U.S. military service members will get a 2.7% pay raise. Alaska Native students will see more funds for education. And the University of Alaska Fairbanks will receive support to advance a drone development program.
The 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act that Congress adopted last week contains federal funds for numerous projects, programs and services for Alaskans. U.S. Sen. Murkowski authored and led Alaska initiatives.
“When it comes to congressionally directed funded we have identified 67 different programs by different communities from the small Mat-Su Food Bank that needed assistance to the city manager of Kodiak asking for help to replace a failing wastewater station,” Murkowski said at a press conference Monday.
Murkowski also noted $2 million that will go to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to research and test drones that will aid law enforcement.
The director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration at UAF thanked Murkowski for the federal support.
“We look forward to working with our Alaskan colleagues to identify and test technologies that will work in Alaska’s challenging environment to protect law enforcement personnel, assets and infrastructure,” said Dr. Cathy Cahill, who directs the center.
U.S. Rep. Don Young led and sponsored Alaska programs in the House. He noted, for example, additional funding for UAF that includes $2 million for construction and equipment of the Kuskokwim Health Sciences facilities, a remote campus in Bethel.
Young, along with Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, also helped to secure $10 million for the future Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, which will be run by the Department of Defense in Anchorage.
Murkowski advocated for establishing an ambassador at large for the Arctic region or a U.S. coordinator for the Arctic region, which was included in the final bill.
Other projects for Alaska include $750,000 for “Salmon and People,” which engages communities in the stewardship of wild salmon in the Cook Inlet.
Young and Murkowski helped to direct $15.1 million for the Denali Commission, which also will receive $90.1 million in federal funds through the Infrastructure and Jobs Act.
Alaska Natives will benefit from federal support for education, including $38 million for the Alaska Native Education Equity program, a $1.5 million increase over last fiscal year.
For the U.S. military, there is $80 million in federal funds to develop a polar security Coast Guard cutter, initiated by Murkowski.
“We are on track to build out our polar security,” Murkowski said about plans to develop three ice breakers. “What we are talking about is not just one but what we could honestly regard as a fleet. The recommendation was for a fleet of six. We are moving on our way.”
The appropriations act also provides $50 million to enhance military Arctic communications. Young noted that the bill provides an additional $3 million for suicide prevention programs at remote and isolated military installations, including Alaska bases.