Awhile back, Whitney Pitcher and I put together a list of Governor Palin’s executive accomplishments. That list later became an article featured on Breitbart’s Big Government, as an answer to those who proclaim that Governor Palin was somehow "unqualified" to be on the 2008 Republican ticket. Using facts and historical record, Whitney and I compiled a list that proves every single-one of these people wrong. Keep in mind, most of the people making this assertion (including former McCain staff members), voted for a junior senator from Illinois (with a less than stellar record) in that election.
I wanted to make this information available in list form, as a resource for our readers to help educate America about the good work that Governor Palin has done throughout her career. This information also confirms that Governor Palin was more than qualified to serve as this nation’s Vice President.
Governor Sarah Palin’s Executive Accomplishments
Executive Authority and Success
- Sarah Palin was the first female and youngest governor ever elected in Alaskan history.
- Alaska is tied for the second most powerful governorship in the United States.
“[I]t turns out that the Governor’s office in Alaska is one of the country’s most powerful. For more than two decades Thad Beyle, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina, has maintained an index of "institutional powers" in state offices. He rates governorships on potential length of service, budgetary and appointment authority, veto power and other factors. Mr. Beyle’s findings for 2008 rate Alaska at 4.1 on a scale of 5. The national average is 3.5.”
- Historically High Approval Ratings
· Palin had a 89% and 93% approval rating in May 2007:
"Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican, has earned 89% and 93% approval ratings in two recent polls. She has won nearly universal support because of her strong stand for honest government in the face of a corruption probe into other members of her party. Her support of a proposed natural gas pipeline to the continental USA has helped, too. "Her strength is her independence," says Alaska pollster David Dittman of Dittman Research in Anchorage. "She distanced herself from the old boy Republican regime and has been completely non-partisan." Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Jake Westbrook credits Palin with working across party lines on issues where there is agreement."
- "The triumph came in Alaska where Sarah Palin, a politician of eye-popping integrity, was elected governor. She is now the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating in the 90s, and probably the most popular public official in any state." – Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard 07/16/07
- Governor Palin’s approval rating average from the time of her inauguration until John McCain selected her to serve as the vice presidential candidate in 2008, was 77.38%
Budgeting and Spending
- Cut state spending between 2007 and 2010 by 9.5%.
- Reduced federal earmark requests by more than 80%:
- Invested $5 billion in state savings, overhauled education funding, and implemented the Senior Benefits Program to provide support for low-income older Alaskans.
- Stopped the "Bridge to Nowhere" and wanted to redirect the federal funds to Minnesota after the bridge collapse in 2007. In an email to her staff, she wrote:
[W]e MUST come out with a strong position against AK ‘ s perceived " Bridge to Nowhere" so we quit looking clueless and selfish across the nation and can clear up the perception that the Gravina project is the state ‘ s priority . The $350m bridge is not our priority.
The nation needs to be spending $ on fixing what we have – Minnesota needs " bridge money" today more than we need a few Alaskans to perpetuate the nonsensical notion that our Gravina earmark is more important than fixing aged infrastructure. We would gain so much if we get that message out there – that the nation can pull, and work , together and make wise decisions on federal priorities … we should see that earmark redirected to Minnesota ‘ s tragedy be the Gravina bridge isn’t going to happen on our watch anyway.
- Rejected much of President Obama’s "stimulus money" in 2009. During a press conference on the matter, she said:
“We are not requesting funds intended to just grow government. We are not requesting more money for normal day-to-day operations of government as part of this economic stimulus package. In essence we say no to operating funds for more positions in government."
Also stating in a press release:
"As I wrote to our congressional delegation on January 7, our administration recognizes that President-elect Obama and the congressional leadership of both parties favor the use of formulas to ensure fairness among the states and to avoid the earmark abuses of the past.
We also have to be mindful about the effect of the stimulus package on the national debt and the future economic health of the country. We won’t achieve long-term stability if we continue borrowing massive sums from foreign countries and remain dependent on foreign sources of oil and gas."
