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Parnell sets new benchmarks for gas pipeline

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 11:17 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013
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Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, said if Alaska stops getting its "fair share for our oil resource, it will bust our budget and that means politicians will look to sales and income taxes and a potential raid on your PFD," he said in a Democratic response to the speech. PFD stands for Permanent Fund Dividend. Most Alaskans receive the dividend, their yearly share of the state's oil wealth.

"That's not scare tactics, that's what's coming, if this bill passes," he said.

Parnell urged lawmakers to act on making changes to the tax system.

"While Alaskans — and many of us in this room — haven't always seen eye to eye on these issues, we can all see the obvious, that unless we restore balance to our tax system, our oil fields will become obsolete," he said. "We must make reforms and we must make them now. Waiting, it only makes this problem worse."

Parnell said the question at hand was how to keep the state of Alaska strong.

"Make no mistake: Our present prosperity does not guarantee our future security. The choices we make during this short session will have long-lasting consequences. So let us choose wisely. Let us choose well," he said.

The 90-day legislative session opened Tuesday.

The governor also touched on other priorities, including public safety and building on past efforts aimed at curbing domestic violence and sexual assaults. He also said he would like to see Alaska's high school graduation rate hit 90 percent by 2020 — it's currently around 69 percent — and he called for a commitment to childhood literacy.

He also urged lawmakers to act on legislation to help speed progress on a natural gas pipeline to meet the state's demand for the fuel. And he called for lawmakers to come together and work with him to set a spending limit.

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Follow Becky Bohrer at http://twitter.com/beckybohrerap .