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Governor Marks First Year in Office


December 03, 2003
Wednesday - 1:00 am

Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski and First Lady Nancy Murkowski celebrated the Governor's first year in office with a half-hour "look-back" television show, broadcast Tuesday evening on public television.

The television show was taped Tuesday morning at the governor's residence in Juneau, just before the Governor left for Fairbanks to attend a memorial service for former First Lady Matilda Stepovich. The program highlighted the accomplishments and notable events of the first year in office, and looked forward to upcoming challenges.

"We thought the first anniversary of taking office would be a good opportunity to look back at the year past, and to give Alaskans a glimpse of what we will be working on through the upcoming legislative session," Murkowski said. "We appreciate that public TV has provided us the time on their stations."

In the television show, the Governor reviewed successful initiatives in economic development, such as working with the people of the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay area on oil and gas development. He also reviewed a trade mission to Asia and a stop by President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan in Anchorage, which brought Alaska producers together with Taiwanese businesses.

Murkowski highlighted his road-building initiative with a personal letter from a young woman from King Cove, who was born prematurely on board a fishing boat taking her mother to Cold Bay to get to the airport. There is no road from King Cove to Cold Bay because it would have to traverse a federal wildlife refuge. Murkowski has pledged to work with the federal government to get a road built there.

The Governor talked about state funding for education, one of his top priorities. So far, the Governor says he has been able to hold classroom funding harmless from budget cuts and is working with Secretary Rod Paige, who visited Alaska last summer, to help our schools meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Murkowski also acknowledged that his decision on the Longevity Bonus was one of the most difficult ones he has had to make. "In the end, the policy calls I made regarding the Longevity Bonus program came down to one of fairness," Murkowski said. "We had to take care of our neediest seniors first."

Murkowski also touched on his Alaska hire initiative, in which the administration is doing all it can to encourage businesses to pledge to have a minimum of 90 percent of their workforce be Alaska residents.

On health issues, the Governor noted, "We had a dramatic reduction in tobacco sales to minors," he said. "The survey shows nearly a 50 percent decrease in the number of high school students using tobacco, plus illegal sales of tobacco to minors has decreased from 30 percent to 10 percent."

The Governor also provided a preview of some of the issues he will bring to the Legislature in his State of the State address the second week in January. Those include an announcement concerning natural gas, a plan to assist seniors with prescription drugs, and crucial infrastructure projects.

Murkowski was sworn in as governor at noon on December 2, 2002.




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