Governor Pleased with Session's Results in General
May 13, 2004
"I would commend the Legislature for its many successes over the past 121 days," Murkowski said. "Overall, this has been a very productive session, in which quite a lot of good legislation has been enacted, meeting the needs of Alaskans. We saw a willingness to work together in a bipartisan approach, which shows that we can get more done when we set aside partisan differences and hold out the best interests of all Alaskans as our standard.
"However, I was disappointed that the Senate left town without working out a compromise solution on the Permanent Fund endowment and the use of the income for education, dividends, and local communities," Murkowski said. "I was also disappointed in the House's failure to pass two important measures, specifically the tobacco tax and workers' compensation revisions."
Murkowski said legislators will now have the opportunity to return home and hear from their constituents about issues that were left unresolved. "People have a right to vote on a fiscal solution, just as they have an expectation that their representatives will vote on important issues. However, the process on some of the issues was thwarted by the power of special interests, to the detriment of the people. No positive result came from the recommendations of the Conference of Alaskans. In the Senate, they voted down the income tax, and the sales tax, and, while they brought up the use of the earnings reserve as a revenue source, no proposal to do so was put into legislation.
"While we have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on the endowment proposal and other high profile issues, the fact is that the Legislature passed a variety of excellent bills. In addition, individual legislators had many successes. So, overall, this session has been a very positive one."
The Governor cited a list of 26 bills introduced by the administration and passed by the Legislature, covering issues from education funding to oil and gas leasing, to senior care and the veterans' home, and from mining to new troopers and prosecutors.
"Consistent with our priorities, that is, public safety, transportation, public education, and natural resource development, we had good success," Murkowski said. "We passed a tough crime bill, increased education funding, improved the opportunity for rural teacher housing, in addition to numerous oil and gas and mining bills."
Source of News Release: