Gov. Bill Walker speaks to the members of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the Hangar Ballroom on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Gov. Bill Walker speaks to the members of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the Hangar Ballroom on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Governor talks PFD and Juneau Access to Chamber of Commerce

Gov. Bill Walker said Thursday that he doesn’t know if canceling the Juneau Access Project was the right decision, but it was the best decision based on the information he had.

Walker spoke Thursday to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

“I didn’t run for governor to cut the dividend. I didn’t run for governor to say we need to stop three megaprojects,” he said.

“I ran for governor to build Alaska, but you lose 90 percent of your income …,” he said before trailing off momentarily.

Walker made no major policy announcements Thursday but spoke about two significant decisions in the past year: his decision to veto half the Permanent Fund Dividend, and his decision to cancel the road north from Juneau.

“I don’t apologize for it, but I say that in this job, there’s no manual that comes with this particular position,” Walker said of the PFD veto. “I stand behind it and I suffer the consequences occasionally as I meet folks.”

He said he has also heard from Alaskans who are feeling the effects of budget cuts.

He shared that he once had a conversation with someone who said the budget needs to be cut still more, cut until it hurts.

“Hurts who?” Walker asked. “I’ll give you the names and numbers of the people who are calling me and telling me about the programs and people that are hurting.”

Walker said he is hopeful that the Legislature will address the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit this year.

Walker said his process of dealing with the budget has felt at times like bungee-jumping.

“You don’t know when you’ve reached the bottom until you start going up again,” he said. “I gotta tell you, I still don’t have that feeling again.”


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or 419-7732.


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