Governor prepares for State of the State speech
JUNEAU – Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell put the finishing touches on his State of the State speech Wednesday morning, meeting with staffers to make the final edits.
This is his fifth speech. The first was delivered in 2010 — six months after Sarah Palin resigned — marking his move from lieutenant governor to chief of state. The main goal that year: to reassure the Legislature that a smooth transition had taken place between his administration and Palin’s.
Also in 2010, Parnell said he drew inspiration from a State of the State speech crafted by Gov. Bill Egan, which focused on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
“I wanted to have that historical context,” Parnell said.
It continues to be an important theme.
“It’s important to future generations that they be able to read and put into context the times,” he said. “That’s something I had not fully appreciated until I started putting this together.”
And the times are contentious. Parnell is facing re-election and the state is facing a $2 billion revenue shortfall, a downsized budget and a battle over education funding, one of the main topics of tonight’s speech.
“It’s never enough, according to some, and you are seeing that playing out now in the (Anchorage School) District, as teachers are being threatened with layoffs,” Parnell said.
Parnell said the natural gas line legislation and the budget are the other main topics for tonight.
He said he used to have a laundry list of issues to address.
“You try to put everything in there so everybody gets a little touch of something,” Parnell said.
Now, he prefers to focus on just a few topics, because he believes it helps the Legislature better understand his expectations for the session.
Lawmakers are hoping to hear more about the governor’s plans for the state to invest in a natural gas pipeline, as well as his recent announcement that he’s made headway with producers on a natural gas project.