am particularly proud is the work I have undertaken to promote a gas pipeline. Beginning with House Bill 369, in 2010, which set up a team to look at aspects of an in-state gasline to House Bill 9 and finally House Bill 4, establishing the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation and its’ duties, which were sponsored or co-sponsored by either Representative Hawker or myself, promoting an in-state gasline has definitely been one of the achievements of which I believe will bring lower energy costs, jobs and energy security to the residents of our state and district. Without the passage of HB 369 and House Bill 4, I don’t believe we would have had the progress that we are now seeing on an Alaska LNG project that is being reviewed and planned by the state, AGDC, the producers and TransCanada. I will continue to work with all parties to do whatever I can to see a project through its completion.

Education is and has been a priority for me as well. We have continually provided additional funding for education throughout the time I have been in office. The most important part to remember we’ve funded both inside and outside of the foundation formula. State funding in FY04 for education totaled $675.5 million and has increased to the point that in FY 14, over $1,9 billion in state funds was invested in our educational system. Our total investment in K-12 is over $2.8 billion when you take into account state, local and federal dollars for both operating and capital expenditures. An increase in the area cost differential for our district is another aspect of the formula that I fought for and achieved, which meant that the Kenai Peninsula School District was treated fairly and received additional funding due to the number of rural schools within our district.

There have been numerous requests for capital improvements throughout not only my district but the entire Peninsula as well. Road funds for the Borough, capital improvements for Kenai Peninsula College, fire stations for Ninilchik, Nikiski and Bear Creek, the Sea Life Center in Seward, harbor improvements, the Sterling Community Center, Bear Creek flood mitigation, Boys and Girls Club, the Kenai State Fair in Ninilchik, areawide school projects, emergency response equipment, landfill improvements, and numerous other projects to promote, the health, safety, quality of life we expect on the Peninsula, and promoting economic opportunities have been priorities for me and Peninsula residents

It is imperative we begin a systematic approach to controlling the state’s operating budget. I sponsored legislation that requires a governmental audit of each state agency within a ten-year period to look at all programs within each department to determine whether or not each of these functions is providing the services for which it is intended and to look for cost cutting measures. This is a start of bringing government spending under control.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I would appreciate your vote in the primary and general elections.

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