Voices of Alaska: Better together. Together again

  • By Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott
  • Thursday, August 24, 2017 9:23pm
  • Opinion

First and foremost, we want to thank Alaskans for giving us the opportunity to lead in these challenging times. When we last set out on a joint campaign, we knew that tough days were on Alaska’s horizon. We also knew that these times would require hard, unpopular decisions. As a couple of Alaskans born into the Territory of Alaska, intimately invested in this state, we were ready to do the work to secure Alaska’s future. We are committed to building upon the progress that has been made to stabilize and grow Alaska.

People have often wondered how a Republican-turned-Independent and a Democrat can lead the state without becoming embattled. The simple answer is that we draw on the help of all Alaskans, particularly the outstanding members of our cabinet, without regard to party affiliation. And when doing what is best for Alaskans is the only platform, doing what’s right is the only way forward.

With that in mind, we accepted Medicaid Expansion because it’s good for Alaskans. As a result, 35,000 additional Alaskans have health coverage today and lives have been saved. Working with the Legislature, we reformed the state Medicaid program and legislation was enacted that will result in a 22% decrease in the cost of many Alaskans’ health insurance premiums.

Our administration issued a declaration of emergency to address the opioid crisis. With widespread bipartisan support, legislation was adopted to aggressively tackle this epidemic that is stealing the lives of Alaskans young and old.

When we strive for what is best for Alaska, our administration meets with the President of the United States, regardless of party affiliation. We know that anytime we have the President’s ear, it’s an opportunity for Alaska. The federal government affects our state and its residents in a myriad of ways. We have worked with both White House administrations to expedite permitting for our oil and gas industry companies and are close to finally permitting the lifesaving Izembek Road.

The oil and gas industry is vital to Alaska. We put funding in the capital budget to begin the process of developing North Slope Road infrastructure so exploration can continue year-round at a reduced cost.

And Alaska, in all of her majesty and with her vast resources, is vital to the world. This is particularly so with oil and gas, fisheries and tourism. Meeting with the President of China, the President of South Korea and the President of Tokyo Gas in recent months has been invaluable in further developing our international trade relationships.

When we collaborate, we draw on the experience and diversity among us. We formed the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council and the Alaska Marine Highway Advisory Group to make sure that more Alaskans have a voice in our administration. We gave over 500 presentations on the fiscal situation. We held business roundtables and town halls and met with Alaskans in villages, towns and cities. More voices generate more ideas. More ideas form better solutions. We always say that Alaska’s greatest resource is her people. We have witnessed this truth time and time again by including, listening to and learning from Alaskans from every reach of the state.

We have never ceased to accept the responsibility entrusted to us when Alaskans elected us to take the helm. That responsibility requires decision-making not rooted in popularity but anchored in doing what is best for this generation and the next. With our oil revenues down by 80 percent, we introduced a complete fiscal plan to close the $4.3 billion fiscal gap. Overall spending has been reduced by 43 percent and the state workforce has been reduced by 3,000 employees. We will continue our focus on government efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

We simply will not compromise this state’s future by making unsustainable political promises and decisions in an election year. We will do the trench work. We are committed now more than ever to digging in to ensure that Alaska continues to provide for its citizens – and that state savings and the Permanent Fund Dividend last for generations, not an election cycle. Alaskans deserve resolution of our problems today to secure a robust economy for tomorrow. Pulling together, we can build a safer, smarter, stronger Alaska.

We will not rest until we know that we have done absolutely everything to make sure Alaska is set firmly on a course destined for prosperity. It is time to finish what we started, the job Alaskans sent us to do, and to always, always, keep Alaska first.

Bill Walker and Byron Mallott have filed for re-election as Alaska’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor running on and independent ticket.

More in Opinion

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Voices of the Peninsula: Get out there and Vote!

The League of Women Voters on the Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Votes created this voter guide for the mayoral election

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Capitol
Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

tt
Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

1
Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…