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Governor Dunleavy Delivers 6th State of the State Address Focusing on Opportunities for Alaska Present and Future

Jan 30, 2024

This evening, Governor Dunleavy delivered his 6th annual State of the State Address to a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature, outlining opportunities for a successful Alaska both present and future.

“As long as I’m governor, I’m going to work to make sure that the Alaska dream is within reach for anyone who wants to pursue it, so that we can realize our motto of North to the Future,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “We’re in competition for people, and that’s why we’re proposing policies this year to make Alaska the best place to live, have a family, and do business.”

Governor Dunleavy’s address focused on public safety, education reform and legislation that creates an affordable environment for Alaskan families to grow and thrive.

Key Excerpts from Governor Dunleavy’s 2024 State of the State Address.

Public safety is the number one responsibility for any government

“With vigilance and a relentless pursuit of justice, we’ll build an Alaska where we can all feel safe everywhere, and criminals can’t escape justice anywhere,” said Governor Dunleavy.

Dunleavy’s remarks highlighted a series of actions and investments that have improved public safety in Alaska. The reversal of cuts to State Troopers, Village Public Safety Officers (VPSO) and the repeal of SB 91 policies, coupled with increased funding, has led to a notable decline in the overall crime rate. The VPSO budget has seen an 81 percent increase, including both additional positions and salary raises. Moving forward, Dunleavy’s proposed budget allocates additional resources to investigators for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons, sexual assault victims, and crimes against children.

Dunleavy emphasized the ongoing pursuit for a safer Alaska. He said, “We can’t let up for a moment, and I’m asking for your continued support for more resources.”

Alaska needs education reform

“While Governors and Legislators have funded education in the past, what’s been lacking is the commitment to ensure our students are performing at the level we expect,” said Governor Dunleavy. “For far too long, the drumbeat for more money in the BSA has drowned out nearly every other conversation. The conversation always seems to begin and end only with money. As long as the conversation is only focused on money, it’s difficult to discuss improving outcomes. Thanks to a single vote in 2022, we’ve finally started having that conversation about outcomes. As a result of that moment, we’re focused on implementing the Alaska READS Act to ensure that every student — every student — achieves proficiency in reading by the third grade.”

Dunleavy spoke of the importance of shifting the conversation toward improving outcomes, exemplified by the implementation of the Alaska READS Act and emphasized the significance of investing in and incentivizing classroom teachers, with proposed legislation offering monetary incentives based on location and tenure.

“The classroom is where the student learns to read, to learn math and science, and to forge a positive relationship with their teacher. That’s why I introduced House Bill 106 last year, and I’m calling on the members of the Legislature to approve legislation to provide incentive payments to classroom teachers,” said Governor Dunleavy.

The Teacher Retention and Recruitment Incentive bill identifies cash payment tiers for each school district in the amount of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000. The highest tier payments are directed to Alaska’s remote and rural schools. The $10,000 tier is targeted toward rural schools that, despite their remoteness, are sufficiently linked to Alaska’s urban networks to allow for more regular access to goods and services. The $5,000 tier is focused on incentivizing teachers in Alaska’s most urbanized areas.

Dunleavy continued, “Investing in our classroom teachers isn’t just the right thing to do. It’ll also strengthen our ability to recruit and retain them in a highly competitive world.”

Affordability for Alaskans through energy, housing, and food security

“Public safety and education are critical to achieving our initiatives to make Alaska the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Just as critical will be lowering the cost of energy and housing,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We’ll be introducing legislation to eliminate electrical tariffs on the Railbelt system that currently stand in the way of transmitting the lowest-cost power.”

“We’ve also introduced legislation to improve the economics of our Cook Inlet natural gas, and we’ll continue to advance the AKLNG Project that will deliver low-cost energy to Alaskans,” said Dunleavy.

He continued, “Whether it’s coal, natural gas, advanced nuclear, or our abundant renewable resources, we must pursue every energy opportunity to secure affordable and sustainable supplies for Alaska.”

Dunleavy emphasized the importance of patience, investment, and skilled labor for completing infrastructure projects in Alaska. While these projects generate employment opportunities, ensuring the retention of the workforce requires affordable housing. Affordable energy and housing serve as catalysts for economic growth, playing a crucial role in attracting and retaining residents in Alaska despite limited population growth.

“Thanks to the work at AHFC, its dividend to the state has also nearly doubled this year, to $48 million. With your support, AHFC will use part of this dividend to create a new mortgage down payment assistance program,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We estimate this new program will be able to help 1,100 to 1,300 families purchase their first home. We’re also working to lower the price of these first homes by reducing the cost of materials.”

Last year, Governor Dunleavy signed legislation establishing a state lumber grading bill which will make it more affordable to build new homes using Alaska grown timber. New forest management policies to prevent fires, combat disease, and generate revenue through carbon sequestration, biomass, and increased timber sales. Additionally, it underscores Alaska’s continued significance in meeting global demand for oil, natural gas, and minerals, positioning the state as a leader in resource development.

“At the same time, our oil, natural gas, and minerals of all kinds will remain in high demand around the world for decades to come, and we’ll continue to demonstrate that nobody can develop those resources better than Alaska,” said Governor Dunleavy. “There’s no doubt we’ve done well developing some of our natural resources, but like our forests, we can do better developing our vast lands and waters to feed Alaskans.”

Governor Dunleavy wants to improve food security by harnessing Alaska’s abundant natural resources. While Alaskans have always relied on wild harvests, Governor Dunleavy is leading efforts to bolster agricultural production. Through efforts such as the CROP Act released Jan.26.

“Alaska is blessed with abundant and clean lands and waters, and we can develop these resources to become food independent once again,” said Governor Dunleavy.

Governor Dunleavy concluded:

“In the end, leadership requires conviction in one’s values to make the right decisions, especially in the face of daunting odds. Political history is littered with examples of those who have taken on these odds and lost. Defeat is always possible for those who try, but for those who don’t, it’s guaranteed,” said Governor Dunleavy.

He continued: “I’m willing to accept the risk of losing. I won’t accept the risk of not trying. Success will be within our reach, if we’re willing to seize the opportunities in front of us. No to the Future, or North to the Future. The choice is up to us.”

Additional Links:
2024 State of the State Address
Dunleavy’s proposed teacher incentives
State of the State Special Guest Press Release