Breaking: Budget director Donna Arduin exits - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, August 3, 2020
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Breaking: Budget director Donna Arduin exits

Alaska Budget Director Donna Arduin, who has been the point of the spear on budget reforms for Gov. Michael Dunleavy, will move into an advisory role at the end of the month. But as of this morning, she is no longer the budget director for the State of Alaska.

Arduin was brought in to do the heavy lifting to bring spending in line with revenues. She was told to identify $1.6 billion in budget cuts, and to do so within about six weeks of her boots hitting the ground in Alaska.

Arduin is a nationally respected budget hawk who has helped numerous governors during tough budget times, such as Jeb Bush of Florida and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. She was championed by Alaska fiscal conservatives, and reviled by Democrats. Women Democrats were especially vile, criticizing her on social media for her attire (the fact that she wore sleeveless dresses, an animal skin collar etc. She is the sharpest dresser in Juneau.)

She cleaned house at the Office of Management and Budget, getting rid of all the Walker Administration appointees, and she and the staff did the job she was asked to do, and endured a lot of abuse by the Legislature and the Left, particularly those who were ushered out with Walker. At one point, the threats against Arduin became so personal that the door to the Office of Management and Budget in Juneau was locked for safety of the employees.

Arduin, who has national prominence, arguably can be described as having sacrificed more on Dunleavy’s behalf than anyone in his administration. She was the person that the Left could and did attack because she was from “Outside” Alaska; she became the scapegoat for the policies of the Dunleavy Administration.

Her hiring last December was a sign that Dunleavy was serious about budget cuts. Her departure signals that the Dunleavy Administration is tacking to the middle, and that future budgets will not be as Draconian — if there are cuts at all.

But this change in OMB may also signal that Dunleavy has taken all the pressure he can take over cuts, as he faces a serious recall campaign from the Left.

Arduin leaves the Administration two weeks after former Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock resigned. He had been moved into the role of senior advisor a couple of weeks before his resignation.

Joe Geldhof, who has been a supporter of the governor’s campaign promise to restore the Permanent Fund dividend, told Must Read Alaska “based on my observations and experience working with individuals tasked with building budgets in Alaska and in the federal government, I can say without reservation Arduin is both skilled and significantly better at assembling budget proposals for consideration by the governor than most Alaska OMB directors since 1979, when I started paying attention.”

“Donna Arduin was given a job consistent with campaign promises and more importantly tasked with recommending budget reductions consistent with revenues received by the State of Alaska. She did a remarkably good job at pulling together a crew on short notice and delivering recommendations on where and how to cut,” Geldhof said. “Was the work perfect? Naturally no, but it was significantly better than the usual run-of-the-mill budget proposals many of us have witnessed for decades in Alaska, which pretty much amount to gimmicks for spending money from savings accounts.”


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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Seems about right. I think she did the “identifying” and set things in motion. She went through the budget and did what she needed to do. Advising from the background seems appropriate at this juncture.
    Let another take the director role and deal with that day to day dodging of the left’s garbage.

  • I was wondering who was going under the recall bus next…
    Maybe the Republican party has hope for Alaska’s future after all?
    I guess the big question is how much does this “advisory position” pay Ms. Arduin?
    Switching titles helps but getting paid a six figure salary to work from out of state does not fully solve the problem.

    • So Steve, you OK then with the six figure pays multiple U of A Admin pukes get? For what bang for the buck?
      Donna got the bucks for her background, knowledge and abilities, not to mention hazardous duty pay!
      She did and I’m sure will continue doing a great job for the Governor and for us, We the People whom have been screwed by way too many legislatures and past Governors not holding the line and ensuring the departments, policies and programs actually had a need and fulfilled their mission statements and intent!

      • Mike Coons is 100% on target. UAF Administrators are a bunch of freeloaders, making 200K/yr. Athletic Director gets 280K/yr. This is called: WASTE!

  • WE all need to be thanking her and the Governor for their service and hope Ms. Arduin has left a lot of notes and a plan for the Governor to carry through on for the rest of his term and his next term as well…

  • Thank you for the update. However, if I may point out an error, the recall effort is not a left issue. Those backing Recall Dunleavy come from all political leanings as well as the apolitical. To say it is a left issue is misstatement and diminishes the voices of those of other ideologies and those with no political affiliation at all.

    Again, thank you.

