The Governor’s State of The State Address is next week (7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 25). It is sure to contain grievances about the Federal Government, excitement about mineral resource development projects in Alaska, and a dash of “Election Integrity” talk. It will maybe/probably contain a few lines about renewable energy, fisheries, Alaska’s strategic economic and military location, and “greatest resource is the people of AK” platitudes, etc., to put a bow on it.
It is becoming clear through various releases of information that the Governor is actively lying about his role in the firing of the Permanent Fund E.D. and that the firing was political retribution as Ms. Rodell did not grant the Governor’s cherished overdraw of the Permanent Fund earnings reserve money - we expect that this will not be a part of the State of the State, and hey, it might cause the Gov. to not throw jabs during the speech at the Legislature on the issue of the big PFD never being approved by lawmakers.
With the new Ranked Choice Voting law in place, the Governor is free to pick a suitable running mate and facing at least two known challenges from the far-right flank in his bid for Re-election. Dunleavy made the choice to dump Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer from the ticket despite his faithful dealings with this evolving fiasco of an administration. There is a slight, outside, chance that the Governor will say some nice things about the Lt. Governor, but we would not hold our breath. After all, the Lt. Gov has defended the 2020 election in Alaska, which the far-right know with great certainty was “stolen.”
State Medical officer Dr. Anne Zink, also ever faithful in her dealings with the Dunleavy Administration, is under attack by supporters of Dunleavy and his challenger, political nobody Rep. Chris Kurka who has the firing of Dr. Zink as part of his campaign platform. If the Governor wanted to appear that he has a backbone, he would go strong in defense of Dr. Zink in his speech. To date, his defense has been very muted and wimpy as her credibility is attacked and she is personally threatened.
While he is defending Alaskans from attack by other Alaskans (seemingly something a Governor should do), he might include in his speech an apology to the former Assistant Attorney General, Elizabeth Bakalar. She was targeted with toxic animus and threats of all varieties from far-right Dunleavy supporters after she took legal action against her illegal firing by Dunleavy. Bakalar won on most grounds in federal court this past week. The state will be on the hook for damages. The action by the administration was wrong and will cost the state. Now that the case is settled, it is time to clear the air and address the cost to the state and (former) state workers like Bakalar in the State of the State.
Federal spending on Infrastructure will cushion the reality of our state’s structural budget deficit. Federal COVID relief has and will continue to protect vulnerable Alaskans and help prop up the economy. We hope the Governor does not adopt a posture of holding his hand out while flipping the bird to the Feds with his other hand. However, this is likely, since this particular brand of complaint has been refined and reworked in speeches since statehood and before.
We anticipate that there will be few surprises and many missed opportunities in Tuesday night’s address. We remain open to the possibility of shock, reflection, reconciliation, and rejuvenation. Wouldn’t that be something?
The Alaska Center Team
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