Democrats: Today’s Resources Build Tomorrow’s Opportunity; Democratic Response to the State of the State shows vision for Alaska

House Democratic Caucus
PRESS RELEASE • January 18, 2012

Contact: Mark Gnadt, Press Secretary •
http://www.akhouse.orgPhone: 465-3842 • Fax: 465-4748
Rep. Beth Kerttula, Minority Leader • Rep. Berta Gardner, Minority Whip
Democrats: Today’s Resources Build Tomorrow’s Opportunity
Democratic Response to the State of the State shows vision for Alaska
JUNEAU – In her response to the governor’s state of the state speech tonight, House Democratic Leader Beth Kerttula (Juneau) told Alaskans that Alaska must use today’s resources to build tomorrow’s future.
“You’ve elected us to lead, and it’s our job to lead in a way that honors Alaska’s courageous spirit by using today’s resources to build tomorrow’s opportunities,” said Rep. Kerttula.
The speech outlined three keys to ensuring a bright future for Alaska: creating jobs, ensuring Alaskans have access to quality education, and getting Alaska a fair return for its resources.
“Getting the resources out of the ground is only half of what it means to be a resource state,” said Rep. Kerttula. “The opportunities we create from our resources are what define our success.”
Rep. Kerttula drew a contrast between the Democrats’ vision for improving education in Alaska and the governor’s mention of it in his speech.
“The governor put education sixth on his list,” said Rep. Kerttula. “We hold it much higher.”
To reinforce the Democratic caucus’ vision, Rep. Kerttula highlighted specific legislation her caucus has offered on the topics of education, jobs and ensuring Alaskans know what they are buying with the billions of dollars the state is already investing on oil and gas development through tax credits.
“Alaskans are the biggest single investor on the North Slope,” said Rep. Kerttula. “We should know what we’re buying for the billions of dollars we’re already investing.”
Rep. Kerttula also emphasized the need to save, and said that putting surplus revenue into the Permanent Fund is the best way to turn oil, a non-renewable resource, into a renewable resource for Alaska.
The text of her speech is available below.

Rep. Kerttula, State of the State response 1-18-2012

Good evening. Thank you for tuning in tonight.  I’m Beth Kerttula, and I am proud to be the House Democratic Leader.  I have the honor to present our view of the state of the state and our shared future.

I had the good fortune to be raised here in Alaska.  My grandfather first came here almost 100 years ago &, much like the fuel ship last week, was trapped by the ice in Nome.  The winter he spent there was made shorter by the strong, resourceful people he met – whose families remain friends of mine to this very day.  I thought of my grandfather as I watched the Russian tanker slowly make its way up the coast to deliver desperately needed fuel to our ice blocked northern port. 

Alaskans still have the same courageous spirit—we don’t just live through hardship, we conquer it, like those in Nome, Cordova or Valdez are doing this very evening.

You’ve elected us to lead, and it’s our job to lead in a way that honors Alaska’s courageous spirit by using today’s resources to build tomorrow’s opportunities.

Tonight, I want to talk about three things: JOBS, EDUCATION, and GETTING OUR FAIR SHARE for our resources.

Let’s talk about JOBS:

Despite the national economy, Alaska is doing pretty well.

There are more oil and gas jobs in Alaska today than since TAPS was completed.

We’re experiencing a North Slope and Cook Inlet exploration boom.

New areas are opening up for resource development.

Getting a fair return on these resources has made us the wealthiest state in the nation, but getting the resources out of the ground is only half of what is means to be a resource state.

The opportunities we create from our resources are what will define our success.

To turn today’s resources into tomorrow’s jobs, we must:

Save money.

We have proposals to put billions of our surplus into the Permanent Fund and out of the reach of those who might rush to spend it.

Invest wisely in 21st century energy and infrastructure.

That includes broadband internet and renewable energy.

Now is the time to move Alaska forward.

The best way to open doors for Alaskans and to assure them good jobs is through quality education and job training. 

Education and job training are the keys to opportunity, and I’m excited about the innovative ways our caucus is helping Alaskans from their preschool years until they join the workforce.

Rep. Tuck has legislation to help parents get involved in their children’s education early on so their children can get ahead and stay ahead when they get to school.

Rep. Petersen has legislation to ensure our school-age children don’t bear the burden of inflation with cuts in the classroom.

And a number of us, led by Rep. Les Gara, sponsored a bill to lower the cost of college and job training for Alaskans who put their new skills to work in Alaska.

There’s no better investment than investing in Alaskans. And there’s no better time to do it than now.

The key to making all this happen is getting our fair share of our resource wealth.

Almost every Alaskan has either family or close friends Outside.  We hear every day about the recession the Lower 48 is in.  If we want to join the rest of the country in this terrible recession, accepting less than our fair share of the returns from our resources is the way to do it.

We’ve all heard the debate over the governor’s proposal to give away billions of dollars in Alaska’s oil wealth.

Outside interests have a long history of trying to exploit Alaska’s resources, whether it is fur, fish, copper or oil.

Our state was founded to make sure Alaskans could stand up to these Outside interests and get our fair share of the wealth Outsiders were taking from our state.

It is this courage and leadership to stand up for Alaska that built our state.

As the current oil tax debate continues, Democrats will continue to stand up against any attempt to give away our resources.

Alaska is already investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the oil industry each year in oil tax credits—over 3 billion dollars in the last four years.

Through these credits, Alaskans are the biggest single investor on the North Slope, and we need to be able to see what a company has done to earn its credits.

It’s amazing we haven’t done this already, but Representative Gardner has introduced legislation to allow Alaskans to see three things:

  1. descriptions of what a company is doing to earn its oil tax credits,
  2. how many jobs it’s creating, and
  3. how many of those jobs are going to Alaskans.

We should know what we’re buying for the billions of dollars we’re already investing.

We live in a great state, with many opportunities to secure an even brighter future. I am looking forward to a successful legislative session.  My caucus and I stand ready to work with Alaskans across the aisle and across the state to

  • create good jobs,
  • a strong education system, and
  • a healthy economy for ALL Alaskans. 

Thank you for listening tonight.  I welcome your comments, your thoughts, and your hopes for us all.

Good night.

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