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PUBLISHED: 4:49 PM on Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Alaskans contribute to future by voicing opinions
Nearly 11 thousand Alaskans responded to the online survey Voices Across Alaska, making waves in the future decisions of the state. The survey, which closed on December 3rd, provided the opportunity for Alaskans to prioritize the Constitutional budget reserve fund, permanent dividend fund, public education fund, PERS/TRS, energy fund and transportation and infrastructure. The poll also contained a section for prioritizing for investing for the future.

Though Governor Sarah Palin has used the web before to ask the public for feedback this is the first year that a survey such as this has been conducted in order to see where Alaskans would prefer to see the money go.

In a press conference December 5th, Governor Palin happily announced the details of the survey's results; introducing a two-year $7.1 billion savings plan. The results of the survey unveiled percentages of Alaskans who chose each category as their number one saving priority. 10.9% of Alaskans chose CBR as their number one choice, 11.2 percent chose PFD, 26 percent public education, 30 percent retirement, 13 percent energy, and 12 percent chose

very pleased with the number of individuals who actually contributed and completed the survey," said Budget Director Karen Rehfeld.

"For years we have been asking how can we be innovative with long term savings accounts," said Palin and added, "your input really does make a difference."

The general results of the two-year savings plan include, investing $2.6 billion in the Education Fund as an investment in our children's future as well as a $1 billion fund for future transportation infrastructure.

It also includes depositing $450 million into funds from the FY08 surplus into TRS to reduce the under funded liability and provide future savings in the states required contributions to TRS, thus replenishing the CBR with $379 million. $250 million is the proposed amount for investing in the renewable energy fund for proposed projects including hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, tidal power, and biomass.

The proposed deposit for the Permanent Fund is $2.4 billion, making it the largest single year deposit in Alaska's history since the fund started. The FY09 operating and capital budgets will be released in Anchorage next week.

"When I see the faces of Alaska's high school students, I am reminded why we are here, to take care of our future," Governor Palin said in reference to the students attending the press conference. Lt. Governor Sean Parnell said to the students, "Our education plan will help take care of you right now and also take care of tomorrow and your children."

Transportation was also a major subject discussed on the 3rd. Commissioner to public transportation said, "we were worried about running out of funds, and this day and age is no time to stop putting projects on the street. If the governor didn't set up the $1 billion fund we would be in dire straits for the future. It accomplishes dual needs: fixing the gas line and rebuilding infrastructure."

More information on these new plans can be found at www.alaska.gov or www.gov.state.ak.us/news


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