Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Teacher Explains Alaska’s Financial Situation




BY DONN LISTON(2019©donnliston.com)



Shameful antics by wannabe anarchists disrupted the third day of a Special Session of the Alaska Legislature called by Gov. Michael Dunleavy for Wasilla Middle School July 10. Because this was not Juneau, Wasilla Police and Alaska State Trooper security allowed a spectacle of civil disobedience to occur in the makeshift chamber.

Had it been Juneau, theatrics would have been designated to the plaza in front of the capital. But here in Southcentral Alaska, some people who do not respect Rule of Law demonstrated their stupidity.

That is what Alaskans saw online and in the news. This is part of the hysteria generated as a result of June 28, 2019 vetoes:
“Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy today shared the following message with Alaskans after signing the FY2020 budget with approximately $400 million in line-item vetoes. With an overall reduction in state spending of $678 million, the Governor’s actions eliminate nearly 50 percent of the state’s deficit this year. Dunleavy says he hopes a “two-year process will put Alaska in a position of balancing the budget without new taxes or a reduction of the traditional Permanent Fund Dividend.”
In Juneau, on Wednesday 37 of 38 lawmakers voted to override Dunleavey’s budget vetoes. They needed 45 votes to do it, but again theatrics is everything when you are simply throwing a temper-tantrum.

Gov. Dunleavy the teacher also on Wednesday transmitted a narrow Fiscal Year 2020 capital budget, sending a message to the Legislature that – by failing to capture more than a billion dollars in federal infrastructure dollars and to provide an adequate funding source – their work constitutes an incomplete.
“Unfortunately, the capital budget I received back from the legislature lacked the support needed to fully fund projects and programs critical to the development of Alaska, ”wrote Governor Dunleavy in a letter to the Legislature today. “I look forward to a swift resolution on the 2019 Permanent Fund Dividend, so the legislature can quickly move on to fully funding a capital budget to support jobs and families across Alaska, and ensure Federal funds are not forfeited and critical road, infrastructure, and life, health safety projects receive funding.”
Antics of protestors came into perspective later Wednesday evening for some other Alaskans when the governor himself spoke to a Susitna Rotary Club meeting at the Extreme Fun Center in Wasilla. There Dunleavy outlined the history of the Alaska Permanent Fund--founded when production was running at 2 million barrels per day during the early 1980s--to the decline in production since. 

“I made some promises during the election and the crime legislation was a very difficult accomplishment.” explained Dunleavy, “It was done in Juneau with passage of HB 49 after 151 days in session.”


His choice to move the next special session to Wasilla was based on Dunleavy’s belief that more Alaskans must participate in the discussion when it comes to the budget and the Permanent Fund Dividend. During seven previous years in Juneau as an elected official the former state senator from the Mat-Su Valley says he believes more Alaskans should have direct access to the process.

You might say cutting $678 million from the budget was Dunleavy’s clarion call.

Dunleavy answered a range of Rotary Member questions, including specific details about how the new crime legislation will make Alaska safer, what his administration is doing about Alaska Psychiatric Institute, and what we can expect to happen with the University of Alaska system. Medicaid expansion under the previous governor is requiring work between the Dunleavy administration and the federal government. Dunleavy said he hopes to have some announcements this fall in this regard, as his goal is to have “more access and better care.”

How the state spends money is particularly important because the vast majority of money in this state goes to government. Alaska does not have a strong private sector infrastructure, the teacher explained.

The University of Alaska has expanded beyond efficient delivery of programs and services over the decades. Some of the system must return to a community college model, according to the governor, whose budget director Donna Arduin directly provided hard numbers to back up his assertions. UA is running 250 percent over the costs of other state universities.

Each question was asked in measured tones and each response was conversational. The governor was upbeat, and optimistic about how the current budget impasse would be resolved. He said the legislature is having a difficult time and will have to compromise because “Alaska must right size our budget.”

The handful of protesters who had stood outside the building prior to the meeting had left once their media enablers didn’t show up to glorify them.

One Rotary member asked: “What happens if the legislature doesn’t approve a PFD this year?”

“Alaskans will be sad,” Dunleavy said. “But that is the conversation we are having.”

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