Zulkosky 'Encouraged' By Dunleavy's Focus On Public Safety, But Still Has Concerns On Budget Cuts

Credit Christine Trudeau / KYUK

Gov. Mike Dunleavy's state-of-the-state speech on January 22 hit on key themes from his 2018 campaign. In the speech, he vowed to protect the Permanent Fund Dividend and repeal Senate Bill 91, an attempt to reform criminal justice reform that became law three years ago during the Walker administration. Gov. Dunleavy said that he is making public safety at top priority.

House District 38 Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat representing most of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, said that she was encouraged by Dunleavy's speech, but still has some concerns. 

"To hear the governor speak about local control and deploying trooper resources throughout the state in a way that was meaningful was something that was encouraging," Zulkosky said. "On the other side of that is his focus on cutting the budget and how we meaningfully invest in public safety with what he’s proposing for some budget cuts."

Zulkosky met with Gov. Dunleavy  to relay concerns about his budget and public safety plans.

"One thing that I’m interested to hear more about as we talk more about public safety is that legislators and areas that are on the road system, and that traditionally have had greater resources for public safety, that are understanding the challenges rural Alaskans face that don’t have access to anything, or individuals that call into a call center and are told to call back when there is a body because there’s not a crime that has happened," Zulkosky said. 

Zulkosky is still waiting for answers from the administration about tribal relations.

"One of my questions in my meeting with the governor last week was trying to understand what his relationship with tribes is going to look like going forward, and ultimately that has to be determined," Zulkosky said. 

Meanwhile, her staff is working on a piece of legislation that would improve tracking and collecting data about disappearing Alaska Native women. She calls it a top priority. Zulkosky doesn’t know her committee assignments yet, as the Alaska House is still searching for its speaker. Sen. Lyman Hoffman was unable to comment on Dunleavy’s speech at the time of broadcast because he was traveling back to Juneau.