This is a commission that was created in 1998 that was supposed to do for Alaska, what the Appalachian Regional commission Denali is supposed to do for Alaska. Here’s a description of the commission’s history and goals:
the Denali Commission is an independent federal agency designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska. With the creation of the Denali Commission, Congress acknowledged the need for increased inter-agency cooperation and focus on Alaska’s remote communities. Since its first meeting in April 1999, the Commission is credited with providing numerous cost-shared infrastructure projects across the State that exemplify effective and efficient partnership between federal and state agencies, and the private sector.
I question the wisdom of this program when the program it’s based on, the Appalachian Regional Commission, hasn’t succeeded in it’s mission over the last 45 years.
The late Senator Stevens essentially created this commission. Some of his critics suggest imply that the commission was just his way of institutionalizing his pork barrel spending. Allgov calls the commission his “pet project”. While in congress, Senator Stevens would lament the difficulty of keeping the commission funded.
It will be interesting if the funding for the program remains without it’s biggest champion in congress. Here is the history of it’s spending and it’s projected spending according to the White House’s latest budget figures. (Raw numbers)
As you can see that the spending on the commission is surging right now – probably from the stimulus, but is set to almost disappear over the next 3 fiscal years. That funding has plenty of time to come back. It’s hard to keep popular programs down, and apparently, many rural Alaskans really like the things it’s doing.