- Proposed a $2.6 billion investment in the Education Fund to help fund public education for the future.
- Used her line-item veto to cut more than a quarter billion in superfluous spending in 2007:
The Governor vetoed nearly a quarter of a billion dollars of projects contained within Senate Bill 53. Establishing a budget process, the Governor focused her decisions on the Constitutionally-mandated services of education, public safety and health, and infrastructure.
- 2007 vetoes included projects such as berry economic development, the AT&T Sports Center, a Salmon Study, a tennis court at the Lions Club, batting cages, gun club facility improvements, motocross course construction, a virus free seed potato project, and numerous other items placed in the budget that were not the State of Alaska’s responsibility.
- In 2008, Governor Palin vetoed more than a quarter billion in superfluous spending:
In all, $268 million was vetoed from the budget bills. "The budgets will provide needed services, will leverage other funds and will make a significant investment in Alaska’s future,” Governor Palin said.
- Vetoed 361 line-items in 2008.
- Utilized line item reductions to reduce proposed spending by $80.3 million in 2009.
- Instituted a temporary hiring freeze to reduce expenditures during a period of unanticipated low oil prices in 2009.
- Cut spending more than 33% in FY2010 from FY 2009’s budget.
- Signed energy legislation suspending the state motor fuel tax.
- Provide Alaskan residents with a “resource rebate” to help offset high energy costs:
After funding the state’s priorities, putting billions away in savings and still seeing a budget surplus, the Legislature agreed to a special one-time payment, sharing part of our resource wealth with Alaskans, who under our Constitution are the owners in common of these resources, and who I believe can decide better than government how to use that share.”
For the second year in a row, unemployment insurance tax rates have dropped.
“The 2009 unemployment insurance tax rates will be the lowest Alaska employers have experienced in 29 years,” Governor Palin announced today. An employer in the average rate class will pay approximately $93 less for each employee than in 2008. The rates are applicable to the first $32,700 of the individual employee earnings
- Cut property taxes as Mayor of Wasilla. She eliminated small business inventory taxes; cut property tax mil levy every year she was in office (6 years straight).
- Reformed the state’s pension program by ensuring a successful transition from a defined benefits to a defined contributions system and addressing the $8 billion unfunded liability in Alaska state’s retirements, making it more solvent and leading to a decrease of 34.6% in state liabilities during her tenure.
- Left Alaska with an improved credit rating during and following her tenure as Governor:
· Standard & Poor’s raised Alaska’s credit rating from AA to AA+ in April, 2008:
“Our fiscal prudence is being recognized by the financial markets. It affirms our efforts to control government spending and live within our means,” Governor Palin said. “We have been working hard advocating for Alaska, both within the state and outside, and I am pleased to see it paying off.”
· Moody’s upgraded Alaska’s credit rating to AAA in November 2010 and Standard & Poor’s upgraded Alaska to AAA too in January in large part due to Governor Palin’s policies as indicated below. Each italicized bullet point is a point provided by Standard and Poor’s as an indicator for credit upgrade:
o “The state’s strong financial management and generally conservative forecasting”: during her tenure, Governor Palin cut spending 9.5% and reduced earmarks 80%.
o “The state’s financial flexibility, enhanced by the maintenance of large reserves derived from windfall oil revenues since fiscal year 2008”: Governor Palin’s oil tax reform plan implemented in FY2008 was a severance or production tax on oil companies—a tax they paid as a recompense for developing the Alaskan owned natural resources has helped create fiscal reserves for the state.
o “The state’s moderate debt burden”: During her tenure, Alaska’s overall debt decreased nearly more than 157 million dollars between FY2007 (her predecessor’s final budget year) and FY2010 (her final budget year), while debt outstanding increased at 4.2% annual rate (between FY 2007 and FY 2010) compared to the 6.8% annual rate of her predecessor (between FY2003 and FY2007).
o "An accumulation of multiple budget reserves equal to more than 200 percent of the general fund budget”: Due to legislation like ACES and the frugal budgeting of Governors Palin and Parnell, Alaska now has a 12 billion dollars in savings. During the VP campaign, Governor Palin was able to tout a more than $5 billion surplus.
