Sean Parnell took over as Alaska's governor in 2009 after Sarah Palin's rise to national prominence and abrupt departure from office made a huge splash, not only nationally, but especially in Alaska. Parnell has guided Alaska's ship of state expertly through those rough seas and deserves an elected term as our governor.
He proposed reasonable budgets, then enforced his conservative approach to state spending by using his veto pen to strike $336 million from the fiscal year 2011 budget. And instead of making cuts which would lead Alaska down a road of high unemployment, the state's jobless numbers are nearly two percentage points lower than the national average (9.6 percent compared to 7.8 in September), and half a point below where they were when he took office.
To be certain, Alaska's relatively robust economy is not solely his doing, but Parnell did what he could and stayed out of the way of those who could do more. He encouraged growth in Alaska's tourism industry by pushing for a reduction in the cruise ship head tax, and the industry has already responded with Princess Cruises adding another ship for 2012. Parnell is now trying to have a similar impact in the development of our oil industry by urging a cap on ACES' progressive tax element. If enacted, oil companies will be encouraged to produce more when prices are highest, meaning more base revenue for the state's coffers. Parnell is also pushing a tax credit for technically challenging fields, which will similarly bolster production as Alaska learns to find oil and gas in new places - a necessary step as readily accessible reserves are reduced.
We are also impressed with Parnell's commitment to Juneau. The Capital City hosted a governor's picnic this summer and Parnell was recently on hand to toss the coin at Juneau-Douglas' first-round home playoff game. In the grand scheme of things, football and French's Mustard on a hot dog are small potatoes, but they do point to a general sense of Parnell's appreciation of Juneau and its role as the capital, as well as his duties here as Alaska's chief executive.
We are also pleased with Parnell's recent statement to our editorial board that he welcomed Mead Treadwell as part of his administration and envisioned a role for Treadwell that extended beyond the few duties prescribed by the Alaska Constitution. As part of Parnell's administration, Treadwell will not be working at cross-purposes with the governor. And if he is somewhat in the loop he can take over the helm if need be, an ability Parnell's recent history has shown cannot be easily overlooked.
Tuesday's choice in the governor's race is clear: Alaska should be pro-Parnell.