JUNEAU – Tuesday night, Governor Dunleavy issued his fourth State of the State address to the Alaska Legislature. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) issued the following response:
“I’m glad to hear the Governor applaud our need to work together, his acknowledgement of Alaskans who have succeeded against long odds, his championing of renewable energy, education, public safety, and fisheries. But I’m disappointed in his failure to acknowledge the impact of the billions of dollars brought in by the Biden Administration, which has assisted in our ability to address the pandemic, rebuild our infrastructure, and frankly, address our deficit.
“To attack the Biden Administration and say it doesn’t care about us is frankly unfair. The support from the Biden Administration has jumpstarted our economy to overcome our deficit, is driving us to renewable energy, and is helping us to substantially expand broadband. So, if we are going to learn to work together, it has to start with improving the relationship between the Governor and our federal Administration. That’s on the Governor.
“In terms of our future, not acknowledging the need for new revenue in the long-run leaves all Alaskans with uncertainty. Building a budget on the stock market and the volatile price of oil is not a sustainable plan for our next generation. Dictating a vision of a balanced budget, without acknowledging this reality, doesn’t move us forward.
“It was this Governor who attempted to dismantle the University system, cut public education funding, and put the state fiscal burden on local taxpayers in his first budget. We are all encouraged now by a budget that rejects that vision. But if we don’t work toward a sustainable and comprehensive fiscal plan, the Alaska that we all cherish will become even more divided by partisan and election politics.
“The Governor and I have been able to bridge our own political divide, so I would offer this piece of counsel: Heed your advice, and let’s work together – whether it is with a local government or the Biden Administration. As I stated on the first day of this legislative session, we must come together and put the election and partisan politics aside if we are to be successful. If this is truly what the Governor believes, I am ready to join the Governor in this mission.”