JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy told lawmakers late Monday he wants to make the state “the most pro-life state in the country.” He said policies should support families and make Alaska an affordable, desirable place to live.
“Kids are a blessing and they shouldn’t be viewed as a burden,” the Republican said in his first State of the State speech of his second term. He noted inflation, housing, food and energy costs, which he said “make people think twice about growing their family or even starting one.”
Dunleavy proposed reducing the cost of living, addressing health care options and creating jobs with wages that can support families. He also wants to change the course of Alaska’s history with initiatives such as legislation aimed at crime and public health, and efforts to promote the state as a “resource powerhouse.”
The speech touched on familiar themes for Dunleavy, such as fighting federal actions seen as slowing energy development projects. He also touted successes of his first term, including a payment of $3,284 to residents last fall.
The Senate majority has expressed interest in addressing education funding and teacher retention issues. Dunleavy sounded an upbeat tone and said he was optimistic about the start of the new session. He talked about efforts to improve food security and his proposal to monetize carbon.
Members of the Senate majority described the speech as positive. Stevens said he has seen a change in Dunleavy and believes the Senate can find common ground with him.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, said he appreciated Dunleavy’s comments about supporting families but hoped part of such efforts would include measures to address affordable housing and child care, food stamp benefits and K-12 funding.
House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage said his caucus is “encouraged” by Dunleavy’s focus on making Alaska a great place to raise a family. He said adding money for schools, addressing pensions for teachers and public safety officers, and increasing investments in maternal and children’s health are ways to do that.
Before Dunleavy’s speech, there was a rally in support of education funding outside the Capitol.