Jobs and Opportunity Matter
You deserve a Governor who’ll end Alaska’s recession and work to create good paying jobs. Governor Dunleavy has killed 6,000 good paying jobs just by ducking our fiscal crisis, emptying our savings accounts, and demanding a decimated construction budget. Our austerity construction budget, which receives roughly ¼ the state support than the average construction budget from 2006-2015, has taken away good paying jobs, harms businesses, and leaves less money to circulate through our economy. It’s left Alaska’s main port, and our roads and infrastructure across the state unmaintained. It’s prevented needed energy projects, including renewable energy projects that can lower the high cost of electricity and heating.
Help Businesses Succeed
Less money in our economy, fewer workers to spend money at our businesses, and a budget crisis Governor Dunleavy has failed to address keep businesses from locating in Alaska. He’s prevented needed job growth. He’s harmed families and communities. Today Alaska has a maintenance and repair backlog of over $2 billion in decaying state and University buildings and infrastructure. We should put people and businesses across the state to work on these projects.
Better Schools & Universal Pre-K: More Success, Higher Graduation Rates
As a legislator I filed and sponsored legislation to lower class sizes. Students deserve individual attention to help them succeed, not overcrowded classrooms. To end the annual fight over education, I’ve always proposed keeping school funding up with the cost of inflation. Students deserve good teachers, not battles over how many teachers they’ll lose the next year.
After years of increasing class sizes Alaskans are losing faith in our commitment to public education. As Governor I’ll work to improve our schools, reduce class sizes, and increase student opportunity and success.
My opponents have different records on public education.
Governor Dunleavy pushed over a quarter billion dollars in education cuts once he took office. That would have put 2,600 teachers and educators out of work and out of the schools where we need them help students succeed. In 2016 Governor Walker eliminated $32 million in education funds for the 2015-2016 school year that had been passed by law in 2014. In addition he vetoed roughly $55 million more in public education funds in 2016. Each had their reasons, which I disagreed with. I believe smaller class sizes increase academic achievement, and that continually increasing class sizes steals opportunity from students.
Today families are leaving Alaska, in part because they see no commitment to public education. We need to make Alaska a place people want to live in, not leave.
Pre-K helps parents who need to work. It increases student achievement and graduation. And it leads to lower unemployment, higher wages, and fewer people on expensive public benefits and in jail. Simply put, Pre-K saves money and increases opportunity.
I’ve supported statewide voluntary Pre-K my whole legislative career, and fought opponents of Pre-K to successfully expand what Alaska offers. Still, we can do much better. As Governor I’ll work to make sure we finally join the roughly 40 states that offer statewide Pre-K to parents who believe that’s what’s best for their children. We can do this with parents who want Pre-K in the classroom, and those who want support outside a classroom setting through Parents As Teachers Pre-K. I started the push for Alaska-supported Parents As Teachers Pre-K, and helped start it as an Alaska-supported Pre-K option.
We should act to improve student success, not just complain about the outcomes that result from increasing class sizes and not helping students enter school ready to read and ready to learn.
Protect Fish Runs, Not Wealthy Pebble Mine Executives
The first thing I’ll do as Governor is drop the Governor’s lawsuit filed on behalf of the Canadian Pebble Mine owners. As an avid fisherman who’s travelled throughout Rural and Urban Alaska, from the North Slope to Southeast Alaska, I know we need to protect our commercial, sport and subsistence fishing and hunting, and our access to those resources.
Fishing binds Alaskans of all backgrounds. Governor Dunleavy has chosen to Side with the Pebble Mine owners, and to threaten Bristol Bay’s world’s greatest wild salmon and trout waters
I’ve voted to support our other mines that operate across the state. But Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place.
And in the face of this summer’s chum and silver crashes in many rural communities, we need to make sure we have the research to take action as quickly and responsibly as possible. I’ll listen and act.
Strong research matters, and listening to people in communities where runs have crashed matters. Are massive Outside owned factory trawlers part of the problem? It was wrong to see an emergency on the Yukon and Kuskokwim and other rivers, and take a seat behind businesses that are fortunately donating fish. And then put false labels on the fish boxes saying they were donated by the state. That’s campaign work, not leadership. The state’s original offer of help on this effort was a paltry $75,000, or half the salary of just one of the Governor’s political appointees.
Support Our Tourism Economy
In 2021 Governor Dunleavy, at the time businesses could afford it least, defunded needed tourism marketing dollars. I co-sponsored legislation to help tourism companies create a vibrant tourism ad campaign. Tourism is a big part of our economy and creates good jobs. We need to partner with businesses to make sure they, and all of us, prosper.
Protect Women’s Rights To Choose & Make Their Own Health Care Decisions
I’ve supported a woman’s right to choose and to make her own health care decisions as a legislator, and always will as your Governor. Both of my main opponents have used their Attorney Generals, while they were Governor, to sue and try to roll back a woman’s right to choose. I’d never let my Attorney General do that, and I’d replace them if they tried. My values have always led me to support your right to make your own health decisions.
