Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his team deserve kudos for rapidly assembling a new, bipartisan team to wrestle with the potential upheaval the COVID-19 virus could wreak on Alaska’s economy.
Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, defeated by Dunleavy in the 2018 gubernatorial race, and former Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, will lead the team’s effort to formulate an economic plan.
Begich and Parnell, while representing the opposite ends of the political spectrum, are respected and recognized political leaders. Together they should be able to accomplish great things.
The team has its work cut out for it as the virus, only now expanding its reach in Alaska, is expected to affect the state’s tourism industry, its fishing and oil sectors, along with the service industry and other businesses. It already has led to business shutdowns and restrictions across the state.
Worse, the virus comes as the state continues to face chronic budget shortages and North Slope oil, which pays for about 85 percent of state government, is selling for less than $30 a barrel in a slide triggered by a production standoff between the Saudis and the Russians.
Dunleavy did the right thing in forming the team. We, along with all Alaskans, expect great things.