By Dave Donaldson
In a low-key address to the state House and Senate Wednesday night, Governor Parnell called for unity among Alaskans – and set his goal in terms he had referred to during his run for the office last year.
In his state of the state speech lasting less than a half hour, the Governor focused on the accomplishments he had working with last year’s legislature – like college scholarships and beginning to stand up to domestic violence. He also continued his fight against the federal government. He said Alaska has kept its promises made at the time of statehood, but that effort hasn’t been met at the national level.
The federal government owns 240-million acres. Almost two-thirds of Alaska’s 371-million acres. And Uncle Sam has posted a virtual “Keep Out” sign on those lands. This is contrary to the federal government’s promise made not so long ago that Alaska’s resources would be available to economically support the people of this great land. Congress did not want Alaska to become a ward of the federal government. And neither did we.
Parnell said other states have had the time to define their relationship with the federal government – but Alaska is not getting a response in trying to come to terms with statehood. He demanded that the State not be treated as a Colony.
When persuasion fails, litigation prevails. Litigation is never out first choice. We prefer to coordinate rather than to litigate, to persuade rather than pay attorneys. But when pressed, we will take every lawful measure to protect Alaska’s sovereignty and our right to develop our own resources.
Parnell briefly mentioned the importance of the legislative package he has so far promoted for the session – oil, energy and mining – saying it’s the state’s job to foster development and resource development.
Let’s keep taxes low, let’s gain access to our resources, let’s invest in Alaska’s energy and strategically expand undeveloped resources. That’s why this year, I’m asking that we work together to lower taxes on oil and to create more jobs in Alaska. Let’s build off the success of last year’s head tax reduction. Let’s pass legislation to make our oil tax regime more globally competitive. Lower taxes leads to more resource development and that leads to more jobs for Alaskans.
Parnell will have a long way to go to draw success from the speech – particularly the lower taxes he has called for. For example, legislation he has reducing oil taxes has met strong opposition – particularly in the Senate, where members say they do not see a reason for lower taxes.