Governor Dunleavy Gives State of the State
Governor of Alaska Mike Dunleavy gave his state of the state address for the year of 2022. He focused on several key issues that the government would be working on over this next year. These included crime, oil, food security, healthcare, and more.
In his initial remarks about crime, Governor Dunleavy noted all of the metrics that have decreased since he first took office and since certain pieces of legislation were repealed. This included a nearly 30% decline in the overall crime rate throughout the state between 2019 and 2020, along with a 31.5% drop in murder rates and a 54% drop in the rate of car thefts. All of those numbers were as of 2020. Burglary and larceny theft were down by 22% and robbery by 15%, both of those as of 2020 as well.
In terms of those working to fight existing crime, Dunleavy spoke about the effort to increase the number of trooper positions, as well as the effort to get certain types of crime units set up in new areas of the state. He remarked that they are expecting to have two full public safety academies this year, which could provide as many as 60 new troopers for the state. He touched on the addition of major crimes investigators to the western region of the state. This is the first time in history that this has happened. He is also hoping to add a deputy fire marshal and a crime scene technician. Pay increases have also been authorized for public safety officials in the state’s villages.
One other area of crime the governor focused on was getting all DNA kits analyzed to make sure there isn’t a backlog, especially when it comes to sexual assault cases. He has tasked the state’s crime lab to ensure that all DNA kits are examined within 90 days of their arrival. He also had a funding request approved to allow ten corrections personnel to collect DNA from those arrested or convicted for certain crimes in an attempt to solve current and future crimes, as well as old cold cases.
Oil and Economy
Dunleavy was very up front about Alaska’s current oil and economy situation. First, he spoke about how oil production is headed in the right direction, which would be a huge boost for the state’s economy. The Governor stated that right now, Alaska is producing approximately 540,000 barrels of oil per day. And with major projects being built up, he says they have the potential to add another 300,000 barrels per day on top of that. That being said, he also warned that the future of Alaska is at risk with the policies coming from Washington DC. He fears that the moves being made to try and transition into renewable energy will severely damage Alaska more than anyone because of how much they rely on the business they get for their oil. Dunleavy remarked that the country has the ability to be far more self-sustaining when it comes to obtaining oil.
On this subject, Dunleavy said, “… the policies coming from Washington DC make absolutely no sense and, quite frankly, border on insanity. Why do I say that? Because no president should have to beg for more oil from the Middle East or Russia’s Arctic when we can produce it right here better and safer than anywhere else on the planet! This is common sense! This misguided policy only caters to extremists in the environmental movement, and strangely, to the leaders of countries that are not our friends. Folks, our enemies are laughing all the way to the bank.”
He also stated that the state’s ability to transition to the use of renewable energy sources relies on the revenue gained from oil.
When it comes to the more general economy, Governor Dunleavy touched on the main idea that the government must work to protect the resources of the people. The main way in which he is trying to do this is by bettering the state’s permanent fund dividend program so that more of the average Alaskan residents can get their fair share of the revenue. One thing he has done is reduce the budget for state spending by 7% as compared to 2019. He is also calling on the state’s legislature to really listen to the people when it comes to the permanent fund. He noted that it was especially important to support those that don’t send lobbyists to try and get a bigger percentage, saying, “my job is to represent Alaskans who don’t have lobbyists. That’s not just my job. That’s your job as well. We can’t forget why we’re here, and who sent us here.” He hopes that the legislature will either work to make sure that the current law is upheld, or will otherwise change it with the consent of the Alaskan people.
When it comes to healthcare within the state, Governor Dunleavy has outlined several goals that he wants to see completed. First, the government is working with the Board of Nursing and the State Hospital Association to secure and retain approximately 600 nursing assistants, which he hopes will provide long-term support for the state’s staffing situation in the healthcare field. Dunleavy also announced a $2.1 million grant to the University of Alaska Anchorage Nursing school to acquire and retain additional staff so that they can train and graduate more nurses. Beyond that, Dunleavy noted that the fiscal year budget includes a 50% increase to the number of students in the WWAMI program. They are also waiting on approval from the legislature to increase the number of seats in the University of Washington School of Medicine from 26 to 30. This would allow for more doctors to be trained and prepared to work in Alaska.
The Governor also touched on Covid-19, praising the state for all it has done to try and protect the lives of the state’s citizens. He says that moving forward, he will work to protect the medical rights of the state’s citizens. He believes that the people deserve a say in the vaccines and therapeutics they take and that it is not up to the state to make those decisions for them. He wants people to have the tools they need to maintain their health to the fullest. He also spoke about how it is time for Alaskans to understand that the virus is never going away and that they need to begin learning how to implement it into their daily lives.
Governor Dunleavy made it known that he finds food security a very important issue for Alaska. He noted that while the most recent salmon harvest was the third-largest in the state’s history, there were certain areas like the western end of the state that weren’t so lucky and saw some all time lows. For those impacted villages, Dunleavy said that they were able to secure tens of thousands of pounds of salmon which would be distributed. In order to fight the bad outcomes for these regions, he is proposing a Bycatch Review Task Force, which will use science and data to determine the causes for these issues and will give recommendations on how to fix the problem.
He also wants to put more land into the hands of the people. He spoke about the farming potential of Alaska, but says that as of right now, only 4% of the state’s land is in private hands. He stated that right now there are bills waiting in the legislature that would expand land reform so that it is easier for Alaskans to obtain land. This would lead to an increase in the agricultural sector, further securing food supplies for all citizens of the state. He is urging the legislature to move on these bills so that people don’t have to worry about keeping food on the table.
Governor Dunleavy is up for reelection this year and will be running for a second term in office. Alaskans will be able to attend the primaries on August 16.