JUNEAU (AP) -- Gubernatorial candidate Frank Murkowski wants more resource extraction to stabilize the state's economy and he wants a road out of Juneau.
Murkowski, who has served 21 years as a Republican in the U.S. Senate for Alaska, has been a vocal proponent for a thus-far failed bid to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
In a recent visit to Juneau, Murkowski said ANWR and other mining projects would add stability to Alaska's shaky fiscal future.
''This state is a resource state, and we've spent too much time and attention focused away from the development of our resources.'' Murkowski said during an interview with the Juneau Empire.
State leaders should also do more to encourage mining, fishing and timber industries, Murkowski said.
''We've relied too much on federal spending in the state,'' Murkowski said.
Murkowski announced earlier this year he would seek the GOP bid for governor next year. Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, who also announced her candidacy earlier this year, is seeking the Democratic candidacy for governor. Both are seen as front-runners for their parties.
Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, is ending his second term and cannot seek a third under the state's term limit laws.
Murkowski said more revenues are needed but would not commit to specifics of what he would favor, saying ''I'm not getting into the issue of what I would do.''
A Department of Revenue forecast predicts a $906.3 million deficit in the state budget this year that will grow to $1.1 billion in the next fiscal year. The deficits threaten to deplete a $2 billion reserve account by 2004.
Knowles budget proposed spending at least $179 million more next year.
Murkowski said it is unclear what the Legislature will do before the election in 2002. But he said he would explore ways to make nonresident workers contribute to state revenues.
With the anticipated budget crunch, Murkowski said Alaska can't afford to move its capital from Juneau to the Matanuska Susitna Borough. A ballot initiative proposes such a move for the Legislature.
But he said that Juneau needs a direct connection to the highway system. Juneau leaders are studying a plan make the town accessible by road.
''I think most people expect the state capital to have access,'' he said.
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