It is my honor to speak to all Alaskans – our Alaskan family – this final time as your governor, and it is always great to be in Fairbanks!
These rugged and hearty folk – some of the most patriotic people you’ll ever meet – live here. If there is one thing you are known for it your steadfast support for our military community up here. Thank you for that and a thank you to the U.S. military for protecting the greatest nation on earth. Together we stand!
Getting here can be described as the best road trip in America! Soaring through nature’s finest show you will see Denali – the Great One – soaring under the midnight sun. Alaska has so many extremes. In the wintertime the frozen road competes with the view of the ice-fogged frigid beauty. The cold, though, doesn’t it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And in the summertime – when temperatures are 150 degrees hotter than they were just a few months ago and than they will be just a few months from now – you will see the fireweed along the frost heaves. Merciless rivers rush and carve and remind us that Mother Nature wins. The big, wild and good life teeming along that road leads north to the future. That is what we see here. What we, and the rest of America, see in the Last Frontier is hope, opportunity and country pride, and it is our men and women in uniform that secure it.
We face challenging times with some hell-bent on tearing down our nation by perpetuating pessimism and apologizing for America. They suggest that our best days were yesterdays. But how can this pessimism exist? Proof of our greatness and pride is all around us today. We produce proud and great volunteers who sacrifice everything for their country. This week alone, at the chapel at Fort Rich, I heard the last roll call and the sounding of Taps for three very brave, very young Alaskan soldiers who gave their all for all of us.
Together we stand with gratitude for the troops who protect all our cherished freedoms. This includes our First Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech – which, par for the course – I shall exercise. First, with some “straight talk,” I will address some, just some, in the media because another right that is protected is the freedom of the press. You have such important jobs reporting facts and informing the electorate and exerting power to influence. You represent what could and should be a respected and honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you. That is why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how about in honor of the American soldier you quit making things up. And don’t underestimating the wisdom of the American people.
And, another thing, media: Our new governor has a very nice family, so leave his kids alone!
As we swear in Sean Parnell, no one will be happier than I to witness, by God’s grace Alaskans with strength of character advancing our beloved state. Sean is that. Craig Campbell has that.
I remember that December day when we took the oath to uphold our state constitution. And it was written right here in Fairbanks by very wise pioneers. We shared the same vision for government that they ground into that document. At the time, the founders wrote:
“All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people. It is founded upon their will only, and it is instituted for the good of the people as a whole.”
Their remarkably succinct words guided us in all of our efforts in serving you and putting you first. We have done our best to fulfill promises that I made on Alaska Day 2005 when I first asked for the honor of serving you.
Remember then, our state so desired and so deserved ethics reform. We promised it, and now it is the law. Ironically, it needs additional reform to stop blatant abuse from partisan operatives. And I hope lawmakers will continue that reform.
We promised you that you would finally see a fair return on your Alaskan-owned natural resources. So, we built a new oil and gas appraisal system – an equitable formula to usher in a new era of competition, transparency, and protection for Alaskans and the producers. ACES incentivizes new exploration, and it is the exploration that is our future. It opens up oil basins and ensures that the people will never be taken advantage of again.
Do not forget, Alaskans, that you are the resource owners, per our constitution. And that’s why, for instance, last year when the price of oil soared, our state coffers swelled, but you were smacked with high energy prices, so we sent you an energy rebate because it is your money, and I have always believed that you know how to spend it better than government can spend it for you.
I promised that we would protect the environment while safely and ethically developing resources. And we did. We created the petroleum oversight office and a sub-cabinet to study climate conditions.
I promised that we would govern with fiscal restraint so as not to immorally burden future generations. And we did. We slowed the rate of government growth. I vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of excess, and with lawmakers we saved billions for the future.
I promised that we would lead a charge to forward fund education and hold schools accountable, while improving opportunities for special needs students and elevating vo-tech training. And we did. We also paid down pension related debt.
I promised that we would manage our fish and wildlife for abundance and defend the constitution in doing so. And we have. However, outside political interests just don’t seem to get it. Alaskans need to stick together on this with new leadership. Encourage the new leadership. Stiffen your spine to do what is right for Alaska when the pressure mounts because you will see anti-hunting, anti-Second Amendment “circuses” from Hollywood. And here is how they will do it:
tiny, delicate and talented celebrity starlets will use Alaska as a fund raising tool for their anti-Second Amendment causes. Stand strong and remind them that patriots will protect our individual guaranteed right to bear arms. And by the way, in Alaska, we eat, therefore, we hunt.
I promised that we would seek energy solutions. And we have – with an energy plan calling for 50% of our electricity generated by renewable resources and by insisting that those who hold the leases to develop our conventional resources do so on Alaska’s terms. And now, finally, after decades of inaction and just talk, we are drilling for oil and gas at Pt. Thomson.
