This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.
Gov. Sarah Palin's clear focus on the state's energy and education needs shone through in her state-of-the-state message to the Legislature this week.
She pledges to increase school funding, marshal state support for an in-state gas pipeline, and try to get fractious, competing Railbelt utilities working together.
The governor is also beginning to talk about a long-range economic plan for the state, much to her credit.
Those were the most positive ideas in an address that covered a range of topics, and included some initiatives that are demonstrably off course.
Here's a rundown:
Gov.Palin's comments, while general, support a commitment she made in 2007 to a three-year-plan of state funding increases for schools, and particularly to add money for special education students. She also said, "we'll focus on early learning." That presumably follows through on a promise in December to back state-funded pre schools for about 500 children as a pilot program. We commend her for continuing the battle to strengthen our education system even while the economy falters.
Gov.Palin spoke of the importance of pursuing the big gas pipeline, but didn't outline important steps for this year. Curiously, she talked in the same breath about pursuing a road to Nome. Of all the ways to spend money in tight budget times, this one seems off the wall. Palin did say the state would facilitate construction of an instate gas pipeline with the goal of getting it built within five years. She promised a legislative proposal in February.
The governor also intends to propose some sort of joint utility corporation for railbelt utilities to help them all more effectively co-ordinate and fill energy needs.
We'll look forward to seeing details on state help for an instate gas line. And if the governor can get utilities working together, that would be a tremendous feat.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.