How can our newly elected governor deobligate $20 million for education and $3 million for the vital Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) programs? What happened to the “man who chose education as a career, because I love helping kids and I love learning and teaching”? Those words are quoted from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address last week. What happened to that man? He also declared a “war on criminals.” How can you declare a war on criminals and then defund the first line of defense in remote communities?
“We all feel a deep sense of gratitude to the men and women who served as emergency responders. They are Alaska heroes. There were countless examples of Alaskans who made us proud … School teachers kept kids safe and evacuated them from unsafe buildings … Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what Alaska is all about,” Dunleavy said in his address.
So what about Alaska’s heroes, Gov. Dunleavy? What happened to neighbors helping neighbors? Isn’t that what Alaska is all about? “Our children and grandchildren deserve better,” Dunleavy also said.
If any legislator has children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, you owe it to your descendants and the future of Alaska to fully fund education and make Alaska the highest performing state in the nation. Excellent schools create strong communities, which reduce the numbers of suicides, prevent school shootings and reduce violence and crime. Schools create citizens, business people and leaders. They instill principles and character into people who will in turn grow up to become great Alaskans. They will become great Alaskans who will fight for our great state.
Finally to quote our governor again, “And when it comes to sexual assault, Alaska stands alone. Our sexual assault rate is the highest in the nation … Anchorage, which has 132 sexual assaults per 100,000 people. That’s almost five times that of New York City. Let that sink in … This is an outrage. Plain and simple. The women and children of Alaska, must be made safe, and we have an obligation, all of us in this room, to do everything we possibly can to stop this scourge in Alaska.”
Governor, to pull funding from education and the VPSO is an outrage. We must do everything we possibly can so I am calling you and your administration out and holding you to a high standard to keep Alaskans safe, and to create the best possible future for Alaskans by not cutting from these two programs.
• Nathan Soboleff is lifelong Alaskan who resides in Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.