Each day of this AK Legislative session is a slow-moving catastrophe at which one cannot stop rubbernecking.
The Dunleavy Administration is paying a tourist from Michigan with deep Republican ties one of the highest salaries in state government ($195,000) to do the dirty work that apparently no-one who actually lives in Alaska is qualified for, or wants to do – gut all state services.
This person is entrusted with the bloody task of crafting a budget that cuts $1.6 billion from schools, roads, healthcare, Pioneer Homes, the marine highway, bridges, the state troopers, the village public safety officers, runways, water and sewer programs, food safety programs, salmon management, herring management etc. Again, this person does not know anything about Alaska, and by extension, the agencies that serve Alaska. Donna Arduin, the Dunleavy director of the Office of Management and Budget is a tourist. She knows only what political operatives, and what political appointees tell her about Alaska.
Soon the Donna Arduin vision for Alaska will be floated in front of the Alaska State Legislature, a body that does know, and represent Alaska. The Arduin budget will propose the following: private prisons, privatization of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, extremely diminished ferry service, hundreds of cuts big and small that will lead directly to extreme increases in municipal taxes. The Arduin vision is steeped in political ideology and experiences in states so different from Alaska they might be other countries (can you compare Alaska with Florida or California in terms of budget and revenues?)
It is going to hit the AK Legislature, municipalities, school districts, the university, and Alaskans next week, and it will be insulting. It will be like a tourist parking a Winnebago on your front lawn, and complaining loudly that your house is too big, then telling you to chainsaw the living room to bits in order to “right-size” it.
It’s dumb that we are in this position. Willful dumbness. We don’t have to take extreme measures, and we don’t have to do what Donna Arduin (who doesn’t know Alaska) thinks we should do. We can fund the government by doing what everyone else does in America and pay taxes. We can change our oil tax structure to capture that $1.2 billion we are paying oil companies each year in a “per-barrel-credit”.
The budget will soon be in front of Real Alaskans – Legislators, many of who were born here, have children and grandchildren here and don’t plan to leave here until the good Lord tells them to. Let’s hope these people can unify in a veto-proof majority and build a smart budget that keeps our state’s integrity intact.
If you love the legislative process (even while finding it sometimes dismal, disheartening, sad, inappropriate, awful, slow, boring, and unfair) you are in luck next week, because the fireworks will begin in earnest. You should look at the Twitter Handle #akleg once or thirty-five plus times daily from the moment the Arduin/Dunleavy budget drops until June 30 and I am grateful for those Real Alaskans who provide the tweets, including, but not limited to @DermotMCole @mattbuxton @JeffLandfield @theakledger @nonahamhead @MustReadAlaska @lelakis @alaskarobotics @AKCenter
We are in this together,
Government Affairs Director
Hearings to watch this week
Tuesday, Feb 12 – 11:15 AM
Senate Fish and Game Finance Subcommittee
“Alaska’s Fiscal Situation” by Legislative Finance Division
Wednesday, Feb 13 – 9:00 AM
Senate Finance Committee
Consideration of Governor’s Appointees to Mental Health Trust Board of Trustees and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska
Demand a Budget that Works for Alaskans
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