Senator Murkowski has lunch with the Ladies

FAIRBANKS — The Ladies That Lunch committee sponsors the event for Murkowski each year to give the senator a chance to speak informally with the Fairbanks community.
Stimulus funds, climate change, natural gas and base closures were some of the topics she addressed during a lengthy question-and-answer session.
“My criteria for the stimulus bill was whether or not it would be timely, targeted and temporary,” she said. “… and I did not believe that it met that criteria.”
While she stated her disagreement with the process undertaken by Congress for the stimulus package, calling it a “wish-list” for the country, Murkowski said it was now incumbent upon each state to assess whether or not a share of the $787 billion fund will be accounted for and used responsibly.
“Alaska is not immune from fiscal issues we are seeing in the Lower 48,” she said. “As we move forward, we need to make sure that this money is being wisely spent.”
Murkowski said the Legislature is using good discretion to figure out what the state may be getting into by accepting the funds, but said the real question is whether the conditions were too onerous for the state or not.
She gave the example of the “strings” attached to weatherization stimulus funds that would require the state to adopt specific building codes. Murkowski said she believes the state could meet those requirements without much difficulty.
Ladies That Lunch committee Co-Chair Marguerita Maassen-Gilbertson was pleased with the sold-out crowd at the luncheon.
“I think it went very well and we had a nice turnout for tax day,” she said. “(Murkowski) was very honest in her responses and blunt about the state of our economy and what needs to be done on the road ahead.”
She explained the purpose for the luncheon is to allow Fairbanksans to hear what’s going on in the nation’s capital firsthand from Murkowski, who graduated from Monroe Catholic High School in the 1970s.
In the next week, Murkowski will head into intensive discussions about a Comprehensive Energy Bill that will address alternative energy and climate change, among other topics.
“I do believe we must do more to advance renewable energy and advance technology that allows us to be more green but we have to remember that we can’t just flip a switch,” Murkowski said. “We can’t do it at the expense of traditional methods of creating energy.”
Murkowski returned to Anchorage Wednesday afternoon for a physical therapy appointment.
“My goal is to get back and be healthy so I can be back on the slopes in December,” she said. “What’s happening in Washington, D.C., requires 100 percent of not only my time but my physical energy as well. We have so much happening in Congress right now.”
She told the audience that like many Alaskans, she won’t allow her injury to slow her down.

By:  Rebecca George