Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I) said the work done to close the budget gap is paying dividends in the economy.
Walker told News of the North that he is pleased with the improvements being made to the state's economy, "Closing the fiscal gap by 80% is a significant step. That caused our bond rating to be improved. We are seeing a lot of positive indicators around the state. We have made the turn after three and a half years. We still have a 20 percent budget gap, there is hard work left to be done. 80% is a lot better than zero."
Walker said momentum continues to be built for a natural gas pipeline deal with China. He said he has been encouraged with the level of support he's received, "Things continue to progress on a more expedited basis than we expected. There is a lot of support from the White House and the market side, and we are pleased with the progress to date."
Walker also predicted that there will no more state jobs cut in Juneau in the near future, "We've had a tremendous layoff of state jobs across the state. Juneau is the hub of state government. There has been some impacts. We hear statements from many who say we have to continue to cut state government. i ask the question where are you talking about?"
Walker said it has been a challenging three years with 3,000 fewer positions. In addition, 40 state facilities were closed and 100 state programs were either eliminated or modified. "It has not been pleasant but I think that part is behind us now."