Thank you, and Good Day, Fairbanks! Thank you for the kind introduction, and for having me here today.
It is great to be back in the Golden Heart City, with summer time finally here! I like visiting with people dedicated to growing Alaska's economy! You know what it takes to grow jobs!
Last week I had the great privilege of attending the Stryker redeployment.
I am immensely proud of Fairbanks and the Interior, the way you love and support our troops.
As I drive through Fairbanks, I see "Welcome Home 125th Stryker Brigade" signs on local businesses -- the Golden Heart City radiating all that is good!
You proudly display your love of our country and our soldiers. Thank you!
And you remind all Alaskans how important it is to say thank you to a military member you meet in a store or in the airport. Hire them so they will make Alaska their home, as some of you who have served in the military have! Because veterans make great Alaskans!
Last week I signed the budget bills for Fiscal Year 2013. Fairbanks and the Interior will see a lot of jobs and work on the street as a result of the budget. In fact, I note that a lot of it is actually street work.
Here in Fairbanks, you'll have nearly $157 million dollars of work, including: $86 million in infrastructure, $57 million in education and $12.7 million in public safety and health.
That includes over $46 million for UAF Engineering Building Construction and Renovation.
And around the Arctic, we are still working on the road to Ambler; and, on the Road to Umiat -- Foothills west, we're continuing the environmental impact study.
We could rename those "Roads to Jobs."
Going into next year, Alaska's cash position is as strong as it's ever been, with $15.7 billion in the budget reserves, our budget savings.
Over the past three legislative sessions, I have vetoed $766 million in spending as I've enforced spending limits on government's appetite to spend more. That means, Alaska has more bank, more savings for the future when times are lean again.
Spending discipline now? Why? You know the answer: High oil prices mask production decline. When oil prices come down further and as production continues to decline, Alaskans will need those savings to get us through.
You also know the answer to fixing oil production decline: Making adjustments to Alaska's oil tax regime to make us competitive at these higher prices, in both existing fields and new fields.
We need some simple adjustments that bring investors back. That's what we all want, isn't it?
After two years and thousands of hours of legislative work; thousands of pages of information and analysis; and many Alaskans testifying in support of comprehensive change to Alaska's oil tax regime, there weren't 11 votes in the Senate for comprehensive tax change. They were stuck at 10 votes for comprehensive change, and 10 votes against.
They were stuck on a lot of things. Such as HB 168, the Security Injunction Bill, another Alliance priority and casualty of the Senate's composition.
Back to oil taxes, many Alaskans have weighed in on the issue.
I want to thank you for taking the time to testify. Here at the LIO and there, at the Capitol; your letters, phone calls, petitions -- all that you have personally invested in this. I honor your efforts and on behalf of working Alaskans and their families, I thank you.
And now, the news you and I have been warning of:
Last week, North Dakota pulled ahead of Alaska in daily oil production. Alaska is now Number 3. Well, we don't want a bronze medal for Alaska! No thanks!
You know first-hand that government tax policies directly affect your business decisions. You know what decline looks like:
It looks like empty machine shops.
It looks like trucks heading south, out of town!
It looks like Alaskans' oil staying locked underground, where we can't benefit from it.
We get it! The session may be over, but I'm not done. To me, a million barrels a day is a more worthy goal to pursue than status quo decline.
We will continue to press the case for a competitive tax regime that brings more investment back to Alaska, more production to the pipe, and more opportunities for Alaskans.
Turning now to bringing natural gas to Alaskans and markets beyond: It remains a high priority for our Administration.
Recently, we've seen a glut of natural gas in the Lower 48, and a transition away from nuclear power in Japan, after the 2011 tsunami.
This means more opportunity for Alaska's gas in the Pacific Rim, rather than in the Lower 48.
Last October I put Alaska on a clear path to a large diameter LNG project from the North Slope to tidewater--with gas for Fairbanks.
We've made historic progress this year on getting Alaskans' gas to Alaskans -- and markets beyond.
The CEO'S Meeting in Alaska was a first: CEOs of the three major companies agree to move forward on resolving Point Thomson litigation and on a gasline in our state.
Point Thomson resolution, another first! We actually achieved resolution in Alaska's interest.
Point Thomson holds about 25 percent of the proven gas reserves needed to support gasline contracts and financing.
The settlement requires these companies to invest and produce from Point Thomson or lose acreage.
Resolving this litigation is huge! It means billions more in North Slope investment at Point Thomson, and related jobs in the next one to three years. It means we can make progress on a major gasline.
GAS PIPELINE ALIGNMENT
And after resolution of the Point Thomson litigation, yet another historic milestone has been met: In March, the three producers and TransCanada signed a memorandum of understanding aligning their companies to work on an all-Alaska gasline from the North Slope to tidewater in Alaska.
This historic alignment is the first time Alaska's three major leaseholding producers have aligned with an independent pipeline company on an All-Alaska gas pipeline.
And TransCanada got its project plan amendment approved by the State, so they can move forward on this all-Alaska, private-sector gasline.
So this is my message to Fairbanks: My message to job creators in this room. We will not stop. We will keep pressing forward on every front, in every venue, for every gas field, oil field, and every opportunity for Alaskans.
Because Alaskans don't back down from opportunity. Our unique history has always been about seizing opportunity.
You keep moving forward. And I will keep pushing forward. To clear every hurdle from Alaskans' path. And together, we will move this state forward.
Thank you -- and I wanted to leave time for questions.