My opponents have both stated they don’t believe a woman should have a right to choose, and that’s how they’ve both governed.
The choice you make in this election will be a choice about whether we protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. State law will be the last line of defense for upholding a woman’s right to choose – very soon based on recent U.S. Supreme Court actions threatening that right, and an anti-choice Supreme Court majority.
I will not appoint judges who would re-interpret the Constitution to take away this right. I will not allow the Legislature to roll back these rights. Unlike my opponents, I will not let my Attorney General fight against these rights. I believe your right to choose is part of your constitutional right to privacy.
Finally, I disagreed with both of my opponents, and sided with women’s rights and pro-choice groups, when they passed extreme legislation allowing politicians to interfere with the ability of schools to teach safe sex ed. That 2016 law, HB 156, was written by Governor Dunleavy, and enacted without a veto by then-Governor Walker. I voted and fought against HB 156. Letting politicians interfere with curriculum on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies is wrong, and harms young women and girls.
Ducking and Spending Our Savings Hasn’t Solved The Budget Deficit
As Governor, and as a State Senator before that, Dunleavy has irresponsibly spent away our savings for nearly a decade. $17 billion in state savings are now essentially gone. He hasn’t led. He’s said in his 2021 budget plan that he’ll impose “$1.233 billion” in taxes next year, hidden what those taxes will be, and changed his position too many times to count (December 11, 2020 Gov. Dunleavy “Budget Overview and 10-Year Plan“). Six months later he shifted to the biggest raid in Permanent Fund history, and tried to take $3 billion more from the Fund than the law allows. He promised he’d only do that “one time” . . . for now.
These aren’t plans. They’re bad excuses for spending three years ducking our budget crisis.
A Living Minimum Wage For Alaska Workers
I’ve co-sponsored legislation to require a $15/hour minimum wage. As businesses recover from COVID, I believe in creating a living wage for people who work hard to pay rent and put food on the table. We can phase that in with meaningful but gradual minimum wage increases to allow businesses to recover from the pandemic. I’ll work with Alaskans and businesses to help workers, and avoid hurting struggling businesses, at the same time.
Giving Away Billions of Dollars in Oil Company Corporate Welfare Is Wrong
Giving away money that belongs to Alaskans, for Alaska’s oil, is taking from you and giving to Outside corporations. That’s welfare for the wealthy, and it’s wrong.
Part of a fiscal plan should be an end of unnecessary oil company tax credits, which corporations get even if they reduce their investments here and spend their billions in annual Alaska oil profits Outside.
Whether it’s good schools, a funded PFD, construction jobs, or a University that creates jobs, these things are in jeopardy as long as the money we need to pay for them is given away to multinational corporations like ExxonMobil. Giving to the wealthiest at the expense of seniors, children, and the economy is corporate welfare, not leadership.
Les Has Acted On Climate Change
In 2010 I wrote and passed amendments (Haines Republican Bill Thomas was my Co-Sponsor) to save money and battle climate change. Today all state, University and school buildings must be built to cost-effective energy efficiency standards. That saves money, and reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses.
Bridging the Rural/Urban Divide
The late Representative Mike Kelly, who I’d worked with across party lines, once called me the “Rural Representative from Anchorage”. That wasn’t meant as a compliment, but I took it as one. I’ll never pit community against community, and urban residents against rural residents. We should all prosper together.
As a legislator I represented the whole state, sided with efforts to bring 21st Century sanitation and water treatment to Rural Alaska, and worked hard to try to expand police coverage to the almost 100 communities that have none. I’ve supported our Marine Highway system, and it’s role in helping people and businesses. And I never once threatened Rural Power Cost Equalization payments, something Governor Dunleavy did by trying to spend the $1 billion PCE fund in 2019, and again this year with executive action the courts ruled was illegal.
The solution to our budget crisis and recession isn’t taking from one part of the state to benefit another. It’s working together so we can all live with dignity and respect.
Equal Rights For All Alaskans
All Alaskans deserve equal rights. I’m proud to stand with Alaskans who want to end discrimination in housing, employment and who believe we all have the right to live as equal citizens.
Both of my main opponents still believe in the outdated view that marriage should only be between a “man and a woman”. While I respect former Governor Walker, I disagree with his unsupportive views on equal rights, and disagreed strongly when he let his Attorney General sue to end the right of same-sex couples to get married in Alaska. That’s something I’ll never allow my Attorney General do.
I’ll demand equality regardless of your race or color or religion, and regardless of whom you love. I’ve sponsored legislation supporting equal LGBTQ rights, and will always stand with our neighbors, who all deserve to be treated as equals under the law. “Liberty and Justice for All” isn’t just a phrase we should recite. It’s something we should do.
A Strong PFD You Can Bank On – Not False, Unfunded PFD Promises
This Governor has changed his promises from a “statutory PFD” he promised during the campaign, down to a 50% non-statutory PFD plan, which would pay $1,500 less in 2021 than the “statutory PFD” he promised you. Those empty promises and broken promises were made to get votes, not pass a PFD.
