No matter who has served as governor — Republican, Democrat or Independent — the start of a new administration is like embarking on a new frontier.

For Gov. Bill Walker, who has now served as Alaska governor for eight months, breaking ground hasn’t been easy. The state’s record $4-billion budget gap made for a turbulent session — as well as a huge philosophical divide between Walker and Republican Majority leaders on how best to develop the state’s natural gas. There was also the battle over Medicaid, a federal program the governor eventually expanded without legislative approval.

With another multibillion-dollar deficit in the forecast, the fiscal headwinds are not likely to subside next session. New taxes or other sources of revenue, such as earnings from the Permanent Fund, may be on the table.

This week on Frontiers, we look at the challenges Walker has faced thus far, as well as those that lie ahead.

Some of the highlights of this week’s program:

    • Since January, KTVA’s Rhonda McBride has sat down several times with Walker to talk about a variety of issues, such as the budget, Medicaid expansion and how his life experiences have shaped his leadership style.
    • Two longtime Alaska political observers, Tim Bradner and Christopher Clark, provide analysis about the Walker administration’s performance thus far. Bradner is the natural resources reporter at the Alaska Journal of Commerce. Clark is a former journalist and legislative aide, who also served in Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration.
    • A look at results from a recent Ivan Moore poll, tracking the governor’s popularity. Moore has conducted a poll on Walker every three months since June of last year and says Walker’s favorable rating has doubled since then.

 

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