- Spent less on travel expense than her two predecessors despite having a larger family. In fact, she spent over $913,000 less on personal expenses in her first two years than former Governor Frank Murkowski did his last two years.
- Rejected a gubernatorial pay raise.
“Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t ask for a pay raise and won’t accept one during her current term.”
- Took a voluntary pay cut as mayor to set the tone for her administration.
- ACES: In 2007, Governor Palin signed ACES—Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share—a net tax on oil profits that was passed in a bipartisan and transparent manner.Constituents had opportunity to read a draft of the bill 17 days before legislators discussed it. ACES replaced the corruption tainted oil tax plan of the previous administration which was passed in secret and ultimately lead to the indictment of several Alaskan state officials and oil company personnel. ACES provided oil companies with incentives to develop. The progressivity of the tax meant producers were protected when oil prices were low while the interest of the resource owners—the people of Alaska— were appropriately protected as well.
- Job Success of ACES:
- There were a record number of oil industry jobs in each year from 2007, when ACES was implemented, to 2009.
- The number of oil companies filling taxes with the state of Alaska doubled between 2006 and 2009. This includes a number of independent and foreign oil companies.
- Natural resources and logging jobs increased 13.7% during Governor Palin’s tenure according to Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development data.
- AGIA (Alaska Gasline Inducement Act) — After many decades of unsuccessful attempts to bring a gas pipeline project into existence, Governor Palin and her team introduced to Alaskans the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) in March 2007. AGIA passed the Legislature by a vote of 57-1 in May 2007. The framework for America’s largest private sector infrastructure project—a natural gas pipeline—was signed into law by Governor Palin on June 6, 2007. In August 2008, the Alaska Legislature authorized the Palin Administration to award the AGIA license to TransCanada Alaska. In June 2009, Exxon Mobil signed an agreement with TransCanada to partner on the project.
Governor Palin’s AGIA legislation was conducted out in the open, made use of a competitive bidding process and placed not only Alaska, but the nation on a path toward energy independence.
- The stated purpose of AGIA is to expedite the development of a natural gas pipeline that:
- Facilitates commercialization of North Slope gas resources in the state.
- Promotes exploration and development of Alaska’s oil and gas resources.
- Maximizes benefits to the people of the state from the development of oil and gas resources.
- Encourages oil and gas lessees and other persons to commit to ship natural gas from the North Slope to a gas pipeline system for transportation to markets in Alaska or elsewhere.
- AGIA establishes mutual commitments and responsibilities between the State of Alaska and the AGIA licensee, specifically, commitments to include regular expansions of the pipeline, local hire, instate delivery service at reasonable costs and a firm timeline for development. In exchange for meeting the state’s requirements, the successful AGIA project applicant is entitled to certain inducements that will facilitate project development, notably, up to "$500 million in matching funds, which will help reduce the financial risks that such a huge project faces in its early stages."
- Pt. Thomson: Under Governor Palin’s leadership, drilling Commenced at Pt. Thomson after Exxon Mobil had sat on their leases for more than 25 years The Point Thomson field contains one of the largest untapped and proven reserves of oil and gas on the continent.
- Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO): Governor Palin created the “Petroleum Systems Integrity Office” (PSIO) in April 2007:
PSIO addresses lax maintenance practices on the North Slope that came to light last year after corroded pipelines spilled 200,000 gallons of oil, leading to production shut-downs at Prudhoe Bay and interruption in the flow of oil revenue to the state, she said.
PSIO requires industry to establish and maintain quality assurance programs, and requires the state to inspect facilities to ensure operators comply with those programs. PSIO will also search for any gaps in laws, regulations or industry practices that threaten the integrity of the state’s oil and gas infrastructure. If necessary, the office will step in and exert the state’s authority as issuer of development leases to ensure the system and the state’s interests are protected.