I tried to override Governor Walker’s PFD veto in 2016. As a state Senator Governor Dunleavy voted to support that veto. When asked to vote for a the Joint House and Senate Session the Constitution requires to override a veto, he voted “No” along party lines, blocked the override vote, and left the PFD veto in place.
I’d pay for it. I’ve pushed for and filed legislation to pay for a larger PFD, and better schools, and the things that provide opportunity and economic prosperity in this state. In 2018 I filed House Bill 381, which would have returned us to a statutory PFD payment formula with the revenue we’d receive if we ended the oil tax giveaway Governor Dunleavy voted for as a Senator in 2013, and that I voted to stop.
I’ll end roughly $1 billion in unjustifiable oil company tax subsidies, or “tax credits.” Without that fair oil revenue, Governor Dunleavy has pitted Alaskans who support schools, renewable energy, a PFD, construction jobs, and senior and children’s support against each other to fight over the crumbs.
For more than three years, Governor Dunleavy has played shell games with the PFD, promising a $6,000 PFD, then the “statutory PFD formula” (roughly $3,850 this year) and now something less.
Republican legislators in his own party have asked him for a rational plan to pay for a PFD, and he’s refused. His refusal to propose the “funding” part of the PFD is why it fell to $980 last year, or $5,000 less than he originally promised.
His only “plan” has been to slap together a last-minute, dangerous $3 billion raid on the Permanent Fund – the biggest Permanent Fund raid in Alaska history. He promises he’d only raid the Permanent Fund “one time” to pay for Government so there’s money left over for a PFD, and then offers no way to pay for future PFDs. In eight years as a politician, as a legislator and now as Governor, he’s just emptied our savings and pitted Alaskan against Alaskan.
There is a way to a brighter future on this and most issues facing the state. I believe it’s wrong to give away our oil wealth to large corporations. That leaves us poor as a state, with too big a deficit to support the things that matter.
The Governor Should Lead To End COVID In Alaska
I’m proud my wife Kelly is a hospital worker and has treated COVID patients. I’m not proud of our Governor. From the start, the Governor should have worked hard to educate Alaskans on what we know works: vaccination for those who can safely get one, and wearing effective disposable hospital masks when in crowded places.
As Governor I’d convene my experts, listen to them, and act before hospitals are filled with so many COVID patients that Emergency Room health workers have to decide who gets needed life-saving care first. Life-saving care should never have to be rationed. Alaska should never have had the worst COVID-19 infection rates in the nation, as it did this Fall.
The Governor has chosen politics over action, and tried to appeal to those who oppose these effective measures by being intentionally equivocal on both, and not wearing a mask himself at crowded indoor political functions. Following one of those functions he got COVID himself. A responsible Governor would have admitted their mistake, and used it as a teaching moment. The Governor chose to avoid the press instead of explaining how wearing a mask would have helped protect him and people exposed to him.
During the worst COVID spike in death and hospitalization this summer the Governor chose to side with a small segment of his supporters opposed to an immediate, life-saving limited Health Care Facility Emergency Declaration. He chose votes over acting quickly to help gravely ill patients, some facing possible death. He refused to act on policies to reduce overcrowding and state bureaucracy – policies that hospitals in crisis were pleading for. He could have done most or possibly everything they asked for, immediately, with the stroke of a pen in July, but refused to.
Bills are fine and could have been filed after a Governor’s Health Declaration, on the first day the August 2021 Special Session started. Bills alone take too long when we’re faced with a public health emergency. He refused calls to act in July and August as Alaska’s Sumer and Fall COVID crisis was escalating. He waited until September when the fire was killing more people, and overcrowding more hospitals with longer emergency room waits.
Thanks to hospital and health care workers and leaders who spoke loudly in public and in the press, public pressure forced action on at least some of these needed measures.
Rather than doing the needed work to protect Alaskans, the Governor spent most of 2021 sending out videos from his office once every few months, ambivalently saying people should choose whether or not to be vaccinated. In August he stoked opposition to safe vaccines, making heated, false Nazi Germany and “forced vaccination” comparisons to voluntary, safe vaccinations. Using heated rhetoric to appease voters who haven’t yet chosen a safe vaccination isn’t leadership. Those charged words followed a simple press question about why he wouldn’t just strongly and clearly urge people to get a safe vaccination to protect themselves, and help slow a raging pandemic.
A responsible Governor would also have spent 2021 travelling the state, bringing experts and other trusted leaders to local communities to speak about how to end this pandemic. Carefully and safely travelling with different experts of all political and ethnic backgrounds, who’d resonate in particular communities, would stop more hospitalizations and infections than a few videos sent from the comfort of the Governor’s Office. The goal is to convince people to take the actions we need to slow this pandemic. Going from community to community, with leaders and experts local residents trust is more effective than sitting in an office sending out an equivocal video every few months.
A successful battle against this deadly pandemic requires work, not politics.