A review of Palin's public statements
A review of her public statements, signed and vetoed bills, and interviews with people in state government provide insight into Ms. Palin’s positions on other statewide issues:
HEALTH CARE Ms. Palin proposed eliminating a requirement that new medical facilities receive a “certificate of need” from the state before opening. She argued that the certificate program had the effect of driving health care costs up by not allowing more competition and potentially better health care in newer facilities.
In an op-ed piece in The Anchorage Daily News in February, Ms. Palin wrote that eliminating the certificate program, “with certain exceptions, will allow free-market competition and reduce onerous government regulation.” The bill, strongly opposed by hospitals, did not make it out of the Legislature.
TRADE Ms. Palin does not appear to have made any trade missions since taking office, and former state officials said the state’s trade staff had been reduced under her watch.
Alaska has also sharply reduced its role in the Northern Forum, an association of state and regional governments from countries including Canada, Russia, Japan and China that works on common issues in northern regions like economic development, flooding and global warming.
Under Governor Murkowski, Palin’s predecessor, the state sent senior administration officials to the forum’s meetings and contributed $60,000 to $100,000 to the forum each year, according to the forum’s executive director, Priscilla Wohl.
Under Palin, the state has reduced its spending to the base-level membership dues, $15,000, and the administration has not attended any forum meetings, including one last fall in Russia.
“Had she participated, in the last 18 months she would have met ambassadors, governors, heads of the European Union’s programs, of United Nations programs,” Ms. Wohl said.
EDUCATION In March, Ms. Palin approved a widely praised legislative effort that would increase education spending by about $200 million over five years, an increase made possible by revenue surpluses from the rising price of oil.
She largely took her education spending proposal from the recommendations of a special task force created by lawmakers to address an issue that had long divided the capital.
The final product increased money for rural schools but also nearly tripled the per-student allocation for students with intensive special needs, in districts like Anchorage, where enrollment has increased from students moving in from rural Alaska for services.
Palin’s son Trig, born in April, has Down syndrome. The special-needs population served by the increase in spending includes students with Down syndrome, said Carol Comeau, superintendent of the Anchorage School District.
Ms. Comeau was among several education experts who gave much of the credit for the increase in financing to the legislative task force but also praised Ms. Palin for approving the bill. She noted that Ms. Palin initially sought a larger per-student increase for the general student population than the Legislature approved.
Some people close to the legislation noted that if Palin had opposed the increases she would have risked alienating Democratic lawmakers whose support she needed for the pipeline legislation.
ENVIRONMENT Ms. Palin has taken positions that reflect her support for developing Alaska’s natural resources. Her views are largely in line with those of voters in her state, but not with environmentalists.
Like most other Alaskans, Ms. Palin supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while her running mate, Senator John McCain, is opposed. She has been ambiguous about whether she believes humans are causing climate change, while Mr. McCain has embraced science linking climate change to human activities.
In August, Ms. Palin sued the federal government for listing the polar bear as a threatened species, saying climate models that showed that the bears would be affected by melting Arctic ice are unreliable. (Documents later revealed that state biologists disagreed with members of the Palin administration.) The governor and other state lawmakers opposed the listing because it could limit drilling for oil off Alaska’s coast.
The most contentious environmental issue within Alaska recently has been the fight over the proposed Pebble Mine, one of the world’s largest discoveries of gold and copper. The proposed mine would be at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to one of the world’s largest runs of wild salmon.
In response to a candidate questionnaire two years ago, Ms. Palin told The Anchorage Daily News, “As part of a Bristol Bay fishing family, I would not support any development that would endanger the most sensitive and productive fishery in the world.”
This year, in August, a ballot initiative before state voters would have made it more difficult to open mines that could damage salmon streams. Ms. Palin came out against the measure just days before it was defeated.
Supporters of the measure believe the governor’s public opposition may have broken ethics laws prohibiting state officials from advocating for ballot initiatives. State ethics officials are reviewing the matter.
THE ELDERLY For many years, Alaska had a so-called longevity bonus, which paid up to $250 a month to elderly people who had lived in Alaska before statehood in 1959. The program was not based on financial need, however, and Mr. Murkowski ended it in 2003, when the state budget was tight.
Ms. Palin promised in her 2006 campaign to restore the bonus. In 2007, however, lawmakers rejected her proposal and instead passed a bill that helped low-income elderly Alaskans. Ms. Palin signed the bill, which pays up to $250 a month to qualifying people over 65.
BUDGET Even with the state enjoying a multibillion-dollar surplus because of high oil prices, Ms. Palin has vetoed about $500 million in capital spending projects requested by state lawmakers in two consecutive budgets. She also supported putting about $7 billion of surplus revenue into state savings over two years.
A chunk of that surplus, about $2 billion, came from the governor’s effort to increase taxes on the oil industry. Ms. Palin’s initial proposal would have brought in about $600 million more in oil taxes, but when lawmakers raised oil taxes higher, Ms. Palin continued to support the measure. That angered many conservative Republicans, as did the governor’s plan to use about $740 million of the surplus to give each Alaskan a $1,200 “rebate” to help pay for high energy costs.
Opponents of the oil tax increase, most of them conservative Republicans, say it ultimately may reduce exploration in the North Slope at a time when oil production is declining. Some also say the rebate money would have been better off saved or spent on long-term efforts to reduce energy costs.
“Throwing money at people is what politicians do when they don’t have a policy,” said Representative Mike Hawker, Republican of Anchorage.
SOCIAL ISSUES Ms. Palin has been open about her conservative views, which include opposition to same-sex marriage and the use of embryonic stem cells for research.
Even so, she has passed over chances as governor to take bold legislative stands on conservative social issues. She declined calls by abortion opponents this year to hold a special session to pass a measure requiring minors to get parental consent before having abortions. The governor chose instead to focus on passing the pipeline legislation. Mr. Hawker, the Republican lawmaker, said the decision reflected Ms. Palin’s political pragmatism.
“She did not take on the Democrats whose support she needed,” he said.