Governor Dunleavy Announces Alaska Economic Stabilization Team
Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks during a COVID-19 press conference.
Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the creation of the Alaska Economic Stabilization Team (AEST). The bipartisan group of leaders will work with the Dunleavy administration on a plan to protect the state’s economy from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Alaska. The group will be led by former Governor Sean Parnell and former US Senator Mark Begich. The remaining seats will be filled by a cross section of Alaska’s economic leaders and former elected officials.
“The coronavirus disease is exacerbating Alaska’s existing economic challenges and is unfortunately creating new ones,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The Alaska Economic Stabilization Team brings together some of our state’s most experienced leaders in economics, business, and public policy to assess the challenges and recommend decisive policies to protect jobs, hardworking families, and the overall economy.”
“In times like these, Alaskans come together to fight for our state and our future,” said Parnell. “Former US Senator Begich and I are ‘all in’ for Alaska and I pledge to work together with him and others to bring more stability and certainty for Alaskans in the days and months ahead.”
“As political rivals who have publicly disagreed on issues, the easy answer when Governor Dunleavy asked for my participation would have been no, but we are facing a global crisis and I believe we all must do our part to protect Alaska’s families, communities, and economy,” Begich said. “There is already so much uncertainty and strain placed on our businesses—both big and small—we can’t afford for partisanship to prevent us from finding a path forward. Those who have worked with me know that I am not afraid of tough conversations so Alaska businesses can feel confident that I will work to make their needs and voices heard.”
AEST will work with the Office of the Governor and the State of Alaska Unified Command Structure to streamline and expedite a comprehensive response to the pandemic. This team will also provide regular updates to legislative leaders in implementing actions that minimize the adverse economic impacts of COVID-19. The team will also engage with Alaska’s federal delegation, state and local governments, and businesses covering the entire spectrum of industries engaged in Alaska.
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On January 16, a fire destroyed the water plant and washeteria in the southwest Alaska village of Tuluksak. For the village of about 350 people, it was a devastating blow. The water plant was the only source of drinking water in the village, in which the primarily Yup’ik residents lack indoor plumbing and rely on honey buckets, not uncommon in the flat, swampy region.