To keep the state of our state strong, let us choose a future of public sector restraint and private sector growth. Let us come together to set a spending cap early this session, because limited government requires firm limits. Let us come together to support hard working Alaskans and Alaska businesses.
In recent years, Uncle Sam's growing reach has cast a shadow over the dreams of Alaska's entrepreneurs. While we in this chamber cannot unilaterally fix Washington's mistakes, we can act to minimize the damage.By reforming our unemployment tax law, we can reduce the tax burden on Alaskans and their employers. Last year, the State took an additional $20 million in unemployment insurance contributions, even though our unemployment insurance fund was solvent without that increase.
It makes no sense for Alaskans and their businesses to be overtaxed, so government can be overfunded.
Tonight, I propose creating a formula to determine whether the unemployment insurance fund is solvent. If the fund has enough money, we will cut unemployment taxes, because it's time we cut a break for hardworking Alaskans and Alaska businesses.
Let us also come together to stop federal overreach. When a federal agency tramples on what is our right, we will not roll over; we will not lie down. We will stand up for what is right.
We recently won a major victory when a federal court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had overstepped its bounds by declaring a huge swath of our land critical habitat for polar bears, without properly following the laws.
As Alaskans, we regularly experience the disconnect between federal flights of fancy and on-the-ground realities.
Well, here's the reality: Washington, D.C. just doesn't get Alaska - never has, never will.
Federal law says that states have the right to regulate activities regarding their own lands and waters - and it's about time Alaskans exercise these rights over our resources.
So tonight, I urge you to pass legislation giving our State authority to seek and assume primacy over dredge and fill operations within our borders. By assuming primacy, the people of Alaska will have a greater say over their lands and waters.
The future of Alaska belongs to Alaskans - not to Washington, D.C.
ALASKA'S FUTURE: STRONG AND FREE
Tonight, I have outlined the challenges and priorities that will define this session. By working together, we can leave our children the future they deserve - a future of greater safety, higher achieving schools, growing oil production, more affordable energy, vibrant economic growth, and brighter opportunity.
As you debate these proposals in the legislative branch, remember that you have a partner in the executive branch. From public servants deep within our agencies to the well-known Cabinet members here with us tonight, we have State employees standing up for Alaskans, standing up against federal encroachment, and standing up for the values that make Alaska special.
Among the 50 stars on the American flag, Alaska's has always stood for a place high above the rest.
It is the star that guided our first people and early pioneers. It is the star that rises in our time, even when troubled global markets dip and fall. And it is the star that, we here tonight, vow to keep burning and bright for future generations.
That is the task before us. Let us answer history's call. Let us confront challenges that must be met. And let us work together in a spirit worthy of our fellow Alaskans.
If we stay true to our values - the values that veterans like Rod Bain defended in distant lands - then the state of our state will always be as it should be: Strong and free.
May God bless you, and may God bless Alaska. Thank you, and good night."