Updated: 4 hours ago Posted: 4 hours ago
The only way to rebuild Alaska is to make big strategic investments in workers who have been hammered by the pandemic, infrastructure that has been neglected for decades, and programs that will create a bright future for our state.
Recently, the Alaska Congressional delegation played a pivotal role in passing landmark legislation that advances toward all of these goals. Congressman Don Young, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan all deserve immense credit for their role in shaping the bipartisan infrastructure bill for the benefit of all Alaskans, with Senator Murkowski being one of the driving forces behind its adoption.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this bill. Some examples: we will receive $ 3.5 billion in federal funding for roads, $ 1 billion for essential ferry service to rural communities, $ 250 million for the construction of new ports, $ 73 million for construction of new ferries to Alaska, as the Alaska Sea Route system is now eligible for future federal highway funding for operation and repair, as well as significant investments in broadband access In a rural area.
Thousands of jobs will be created by federal investment in our roads, highways, ferries, ports and Internet connectivity systems, all of which will enable future economic growth.
Despite all of this good news that really makes great strides in opening Alaska for business, Governor Mike Dunleavy has been remarkably silent as this landmark bill progressed through the legislative process and even launched partisan attacks on it. the White House rather than advocating for more provisions that would help rebuild our state.
This fits a frustrating pattern where our governor has favored partisan submission to his base rather than prioritizing policies that will benefit Alaskans. Since Dunleavy took office, Alaska has lost jobs and people every year, and our economy is recovering from COVID-19 more slowly than almost any other state. Rather than working with the business community to ensure fiscal stability and keep the virus in check, Dunleavy has hampered vaccination efforts, costing Alaskan businesses tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
Additionally, Dunleavy stopped handing out a $ 300 per week bonus provided by the federal government to Alaskans to comply with partisan rhetoric that unemployment benefits were causing a labor shortage. His actions cost Alaskans thousands of dollars when they needed it most, kept millions of federal dollars from pumping into our economy, and failed to generate employment growth.
We need an administration that looks beyond politics and works with both local businesses and local governments, as well as our federal government, to support job creation and economic growth. One administration that recognizes the most important economic development strategy is to make Alaska a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We must attract and retain high income workers and their families by ensuring that we have good schools, safe streets, affordable housing and child care, short commutes and unprecedented recreational opportunities.
We are proud of our track record of creating career paths for Alaskans as governor and labor commissioner. Together, we have successfully awarded more than $ 20 million in competitive federal grants to stimulate workforce development, expanded recorded apprenticeship in Alaska, and hosted a summit of industry leaders, employers, union representatives and education and training partners at the forefront of major future projects. .
Alaska is uniquely positioned to grow and prosper. Between the federal dollars flowing into the state that encourages business development, our many and diverse natural resources, and the incredible growth opportunities ranging from tourism to mariculture, Alaska has limitless potential. With a governor and lieutenant governor focused on job growth rather than political talking points, we can reverse years of job losses and jumpstart Alaskan growth.
Bill walker was the 11th Governor of Alaska from 2014 to 2018. He lives in Anchorage with his wife, Donna. He is running for governor in 2022.
Heidi Dry gas was Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development under Governor Walker from 2014 to 2018. She lives in Juneau with her husband Kevin and daughter Olive. She is running for lieutenant governor in 2022.
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