Dunleavy calls for lottery, dividend-land exchanges in State of the State address

Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives his State of the State address on Monday, January 27, in Juneau. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed introducing a state lottery Monday night during his second State of the State address. He called it an “innovative new approach to revenue” for the state.

There are no bills to create a lottery currently in the Legislature.

He also proposed allowing Alaskans to exchange permanent fund dividends for land. 

“We are going to look at totally revamping how Alaskans get a piece of the Last Frontier,” Dunleavy said. “We are going to put in place a number of initiatives that will enable Alaskans to own a piece of this great state, easier and cheaper than ever before.” 

Under his proposal, Alaskans could receive certificates for land valued at twice their statutory PFDs. 

Dunleavy said last year’s budget cut proposals were a shock to many Alaskans.

“I didn’t run for governor to hurt the state that I love and the people I care about,” Dunleavy said. “No governor wishes to do that. But with that said, we still have a significant fiscal issue that needs to be addressed for the long term.”  

But, he said the Legislature must allow Alaskans to vote on constitutional amendments he’s proposed that would require public votes on changes to dividends and new or increased taxes, and would limit state spending. 

Dunleavy spent several minutes of the speech talking about developing the state’s resources — including fish, timber and rare earth minerals, in addition to oil.

He also referred to a 2010 state law that calls for generating half of the state’s energy through renewable sources. 

“Whether it’s tidal, hydro, solar, biomass, wind, or geothermal, we have more potential to deploy renewable energy than anywhere else on the planet, and we have an obligation to make every possible effort to reach this 50% goal by 2025,” Dunleavy said.

During the course of the speech, he brought up an initiative to deter sex trafficking and other sex offenses. And at the end of his time at the podium, he brought up education, including his instructions to the education commissioner to launch a working group to consider ways to recruit and retain teachers. 

Members of the multiparty House majority caucus said they were encouraged by parts of the address, and want more information on the land exchange and lottery ideas. 

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon says it appeared that the governor has been listening to Alaskans. 

“It’s, I think, gratifying to hear a different tone, a different approach, we hope,” Edgmon said. “And certainly a willingness to work with us here in the Legislature and to work with those around the state. However, as they say, the devil’s in the details.”

Edgmon said working on the formula to set permanent fund dividends may be the largest task facing the Legislature. 

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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