Legislation introduced to address university’s deferred maintenance backlog

January 12, 2024

Exciting legislation: A new bill introduced by Rep. Will Stapp (R-Fairbanks) aims to address backlogged maintenance projects across the University of Alaska system – estimated at over $1.4 billion. The legislation will be up for consideration as lawmakers return to the Capitol next Tuesday.

By the numbers: Facility deferred maintenance and renewal has been the Board of Regents’ number one capital priority for more than twenty years. The strategy is to provide a mechanism for consistent annual state funding to the “University of Alaska Major Maintenance and Modernization Fund” to provide a modest revenue stream of $35 million annually for deferred maintenance projects.

  • Under the plan, the university would commit some of its own money to the maintenance and modernization fund starting in 2028. That would ramp up to $10 million a year by 2034.
  • Spending would be limited to projects on UA’s approved projects list – a six-year list of maintenance and modernization projects. The Legislature would retain control over large projects that require more than $2.5 million in annual spending, and lawmakers would have the power to add or remove projects from the list.

Why it matters: Sustained focus on long-term capital planning allows for better project execution. Predictable funding will also strengthen the construction industry by allowing contractors to scale operations and supporting new job growth across the State.

  • More predictable funding would bring UA greater financial stability. When similar funding levels were received in the past, UA was able to flatten the deferred maintenance curve.

The big picture: The UA system represents 40% of the state’s capital infrastructure, and the bill would protect the state’s investment in university facilities.

  • ​​UA facilities are used by the public and our strategic partners, but UA bears the long-term costs of ownership. 

Reality check: Though the bill contains language saying the Legislature intends to add $35 million to the fund each year, the final yearly contribution would be up to the House, Senate and governor. 

  • The State Relations team is working for a companion bill to be introduced in the Senate.
  • Proposed legislation can change during the session or by governor veto.
  • Ideally the $35 million would be added into the language section of the operating budget every year.