Governor warns that inaction won’t solve fiscal problems

Walker: ‘Compromise is not capitulation. Rather, it is a necessary process in representative government’

Gov. Bill Walker delivers his fourth State of the State address in Juneau. Photo courtesy of the governor’s office
January, 2018 photo. Gov. Bill Walker delivers his fourth State of the State address in Juneau. (Photo courtesy of the governor’s office)

Gov. Bill Walker spoke of a safer, smarter, stronger Alaska on Jan. 18, saying that legislators need to make it happen by passing his budget for fiscal year 2019.

“The worst decision we can make at this time is no decision, Walker said during his State of the State address in legislative chambers in Juneau. “Our fiscal problems will not be solved through inaction.”

The governor, a Republican turned Independent who is running for re-election, said that while some seasoned politicians have said nothing can be accomplished this session due to upcoming elections, that he could not disagree more.

“I’m not suggesting that anyone stop fighting for what they believe in,” he said. “But at the end of the day, following the good fight, we have to be committed to the greater good. Compromise is not capitulation. Rather, it is a necessary process in representative government.”

And he noted that the California Legislature was late passing its budget 25 out of 30 years, until citizens got fed up with politics and voted to stop legislators’ pay if the budget wasn’t passed on time.  Since then, with one exception, the California budget has passed on time each year,” he said.

Walker’s speech was peppered with a cross-section of optimism in certain areas of the economy and challenges ranging from the current recession to Alaska having the highest unemployment in the nation.


Alaska is welcoming a record-breaking number of tourists and winter tourism continues to grow, he said.  “We have world-class fisheries and are promoting new opportunities such as kelp and shellfish production. We will continue to prioritize healthy salmon habitats that benefit all users,” he said.

Walker also spoke with optimism about prospects for a natural gas pipeline, the oil, mining and timber industries, and reiterated his message about diversifying the state’s economic portfolio.

And he said he understood the economic struggles of fellow Alaskans, having experience that himself.

He was a small boy in Delta when his father was hospitalized by a forklift accident, and his mother was left to care for four small children in a home with no running water or electricity.  Another family took them in and the two families became lifelong friends. “I have known what it is to have plenty, and I have known what it is to have practically nothing,’ he said.

Just as his family had to face its challenges with courage and determination, the state must conserve its resources, be creative and pull together for the good of the family, he said.

And it is important to the state’s future that Alaskans feel safe and secure, he said, noting that his proposed fiscal year 2019 budget adds $34 million for public safety, including dealing with an opioid crisis that has devastated so many communities.

To that end the state has increased use of drug dogs, who have confiscated thousands of grams of illicit drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug currency. “One of our drug dogs, Mocha, is featured in an ad in the Seattle airport,” Walker said. “Beneath Mocha’s smiling photo, it warns “if you are bringing drugs to Alaska, I look forward to meeting you.”

But the big message from the governor was to get that budget passed.

“If we don’t pass a budget on schedule, the fishing industry openers are interrupted, the Alaska Marine Highway System can’t publish a schedule, teachers get pink slips and our entire economy is held back by this annual uncertainty,” he said. “Any system that cannot deliver a budget within 90 legislative days is broken, and anyone who can’t see that, or who refuses to address it, is complicit in that failure.”

Read Walker’s entire speech online at