By LARRY WOOD
Gov. Michael Dunleavy is facing a critical point in his administration with his forthcoming decisions on the budget.
It is not the next “five minutes” that bothers me nor the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend. It is how the leadership of the Legislature and their supporters perceive the governor’s compromises.
If the $1,600 is it, the door is now open to the Legislature forcing a diminishing PFD.
It is clear, that the Legislature’s priority is preservation of government growth, not a sustainable fiscal solution.
The next three years of the Dunleavy Administration will either be a repeat of this year or a gradual acquiescence by the governor and acceptance of a much reduced agenda towards fiscal stability. Further, I seriously doubt that if the governor concedes this issue to the Legislature without a fight, there will be any chance of reelection.
Governor Mike Dunleavy made significant concessions with his acquiescence in removing the special session from Wasilla to Juneau to end the impasse and prevent the loss of federal matching funds from the capital budget. In making those concessions, he showed leadership and his concern for doing the Peoples’ Business, something the Legislature has seemingly ignored. He has made further concessions in an effort to jump start a dialogue that would result in a plan to achieve the Holy Grail of Alaska politics, fiscal stability.
Given what the Legislature then did in restoring the veto amounts and ignoring any discussion regarding meeting the PFD statutory formula, compromise is absent the Legislature’s collective mind.
If the governor accepts the $1,600 and agrees with the restoration of the funds vetoed, the stage is set for little or no progress towards fiscal stability. Even worse, the Legislature makes no excuse for ignoring the law. The Legislature ignored AS 24.05.100 and, now, the statute governing the PFD formula.
Bucking the governor and the law is of no consequence to the leadership of the Legislature.
The governor will either let these affronts to the supremacy of the law stand, or challenge the Legislature by holding the line on the vetoes and vetoing the PFD amount, and calling for another special session.
What’s at risk is the next three years.
Further, there will be no reelection if the legislative leadership has its way and co-opts the governor’s agenda, replacing it with its own self-serving play to the unbridled government growth supporting plebes and the unions. Once they get into the Permanent Fund, it’s just a matter of time before they spend us into fiscal insolvency.
Dunleavy’s challenge to the University of Alaska produced results demonstrated in the UA’s decision to reorganize and eliminate redundancy in its bureaucracy. Further, the SU system admitted that a 38 percent cost savings would result from consolidating the various engineering disciplines under one dean and staff. Obviously, the savings system wide would be significant were this done to each school eliminating redundancies in staff and management. This would not have happened had Dunleavy not challenged the University with the cuts.
The question is, is this governor going to be satisfied with just that validation of his agenda this first year? Will he now find himself working to achieve over the next three years a mere vestige of what he sold us?
Too many people need the full PFD.
The PFD does accomplish something increasing the size of government does not: It is an infusion directly into the private sector economy and it benefits all Alaskans, something increasing the size of government does not. The money is largely spent here, benefitting the private sector.
Government produces nothing, and simply absorbs capital. It is a necessary evil and inefficient. Yet, the Legislature has put government growth over the welfare of Alaskans and has used our dividends to do so. It’s a tax that penalizes every Alaskan.
I believe that if Dunleavy allows the Legislature to dictate the PFD amount and roll back the vetoes, his administration will be effectively compromised for the rest of his tenure as governor.
I further believe that he will not achieve reelection as a result. Therefore, he has nothing to lose in maintaining his vetoes and challenging the Legislature to meet the statutory PFD formula.
He needs to tighten the straps on his body armor, drink another Gatorade and charge the Legislature’s windmill. Or, quietly concede the loss of this battle, and, ultimately, the “war”, and be just another governor and “get along.”
We elected him to do the former, not the latter.
Larry Wood is a 65 year Alaskan and lives on Lazy Mt. near Palmer.