Democratic Leaders Offer Strong Vision for Alaska
Fair share, education and energy priorities for Democratic Legislators
in State of the State response
JUNEAU – Tonight, Senate Democratic Leader Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) and House Democratic Leader Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau) presented a strong vision for Alaska in their response to the governor’s state of the state speech. The two leaders said making a commitment to education, lowering the cost of energy, and standing up for Alaska’s fair return on its resources are the Democratic caucuses’ priorities.
“As Alaskan Democrats we stand for economic development that brings jobs, security, and family stability to Alaska. Education that gives our children a future. Affordable energy, so we can all afford to stay in this great state,” said Kerttula.
Kerttula contrasted Democratic action on education and energy with the governor’s inaction.
“Investing in education is the ultimate investment, not the ultimate giveaway as the governor called it last year. Our goal is to make Alaska’s schools competitive,” said Kerttula. “The governor wants to require more from our students and less of the oil companies. If he wants a ninety percent graduation rate, he needs to listen to the teachers and give them the resources they need.”
Kerttula criticized the governor for not undercutting successful energy efforts like the home weatherization program and renewable energy projects. She called for a true energy plan for Alaska, with criteria to prioritize and coordinate projects.
“The governor has not led on energy, so we will,” said Kerttula.
Ellis focused on the need for Alaskans to stand up against the governor’s latest oil tax giveaway bill. He called the proposal “an even bigger giveaway” than the governor’s past bills.
“That means that when the Big 3 oil companies are making record profits from high energy prices, Alaska may be laying off teachers and firefighters while outside shareholders are rewarded with billions in profit from our oil,” said Ellis. “If politicians give away 2 billion dollars a year of your money, the money we use to build roads and keep our streets safe, who do you think they will ask to pick up the tab?”
Both Ellis and Kerttula outlined Democratic efforts to address education, energy and oil production. Kerttula emphasized bills to prevent inflation from forcing cuts to Alaska’s classrooms and continuing support for successful energy projects and programs. Ellis emphasized oil production incentives for companies that drill here in Alaska and increase oil production.
“Alaska’s Democratic Legislators want to get more oil in the pipeline, but we will never sell out Alaskans to Outside interests,” said Ellis.