First of all I want to take this opportunity to thank Peninsula voters for having the faith in me that has allowed me to represent you for the past 12 years. It is indeed a privilege which I do not take lightly. All the issues I have listed were also included in my response for the August primary election.
My first priority this session is to get an in-state gasline moving forward. I was greatly disappointed that the Senate did not take any action on a bill Representative Hawker and I sponsored last session, House Bill 9. I am very appreciative of the work done by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to get a gasline project in order that they may conduct an open season. However, without the tools provided within House Bill 9, any hope of a project becoming reality within the next 4 to 5 years lessens. It is my intention to work with the many co-sponsors of the bill and reintroduce legislation similar to the bill killed by the Senate. An in-state gasline will provide needed jobs and secure an energy source well into our future.
Education has always been a high priority of mine. I want to ensure that we invest wisely in our children and educational system. Although I am supportive of an increase in foundation formula funding, the Legislature needs accountability that we are getting the biggest bang for our buck. I am very proud of what our school district has accomplished and I can truthfully say, I am satisfied with the educational system we now have.
I am also concerned about the fishing disaster experienced on the Peninsula this summer. I do not know what action we can take at this point, however, we need to find the reasons why the king run did not develop as expected. Some of the reasons may be beyond our control but there may be remedies that can be addressed by the legislature this upcoming session. I want to hear first from our fisheries managers before deciding on a course of action.
I am a firm believer in providing infrastructure for our communities and the borough. I have been able to secure funding for borough and state roads, improvements for our community needs, and for fire stations and equipment that guarantee our safety. I will continue to fight for capital dollars that improve our quality of life on the Peninsula.
This doesn’t mean I support spending every dollar the state takes in. It is time we begin evaluating our operating budget and see where we can reduce spending. I introduced House Bill 166 which would require an audit on each department over a ten year span. The audit is not only to assess how dollars are being spent but also to gauge the performance of our state agencies. Again, this is a bill that unanimously passed the House but was not even heard in the Senate. This bill will be another priority for me this session.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide a few comments. I look forward to representing the Peninsula and our state.