- Took on “Big Oil”: Governor Palin stood up for her constituents when dealing with the powerful oil companies:
"What bothers me is that Alaska tried it Exxon’s way. The result was a contract that is not viable. It did not have the support of the public or the legislature. That’s why we need a competitive, open, and transparent process,” said Governor Palin. “It’s painfully obvious that Exxon Mobil does not want that process. We know exactly where we’re going and have a plan to move forward. Exxon doesn’t like that plan because it puts the interests of Alaska and the nation, first – and not Exxon.”
- Served on national energy committees: Governor Palin served as Vice Chair of the National Governors Association and as the Natural Resource Committee and Chairman of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission.
- Chair, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2003-200
Jobs and Business Growth
- Alaska was 2nd in job growth compared to all other states during her tenure as governor.
- Alaska was 3rd in the nation in terms of change in the unemployment rate relative to the national average.
- Alaska saw a record number of oil jobs in both 2008 and 2009; natural resource and logging jobs increased 13.7% during Governor Palin’s tenure.
- In her first year in office, Alaska was 6th in the country in unemployment improvement.
Business growth and opportunity:
- Governor Palin cut business license fees in half, during her tenure.
- Alaska moved up from the 4th most business tax friendly state to the 3rd most business tax friendly state during her tenure.
- She signed legislation allowing Alaska-based businesses the same opportunities as out-of-state businesses, within Alaska.
- The number of oil companies doing business in Alaska doubled following the passage of ACES.
- Alaska’s exports grew to a record-high $4 billion in 2006, a 12.6 percent increase.
- Alaska’s exports for 2007 reached $3.9 billion, the second best year for exports.
Ethics Reform and Transparency
- Governor Palin fought for and signed sweeping bipartisan ethics legislation which restricted lobbyists, improved disclosure laws, and improved executive and legislative branch ethics laws.
- In the face of corruption, she took on her own party when it was necessary:
She has pushed through ethics legislation amid a burgeoning corruption investigation of Alaska lawmakers. She has bucked her party’s old guard. And she has ordered her administration to seek fewer congressional earmarks.
"What separates her from the others is that at a time when Republicans have suffered from the corruption, she represents clean politics" John J. Pitney Jr. December 27, 2007
- She released her ACES—oil tax bill—to her constituents 17 days prior to the special legislative session where it was to be discussed.
- She opened up natural gas pipeline deals to all potential parties.
- She put the state checkbook online.
- Governor Palin did not allow lobbyists in her office.
- Forward funded education to allow districts greater flexibility. She stated in an email to her staff at the time:
“My goal is to get more money into the classroom; the teaching profession will be honored and teacher profiles elevated on my watch; educ is priority; nothing’s more impt than our kids; I want Ak to feel the same vigor for educ as we have for the gasline; we’ll succeed in forward funding ( eventually ); on our watch our students will have opportunity to be successful via our innovative educ reforms.”
- Supported increased vocational training and early education funding.
- Offered to personally talk to students considering dropping out of school.
- Opened up opportunity to Alaskan students to participate in regional medical school
- Increased overall funding for special needs education 175%.
- Increased funding for the Alaska Youth Challenge Academy 18.8% in her first year in office (FY2008) compared to her predecessor’s final year (FY2007).
- Governor Palin’s FY2008 capital budget included $2.5 million for special needs housing (a 42% increase in capital funding over her predecessor) and $250,000 for Special Olympics facility upgrades.
- Introduced health care transparency legislation:
The bill would establish an Alaska health care information office to give consumers factual information on quality, cost and other important matters to help them make better-informed decisions about health care in the state. Recognizing that health care must be market-and business-driven, rather than restricted by government.
- Proposed repeal of Certificate of Need—a layer of bureaucracy that prevents medical facility development.
- Established the Alaska Health Strategies Planning Council in the Office of the Governor.
- Reduced Medicaid assessments for seniors, those who are disabled, and those who are ill by 83% of her predecessor.
- Expanded Alaska’s Senior benefits program, even signing emergency authorization between the legislature’s general and special sessions.
