Legislators Anticipate State Of State Address

Gov. Bill Walker is set to deliver his first State of the State address on Wednesday. It’s the first to two back-to-back speeches he’ll give this week on his legislative priorities, with Thursday’s address focused purely on the budget.

In the lead-up, legislators are laying out their expectations for what such an address should include.

Rep. Mike Hawker, an Anchorage Republican, took to the House floor Wednesday morning to encourage Walker to describe his plan for the development of a natural gas megaproject, that would be used to get reserves on the North Slope to market.

“I truly hope that we hear words that assuage the fears that are being expressed on Wall Street about our willingness to work with them and mitigate the risks and keep a pipeline project going.”

The project is expected to cost at least $45 billion, and lawmakers view its construction as a way to help bolster the state’s lagging revenues.

Some legislators, like Anchorage Republican Craig Johnson, want more immediate commitments on government process from Walker.

“I’d like to hear him say he’s going to have his budget amendments in much sooner than he’s required,” says Johnson.

Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, would like the governor to explain how education will be treated as the state faces a multi-billion-dollar shortfall.

“I’d like to see him outline ways that we can protect families, protect schools, protect public safety, and focus on finding government waste — cutting some of these $15 to 20 billion worth of non-priority capital projects,” says Gara.

Walker will give his address at 7pm.