Alaska’s governor says he wants policies that support families
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy told lawmakers late Monday that he wants to work with them to make Alaska “the most pro-life state in the country,” with policies that support families and the state affordable and desirable. place to live.
“Children are a blessing and they should not be seen as a burden. But we all have to accept that raising a family is more challenging today than it was when many of us were growing up,” the Republican told a joint session of the legislature during the first State of the State address of his second term.
He cited inflation and the cost of housing, food and energy, which he said “made people think twice about expanding their families or even starting one.”
He said if policymakers are successful, they will implement policies to lower the cost of living, address health care options and help create jobs with wages that can support families.
The Alaska Supreme Court has interpreted the state constitution’s right to privacy as abortion rights.
Dunleavy said lawmakers have a chance this session to “change the course of Alaska’s history.” He pushed for action on a range of initiatives, including legislation targeting crime and public health and efforts to promote the state, which he called a “resource powerhouse.”
The speech, delivered a week after a new legislative session, also touched on familiar themes for Dunleavy, who in November became Alaska’s first governor since 1998 to win consecutive terms. Those included fighting federal actions that were seen as stalling or delaying energy development projects.
He also praised what he saw as successes of his first term, such as the passing of legislation aimed at improving student reading skills and the payment of $3,284 to residents last fall, which represents a combination of the annual dividend from the oil fund of the state and a special energy deduction.
The controls were approved by lawmakers last year when oil was trading at around $115 a barrel. More recently, North Slope oil has been in the $80 per barrel range. Dunleavy is proposing a dividend of approximately $3,860 this year. Republican Senate President Gary Stevens has expressed concern that the amount is too high given the obligations for other government departments.
The Senate majority has expressed interest in addressing education funding and retirement and retention issues for teachers.
The 20-member Senate is controlled by a bipartisan coalition of nine Democrats and eight Republicans. The 40-member House has a Republican-led majority of 23 members, including two nationwide Democrats and two nationwide independents. Two House Republicans — Representatives Louise Stutes and David Eastman — are neither in a majority nor a minority.
Dunleavy used a cheery tone in his televised address, saying he was optimistic about the start of the new session “because I believe what we are doing now in the next four months will set the course of Alaska not only for the next four years, but for the next 50 years and beyond.”
He talked about efforts to improve food security and his carbon monetization proposal. Lawmakers have expressed interest in learning more about the carbon plan, which Dunleavy billed as a way to generate revenue for the state.
Senate Majority members described the speech as positive. Stevens said he has seen a change in Dunleavy, whose relationship with lawmakers was at times contentious during his first term. Stevens said he thinks Dunleavy is “more comfortable” in his role as governor and believes the Senate can find common ground with Dunleavy.
Senator Bill Wielechowski, a Democrat from Anchorage, said he appreciated Dunleavy’s comments about supporting families. But he said he hoped part of such efforts would include measures to address affordable housing and child care, to address a backlog in food stamp distribution and K-12 funding.
Prior to Dunleavy’s speech, there was a rally outside the Capitol in support of education funding.
House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, an Anchorage independent, said in a statement that his caucus is “encouraged that the governor is focused on making Alaska a great place to raise a family.” Schrage said adding money for schools, addressing pensions for teachers and public safety officials, and increasing investment in maternal and child health are ways to do that.
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