Walker discusses taxes, public safety, gas line
Gov. Bill Walker on Thursday addressed the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during his annual luncheon gathering, highlighting his legislative priorities while shutting down any talk of a capital move.
Walker annually speaks to the Juneau Chamber, then often takes questions from the community’s business leaders.
He addressed a group that included mining, fishing and tourism representatives, plus small business owners and laborers.
Walker also touted progress the state’s efforts to market North Slope natural gas to Asian countries.
His team with the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. developed a plan to ship natural gas through an 800-mile pipeline from the North Slope to a liquefied natural gas facility in Cook Inlet for export.
Speaking to the current legislative session, Walker stressed his public safety plan.
For the upcoming operating budget, Walker wants an additional $34 million for public safety. That includes more than $5 million for more state troopers, prosecutors and public defenders.
“We need to get after this issue of public safety,” he said. “If Alaskans don’t feel safe, then you have to wonder what’s our priorities?”
Walker also hopes lawmakers will approve his income tax bill. He says the 1.5 percent tax will help fund capital projects statewide in coming years.
Since taking office four years ago, he’s had no luck getting legislative support on new taxes.
“Now is the time to do this,” Walker said. “The time to do this is during a down economy. We are in a recession. We think we hit the bottom. We think we are coming back out of it.”
Walker also fielded several questions. The first asked him for thoughts on annual efforts to move the capital outside of Juneau and on the road system.
No roads connect Juneau to the rest of the state, and select lawmakers from Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough filed legislation to pursue the relocation.
Earlier Walker discussed how oil industry CEOs recently traveled to Juneau on rather than Anchorage for meetings on the gas line.
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