EDITOR, Daily News:
This week, the Alaska State Legislature is finishing up work on the capital budget. Our priorities for capital projects this year are to use the additional revenue from this year’s high oil prices to take care of our aging infrastructure and past due obligations to districts. In fiscal year 2020, only half of what was owed to communities for school bond debt reimbursement was paid, and nothing was paid in FY ‘21. This year there is a $220 million appropriation to cover the difference in funding over previous years. This is great news for the communities of Ketchikan and Wrangell and their schools. The Legislature has also put $100 million toward the Department of Education’s major maintenance grant fund, and Ketchikan High School is set to receive just over $500,000 for security upgrades from this fund, which was the main priority for the Ketchikan Borough Assembly Lobbying Executive Committee. 
District 36 also received funding for a variety of capital projects. Most of the funding our district will see is for transportation, as the Department of Transportation has allotted $30 million of federal funds toward planning and design of a new mainline vessel for AMHS, just over $14 million for improvements to terminal expansion and seaplane docks and ramp at the Ketchikan International Airport, $1 million for the Hydaburg Seaplane Base rehabilitation, $817,000 for Ketchikan’s Sayles/Gorge street viaduct improvement project, and $3 million for the Wolf Point rock slope stabilization project. Other funding in this budget includes $4.1 million towards Wrangell Water Treatment Plant improvements, and $5 million towards the Mariculture Grant Fund, which will help encourage industry growth in our district. Money left over from previous Ketchikan Pioneer Home projects will be reappropriated to the Pioneer Home for deferred maintenance, including improvements to the HVAC system.
If you have a project in your community that you’d like to see considered for grant funds, there are still opportunities to receive funding; much of the federal Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act money will not flow through the State’s coffers. Instead, this funding has been made available to tribes and local governments and entities. The Alaska Municipal League created a site (akfederalfunding.org) where you can learn more about these funds and how to apply for them. 
These are most of the capital budget items that are likely to end up in the final budget. The Senate Finance Committee added the capital budget into the operating budget, so the next step after Senate floor will be conference committee. 
As always, I value your input on the budget and any other issues, and you can share your thoughts with me by emailing me (rep.dan.ortiz@akleg.gov) ,or calling my office. 
REP. DAN ORTIZ
House District 36
Ketchikan