New Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy vowed to crack down on crime and restore the full Permanent Fund Dividend during his first press conference in Juneau as governor on Tuesday.
Surrounded by his new cabinet members, Dunleavy outlined his administration’s priorities, chief among them repealing the controversial criminal justice measure known as Senate Bill 91.
In SB 91’s place, Dunleavy plans to roll out a “serious package on public safety.” He said, criminals would be on the run, not law-abiding citizens.
SB 91, enacted in law in 2016, strived to lower recidivism rates, but instead outraged many Alaskans who blamed the law for increasing crime rates while decreasing penalties for criminals.
Dunleavy on Tuesday said he and his administration will make penalties tougher for those criminals who sell drugs to others, especially those who prey on more vulnerable groups such as women and children.
Dunleavy said that his team is working to restore the Permanent Fund Dividend in its entirety.
“The PFD is not an appropriation, it’s a transfer,” Dunleavy said.
He added that this goes for the so-called “payback” PFD too. This payback PFD refers to his plan to get Alaskans the dividend money they missed out on in 2018 and 2017 due to the state using a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to fund the state operating budget.
Dunleavy promised that his cabinet would work to produce a sustainable budget in which expenditures match revenues. He said he has already tasked each of his commissioners to rid their departments of archaic, ineffective practices and unwanted services to achieve that goal. He also promised his administration would be more transparent about budget numbers than past governors.
The administration is also evaluating regulations to see which ones could be cut.
“We have certain regulations getting in the way of Alaskans living their lives,” Dunleavy said.
Dunleavy described his new cabinet members as a “fantastic team” and a “cross section of Alaskans.”
Although Dunleavy’s team is new, many of them are recognizable faces from Alaska politics and industry.
Former Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock is now chief of staff. John McKinnon, who was head of the Associated Contractors of Alaska is now the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner. Amy Demboski, the former Anchorage Assembly member, is deputy chief of staff. Nancy Dahlstrom, commissioner of Department of Corrections, is a former representative from Eagle River. Attorney General Kevin Clarkson is a former Anchorage attorney.
The full cabinet also include commissioners: John Quick, Department of Administration; Doug Vincent-Lang, Department of Fish and Game; Julie Anderson Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development; Nancy Dahlstrom, Department of Corrections; Michael Johnson, Department of Education and Early Devepment; Jason Brune, Department of Environmental Conservation; Adam Crum, Health and Social Services, Tamika Ledbetter Labor and Workforce Development; Brig. Gen. Torrence Saxe, Military and Veterans Affairs; Corri Feige, Natural Resources; Amanda Price, Public Safety; Bruce Tangeman, Revenue. Donna Arduin heads the Office of Management and Budget.
Contact staff writer Kevin Baird at 523-2258.