Support for Constitutional Rights
- Joined multi-state amicus brief authored by the state of Texas in support of the Second Amendment right of individual Americans to bear arms.
- Life member of the National Rifle Association
- Awarded with the NRA’s Gold Medal Award of Merit and the NRA Benefactor Life Membership for defending the 2nd amendment.
- Sued the federal government when the Department of the Interior began listing the polar bear as a threatened species because it such a listing would hamper Alaska’s economy:
“Inappropriate implementation of this listing decision could result in widespread social and economic impacts, including increased power costs and further increases in fuel prices, without providing any more protection for the species,” Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin said.
“While the state is challenging the listing, we remain committed to assuring Alaska’s polar bears are conserved,” Governor Palin said. “The state will continue to monitor Alaska’s polar bear populations and their behaviors in relation to changing sea ice conditions.”
- Sued the federal government when the Cook Inlet beluga whale was listed as endangered because the federal government did not take into account the conservation and protection efforts already put in place by the state of Alaska:
“The State of Alaska has worked cooperatively with the federal government to protect and conserve beluga whales in Cook Inlet,” said Governor Palin. “This listing decision didn’t take those efforts into account as required by law.”
“While challenging the listing, we will continue to protect beluga whales,” said Governor Palin. “We will also be assisting Alaskan communities and stakeholders with navigating the complex bureaucratic process this listing decision imposes on their projects and working cooperatively with federal agencies on the required consultations, designations of critical habitat and development of a recovery plan and objectives.”
- Chose to monitor rather than participate in national standards for education, noting that state and local standards and accountability are better. Instead, she chose to implement a pilot program to improve readiness for school, to employ an initiative to ensure struggling school districts have the needed capacity to serve their students, and maintain a state director of rural education:
“The State of Alaska fully believes that schools must have high expectations of students,” Governor Palin said. “But high expectations are not always created by new, mandated federal standards written on paper. They are created in the home, the community and the classroom.”
- Transitioned responsibility for the quality of Alaska water resources from federal to state control.
Vetoed HB4001 which prohibited the commissioner of the department of administration from adopting same-sex regulations:
"HB4001, is unconstitutional given the recent Court order of December 19th, mandating same-sex benefits. With that in mind, signing this bill would be in direct violation of my oath of office.”
- Governor Palin shared strategic command over the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard:
Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.
As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism.
- Governor Palin was also Commander- in-chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF):
She’s also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security’s counterterrorism plans.
Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country’s defense. Given Alaska’s proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don’t even know about.
- She made official visits troops in Kuwait, Germany and Kosovo.
- Military personnel stationed in Alaska and serving in any National Guard or Reserve unit received free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.
Sanctity of Life
- She supported both parental notification and parental consent laws for abortion.
- Governor Palin supported state constitutional amendments or legislation that would have stated abortion is not a right & made coerced abortion a crime.
- She also signed the ‘Safe Haven’ Bill into law.
Civil and Safety Issues
- Signed the Sonya Ivanoff Act. SB 45, mandating the maximum sentence for first-degree murder when committed by an on-duty peace officer.
- Extended the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
- Made it mandatory that the governor and the Board of Parole to work together to ensure any decision on clemency is based on a thorough review of the case and made in deference to victims and their families.
- Expanded Alaska Homeless Council
- Directed multi-departmental Effort to improve aviation safety.
- Signed aviation, consumer protection legislation.
- Former Member, Alaska Municipal League Board
- Member, Alaska Miners Association
- Member, Alaska Outdoor Council
- Member, Alaska Resource Development Council
- Member, Chambers of Commerce (Various)
- Member, Iditarod Parent-Teacher Association
- Life Member, National Rifle Association
- Founder, SarahPAC (Political Action Committee)
- Member, Valley Hospital Association Board
- Coach/Hockey Team Manager, Valley Youth Sports
- Member, Youth Court Steering Committee
- Former Member, American Management Association
- Former Member, Salvation Army Board
- Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society at Alaska Pacific University