Gov. Bill Walker, having returned from five days in China, perhaps thought he was “on message” when he posted on Facebook that he needs more revenue to “protect Alaskans’ health and safety.”
He went on to say the Alaska Native Engineering Program at University of Alaska had seen a $960,000 budget cut.
It was a message that was doomed from the start.
Facebook readers were especially biting. Some of the more than 128 commenters argued with his logic, while others took the opportunity to criticize him for taking half of the Permanent Fund dividends. The vast majority were disapproving for all kinds of reasons:
“Try having less special sessions and save even more….now…. “
“We need to cut some personnel out of our executive branch. Starting with you.”
“Cruel joke , taking away peoples needed PFD monies for these Phony crisis.”
“Not growing a budget is not a cut.”
“Lies. You have cut NOTHING. OVERALL STATE SPENDING HAS INCREASED.”
“I almost feel like you are bragging or are proud about this! This is quite sad…to cut funding that provides better opportunities to children who are our future. Sad.”
“Wow. Of all things, you find funding an engineering education program a waste of funds? This has got to be the craziest thing I have read today and we don’t lack for crazy these days.”
The governor recently returned from a five-day trip to China to try to develop a market for his gas line. Previous trips to Japan and South Korea for the same purpose have not proven particularly fruitful for a project that appears to be running out of time and is on its last few months of funding.
The governor is spending more than $6 million a year on salaries for Alaska Gasline Development Corporation executives, has opened a gas line office in Houston and Japan.
Walker recently added a climate change director to the Executive Office of the Governor at a cost of more than $100,000 per year and today is hosting a climate change conference in Anchorage.
Other executives he has kept in his administration are former Chief of Staff Jim Whitaker, who is now in charge of major projects, and the governor’s campaign manager, (listed as a special assistant), John-Henry Heckendorn, who serves in the dual role of governor’s “body man,” and campaign liaison.
The governor will be hosting a fundraiser at his Anchorage home on Thursday for his re-election and that of Democrat Lieutenant Gov. Byron Mallott.