Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s second year at Alaska’s helm was utterly preoccupied with COVID-19. His ruminations on what he’s accomplished in 2020 reflect this.

Dunleavy speaks
Gov. Mike Dunleavy

The governor’s Dec. 7 statement about his 2020 accomplishments opens by saying he hopes to get “Alaska back on the right track so we can provide our children and grandchildren greater opportunities and bright futures…”

In noting the extraordinary challenges of the past year, Dunleavy said Alaskans exhibited “tremendous resiliency, courage, and demonstrated what it means to put service above self.”

He did not mention the many heated controversies that have riled much of Alaska in the past year, namely COVID-driven economic and cultural shutdowns in Anchorage and other cities, or the protests and rallies that have divided many communities along political and cultural lines.

Dunleavy’s statement was dominated by references to state and federal spending to address COVID concerns, but he did mention that he still aims to “fulfill the promises I made to you when I ran for governor.” This includes fighting for the PFD, getting state spending under control, stabilizing the economy, and addressing the state’s fiscal crisis.

It remains to be seen whether these goals will be achievable with Republicans clinging to a razor thin 21-19 majority in the State House.

In reviewing his achievements, the governor highlighted the state’s successful COVID testing programs, low COVID mortality rates and expanded telemedicine business registrations. He also pointed out that he suspended hundreds of regulations to help struggling Alaska businesses while distributing hundreds of millions in federal coronavirus relief funds.

In dealing with crime, Dunleavy said Alaska graduated the highest number of State Trooper recruits “in recent history,” and he distributed nearly $22 million in grants for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs.

The governor reminded Alaskans that he delivered an early PFD to help residents deal with an economy devastated by COVID closures, and distributed nearly a billion dollars in federal wage replacement funds. He spoke of his expanding unemployment insurance coverage options as well as mortgage relief packages for Alaskans impacted economically by COVID.

Dunleavy said his education achievements include awarding grants to protect student mental health and launching a new statewide distance education tool for students and teachers.

On the fiscal front, he pointed to his $280 million dollar reduction in state budget spending and his support of federal decisions that “positively impacted jobs” in the Tongass National Forest, ANWR, NPR-A, and the Ambler Mining District.

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Governor reflects on a year dominated by COVID fallout

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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