U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski brought glad tidings to the Alaska Capitol today about the state's resource-development prospects in Washington, D.C.
In remarks prepared for delivery to a joint session of the Legislature, the 20-year Republican senator from Alaska celebrated the departure of the Clinton administration and urged state lawmakers to gear up for a natural gas pipeline, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a revival of the Southeast timber industry.
"Since Alaska joined the union in 1959, there has never been a time when there was a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress," said Murkowski.
"Perhaps our excitement should be tempered by the knowledge that we hold the Congress by the slimmest of margins and are tied in the Senate. But after eight years 2,922 days of getting up each morning to do battle with Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Bruce Babbitt, I cannot tell you how exhilarating it is to substitute the words President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton."
The Republican hold on the federal government will result in improvements in taxes, national defense, education and health care, Murkowski wrote.
Among his promises:
A tax cut for "every hard-working American taxpayer."
A new prescription drug benefit in Medicare.
Educational improvements guaranteeing "that no child is left behind."
But the heart of the speech was in Alaska-specific issues.
"Throughout the past eight years, we have defended Alaska's resource economy and our statehood dreams against those who want Alaska to be a wilderness, a travel destination for the elite, a 'lifestyle' state where there is room for the vacation home of a dot-com millionaire but no room for a working logger, driller, fisherman or miner. But now that America is teetering on the brink of an economic recession driven by higher energy prices and short supply, we have an opportunity to get back on the offensive."
Bill McAllister can be reached at email@example.com.