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Anchorage, Alaska – Incoming leaders of the Alaska House Majority Caucus welcomed Alaska’s 11th Governor, Bill Walker, into office Tuesday, along with his Lieutenant Governor, Byron Mallott.
“We congratulate Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott on their win,” said Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski. “Now, the work of governing begins. We look forward to learning of the new administration’s plans for the FY2016 state operating budget and the supplemental budget for the current fiscal year. The House is willing to work with the new administration to continue our record of lowering the operating budget, and prioritizing services for Alaskans.”
The Majority worked with the prior administration over the past three years to reign in state spending, seeing reductions in the operating budget each year, culminating in last year’s two percent decrease.
“Alaskans elected Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott because they set aside their partisan differences and agreed to work together to move Alaska forward. That’s inspiring. Now, we in the Majority get to work with them and continue securing Alaska’s future,” said incoming House Majority Leader Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage. “Our Caucus has partisan and regional diversity; it’s something we’ve prided ourselves on since I’ve been in the Legislature, and I’m glad to see that spirit now on the Capitol’s third floor.”
Majority leaders are awaiting the new governor’s proposed FY 2016 operating budget and supplemental budget for the current fiscal year, in light of the lower than forecast North Slope crude oil prices, and Walker’s campaign promises to expand Medicaid while cutting the budget by 16 percent.
“These are exciting and challenging times for Alaska. I look forward to working with Governor Walker and his team to reduce government spending and increase jobs and opportunities for Alaskans,” said House Rules Chairman Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage. “I’m absolutely convinced Alaska’s best days are still ahead. With foresight, commitment and a pioneering spirit – we can do anything.”
The House Majority has made fiscal responsibility one of its Guiding Principles for the past three Legislatures, and members have followed up on that pledge by reducing state spending on operations, passing comprehensive state department audit requirements, long range fiscal planning for agencies and creating a Finance Subcommittee on fiscal issues.
“Fiscal issues will be front and center, not just this session, Walker’s first, but for the foreseeable future,” said incoming House Finance Committee Co-Chair Mark Neuman, R-Su-Valley. “Crafting a sustainable budget is the number one issue the executive branch and Legislature will face, and we’re ready to work with the new administration on continuing our path of responsible reductions and fostering new economic opportunity for our state.”
“I congratulate Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott. My hope is our Committee, and the Legislature in general, will have a close and respectful working relationship,” said incoming House Finance Committee Co-Chair Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks. “We’re going to have some lean times ahead, and will need strong bonds to build sound fiscal policy for the betterment of Alaska.”
Governor Walker was sworn into office yesterday, Monday, Dec. 1. The Legislature convenes Jan. 20 in Juneau.