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Rep. Lynn Gattis could cash in from KABATA

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 9, 2013

CONTACT: Zack Fields

(907) 258-3077

 

 

 

Rep. Lynn Gattis could cash in from KABATA

Representative’s family owns land that would become much more valuable from project

 

ANCHORAGE:  After a legislative audit revealed that taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $1.4 billion dollars as a result of insufficient toll revenue from the Knik Arm Crossing, a land ownership analysis found that at least one state Representative in Juneau could benefit financially from road construction.  The family of Representative Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla) owns land adjacent to the Knik Arm Crossing approach in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and would see her land appreciate as a result of substantially increased development value.

“The KABATA boondoggle puts taxpayers on the hook for up to $1.4 billion and it could also enrich a legislator at taxpayer’s expense,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.  “This is just the latest example of Republican conflicts of interest in Juneau.”

This project is one of several multi-billion dollar bills that use Alaska taxpayers’ money on behalf of private special interests.  “It is a violation of Owner State principles to socialize the expense of projects while privatizing the profits.  Either private companies take the risk and get the reward, or if the public takes risks then we should benefit when projects succeed,” said Wenstrup.

Representative Gattis has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of state and local money in the past.  While serving as a member of the Mat-Su Borough School Board, she received $65,225 from the Borough to construct a haul road across her property.  That haul road was never constructed, but Gattis did not return the money to Mat-Su taxpayers.  At the time she took $65,225 from Mat-Su Borough, Gattis was using a $630,000 loan from the state.  One of the conditions of the $630,000 loan was that it be used for undeveloped agricultural land, a condition which would have been violated by the haul road.[i]

Under the terms of HB 23, Alaska taxpayers would be responsible for covering all of the $1.4 billion in bridge and approach costs which is not covered by tolls.  The legislative audit found that toll revenue would be grossly inadequate to cover costs of the bridge.  However, any toll profits from the bridge would accrue to private contractors, not Alaska taxpayers—a lose-lose proposition for the public.  Today, House Republicans proposed transferring management of KABATA to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, but that transfer of managerial responsibility does not address the underlying problem of taxpayer exposure to costs and projected shortfalls in toll revenue.

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[i] http://www.frontiersman.com/news/gattis-had-loan-conflict/article_37284da8-24bb-11e2-ad51-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=story

 

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