Juneau, AK (KINY) - Lt. Governor Byron Mallott addressed several of the state's issues in his speech at the Alaska Federation of Natives.
Mallott especially brought to light the reality many are facing in communities across the state from a lack of funding.
"Rural public safety, rural justice, is a crisis in our state. Where is the bloated budget to deal with that? The educational achievement of our schools has so much that is needed to improve, in spite of the gains that we have made. Where is the bloated budget to deal with that? Two-thirds of Alaska's coastline and coastal communities are served by the Alaska Marine Highway system, the only lifeline that those communities have. They are as much a part of Alaska as is any urban center. This past year their budget was shortfunded by $22 million, which suggests that a significant portion of that service will have to go away. Where is the bloated budget for that?"
"In rural Alaska, and in urban Alaska, we face a sense and a reality among our populations that we do not have the public safety services that we need. In rural Alaska, to have a young person be murdered and lay in a rock quarry covered by a tarp for four days, because police could not get there for that period of time in order to begin the process of trying to bring a perpetrator to justice."
"Where is the bloated budget for that?"
Mallott also pleaded for those involved with the special session to avoid inaction.
"If we do not resolve Alaska's fiscal crisis in this special session and in the 2018 session, you will see this. You will see us having spent the last of our reserves. You will see those who want a minimal government, having achieved it simply by doing nothing."
"I dream of an Alaska where strength in unity means all of Alaska, where we come together collectively as a single people that respects the differences of those amongst us that celebrates the beauty of our diversity. Alaska should have the richest and the proudest of urban areas, but we must have the same for all of the rest of our state."
Tensions of the state's budget issues and crime rates are starting to mount as Alaska's leaders gather in Juneau for the special session. Governor Walker also said recently that he wouldn't have called the session if he didn't expect legislators to pass the bills on his agenda.