I also promised that we would get a natural gas pipeline underway. And we did. Since I was a little kid growing up here, we would talk about, hope for, and dream of commercializing our clean, abundant, and much needed natural gas. Our Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) was the game changer. This is, of course, thanks to our outstanding gasline team and the state legislature, who adopted this law by a 58-1 margin. They knew – they know – that AGIA is the vehicle to drive this monumental energy project and to bring everyone to the table. This bipartisan victory came from Alaskans working together with free market, private sector principles. And now we are on the road to the largest private energy infrastructure project in history. It is for Alaska’s future. It is for America’s energy independence. And it will make us a more peaceful, prosperous and secure nation.
What I promised, we accomplished. “We” meaning state staff and conscientious Alaskans outside of the bureaucracy, such as: Tom Van Flein, Meg Stapleton, Kristan Cole, and many volunteers who stepped up to the challenge as good Alaskans.
Nothing could have succeeded without my “right hand man” Kris Perry. She is the sharpest, boldest and hardest-working partner, and much success is due to Kris.
To Alaska, there is much good in store further down the road, but to reach it we must value and live the optimistic and pioneering spirit that made this state proud and free!
We can resist enslavement to big central government that crushes hope and opportunity. We must be wary of government largesse. It doesn’t come free and often accepting it takes away everything that is free. Melting into Washington’s powerful and caretaking arms will only lead to suck away the incentive to work hard and chart our own course. This will only contribute to an unstable economy and dizzying national debt, and it will make us less free.
I resisted the stimulus package, and we championed earmark reform, by slashing earmark requests by 85%, in order to break the cycle of dependency on a stifling and unsustainable federal agenda. Other states should follow this example for their, and America’s, stability.
We don’t have to feel that we must beg an allowance from Washington – except to beg the allowance to be self-determined.
See, in order to be self-sufficient Alaska must be allowed to develop, to drill and build and climb to fulfill our statehood’s promise! At statehood we knew that we were responsible for ourselves, our families and our future, and 50 years later we can not start believing that government is the answer. It can’t make you happy or healthy or wealthy or wise. What can? It is the wisdom of the people and our families and our small businesses and industrious individuals.
And it is God’s grace helping those who help themselves. And then this allows that very generous voluntary hand up that we are known to enthusiastically provide those who need it.
Do you remember that years ago we sported the old bumper sticker that read, “Alaska: We Don’t Give a Darn How They Do It Outside.” I remember that. It was because we would be different, and we would roll up our sleeves and diligently sow and reap. We can still do this. We can carve wealth out of the wilderness and make our living on the water – with strong hands and innovative minds, now with smarter technology. It is what our First People and our parents did, and it worked because they worked!
We must be prudent and persistent and press for the people’s right to responsibly develop God-given resources for the maximum benefit of the people.
We have come so far in just 50 years. We are no longer a frontier outpost on the periphery of the world’s greatest nation. Now, as a contributor and a securer of America, we can attain our destiny in the promise of our motto: North to the Future!
The pressing issue of our time is energy independence, because there is an inherent link between energy and security, and energy and prosperity. Alaska will lead with energy. We will prove that you can be both pro-development and pro- environment. After all, no one loves their land, clean air, water and wildlife more than an Alaskan! We will protect it!
Americans must look north to the future. For security, for energy independence, for our strategic position on the globe – Alaska is the gatekeeper of the continent.
We are here today at a “changing of the guard.” Now, knowing how much I love this state – some still choose not to hear why I made the decision to chart a new course to advance the state. It should be obvious. It is because I love Alaska this much that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical “politics-as-usual” lame duck session in one’s last year in office. How does that benefit you? With this decision I will be able to fight even harder for you – for what is right and for the truth. And I have never felt that you need a title to do that. So, as we all move forward together, let us vow to keep championing Alaska and to advocate for responsible development and smaller government and freedom.
When I took the oath to serve you, I promised to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this great state – like that grizzly guards her cubs, as a mother naturally guards her own. I will keep that vow wherever the road may lead.
Todd and I, Track, Bristol, Tripp, Willow, Piper and Trig – we will forever be grateful for the honor of a lifetime to have served you. Our whole big, diverse, full and fun family thanks you!
I am very blessed to have had their support all along, and for Todd’s support.
I am thankful too that I have been blessed to have been raised in this Last Frontier. Thank you for our home, Mom and Dad.
In Alaska it is not an easy living, but it is a good living. It is impossible to lose your way here because wherever the road may lead us, we have that steadying Great North Star to guide us home. So let us all enjoy the ride!
God bless you and God bless Alaska!