Gov. Dunleavy’s State of the State addresses resource development, education

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, R-Alaska, delivers his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Jan. 30, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy implored Alaskans and lawmakers to capitalize on the state’s natural resources in his annual State of the State address Tuesday. 

During the 50-minute address to the Legislature, he said resource development projects like the Red Dog Mine, where his daughters work, had transformed rural communities. But he said changing attitudes toward development threaten Alaska’s economic future.

“Too many in this state have gotten very good at saying ‘no.’ No to opportunities for other Alaskans,” Dunleavy said. “It’s based on a false premise that one person’s opportunity is somehow another person’s liability.”

Much of Dunleavy’s speech focused on education. It’s a topic leaders from the House and Senate have listed among their top priorities for the session.

Senate leadership has called for a large increase in state funding – as much as $1,000 more per student. Meanwhile, the House has countered with a $300-per-student increase, along with a variety of reforms.

Dunleavy has threatened to veto any bill that increases per-student funding without other education reforms. In Tuesday’s address, he pushed to expand Alaska’s public charter schools, which would get a boost in the House education bill.

“It’s not about money, and it’s not about the student’s background that determines how well one does,” he said. “It’s about the environment, connecting with students, building relationships, and valuing the individual. With the right environment and the right approach to learning, our students can succeed beyond our wildest dreams.”

But the bill has to make it through both houses first, and in response to Dunleavy’s speech, Senate President Gary Stevens said he has serious concerns about the House’s education reform package.

“It started out as a very simple bill. So much has been added to it, things that we, many of us, can’t quite agree to,” he told reporters in a Capitol hallway. “You know, I appreciate the governor’s approach. I’m not sure that, for example, a bonus is the right way to give a salary increase or whether it’s best to work through our school districts who have that responsibility, and to give that money through the (base student allocation).”

During the speech, Dunleavy honored a state trooper, a charter school principal, a teacher, Wrangell Mayor Patty Gilbert, a farmer, and the manager of a Subway restaurant in Anchorage, where Dunleavy said he frequently has lunch.

Eric Stone covers state government, tracking the Alaska Legislature, state policy and its impact on all Alaskans. Reach him at

Previous articleAlaska Legislature takes up bill to restore pensions for public employees
Next articleHomelessness and other stressors linked to Alaska’s continued surge in syphilis at birth