He confirmed some people’s worries, saying the lawsuit could jade his and other lawmakers’ perspective toward Ketchikan funding.
The lawsuit, which the borough filed in January, argues that municipalities in Alaska should not have to pay a local contribution for public education. If the suit is successful, it could hold the state accountable for hundreds of millions more dollars in education spending.
“When Ketchikan asks for money but yet the state might be on the hook in the lawsuit for more money, there’s kind of a reluctance or a reticence to step forward for other projects,” Parnell said.
Parnell says he understands the frustration behind the lawsuit. But he thinks a local contribution for education is a good thing.
“I think it helps keep people connected to the school district and helps really make people interested and invested in the school district and the system that is here for our kids,” he said.
Parnell says the looming possibility of shelling out millions more in education funding could make legislators more cautious about what they spend now. And he says it might particularly affect funding for Ketchikan projects.
“There are unintended consequences from having filed the lawsuit,” Parnell said. “And that’s something your legislators will be dealing with in Juneau this year, and for however long [the lawsuit] takes.”
Alaska lawmakers are currently meeting for the second session of the 28th Legislature.