    Steve Handy

    • Nope Steve, the Recall effort is decidedly a left issue. Those demonstrators that came up during the second special session, were paid for socialist from George Soros. The people supporting like Kowehie (sp) that is running as a “republican” against David Eastman is a known leftist based on his actions and votes in the Matsu Borough Assembly.
      Nope Steve, we know whom the enemy is, we call them and you out every day. Not to mention the recall will never fly since the criteria isn’t even close to matching the Constitutional requirements for a recall!

    • No error. The left always tries to misrepresent what it really intends and then says it was an error and surely everybody agrees.

      It is a dishonest way to co-opt the conversation…

  • The “left”? Like Usibelli and Sturgulewski? Calling Arliss Sturgulewski liberal is ridiculous.

    • Arliss hasn’t been a Republican for years. She reregistered as nonpartisan.

  • That is a stupid move she should be retained to complete what she was hired for but I guess the Democrats succeed again with derailing the Dunleavy goals for cutting the state operating budget

  • Sounds like this was one ‘outsider’ sorely needed in Ak and I sincerely hope the impetus she brought with her is not lost!!

  • Many of us have great hopes for Gov. Dunleavy but fear he may have feet of clay. Backing up just gives hope to those who voted against him anyway and cannot accept the results of the election. The recall is a scam to try and herd fools to the Democrat Party who ran a high school graduate against Dunleavy for governor.

    • It is worth recalling that in 1994 newly re-elected Governor Wally Hickel, with Lt. Governor Jack Coghill by his side, started out with all sorts of notions about re-directing and down-sizing State government. Like the current times, this produced an uproar. Not long thereafter, some of the hard-nosed, including Administration Commissioner Millet Keller departed and Lt. Governor Coghill was placed in “time-out.” My assessment was that Governor Hickel, in his “rebound” term as Governor, simply wanted to be loved. Nothing much of significance happened after that. We will see if Governor Dunleavy follows a similar path. I hope not.

  • Once again the Dunleavy Administration creates a high paid adviser position. The recall is going forward, Dunleavy should just do what he has done in the past when the heat starts to be applied, resign! Think about the cost savings to the SOA, impeachment elections cost money!

    • Bulvarian Scatology!

  • Not a leftist, but I signed. Keep your blinders on if they give you comfort..

  • Backing up on an issue like this is rather suicidal…ya lose a lot of support when ya do….

  • Alas, poor Donna, sent adrift on the sea of conservative disasters that were of her making, now merely a “consultant”, shielded from scrutiny and, based upon our governor”s use of such, blushingly drreaming of a six-figure income.

    This was a disaster from the start. And there was history. California. Kansas, and now, Alaska. This is a woman who deals in a vampire ideology that refuses to die. Cut, and cut, and cut, and you shall be saved. Suck out all the blood that has been arduously (no pun intended, but it works nicely) acquired and then, when you get to zero, you will arrived at the promised land. No taxes, no schools, no public university, no health care for the aged or disaffected, no public lands, no public media, no public nothing…

    Or is it just the rich who get to the promised land?

    • Excellent post…

    • She got a good deal on a beautiful home in Petoskey. Us riff raff can go visit sometimes.

  • At the end of the day, the challenge still remains … rein in the irresponsible and reckless SOA spending. Without the likes of Donna Arduin, who will have the courage and will power to lead the charge and accomplish the mission?
    Donna Arduin will be sorely missed, as well as her talents and contribution to solving Alaska’s incessant spending habit.

    • Good points.
      Why was this change implemented?

  • Real courage would be to can the PFD. It’s turned into a subsidy just for breathing. Straight from the progressive playbook. Time to change the darn formula. That takes real courage.

    • Totally agree. Find another avenue to address the mineral rights, etc., but stop the subsidy. Among the intellectually brilliant lawyers f*rting around out there, surely there might be one that could figure it out. The Zobels surely won their case,that in my humble opinion, contributed to the conundrum we are in today.

  • If the year over year budget was cut by even one penny in this state her salary was worth it. There are so many more government entitled leaches here than in any other state it is shocking.

    Thanks for the help with our overspending ways Donna, Hopefully you have paved the way and will advise where and when needed.

    • Yep, Alaska does have plenty of leeches. politicians, consultants, employees, corporations, students, and every Alaskan that receives a PFD.

  • Today, September 16, I saw at least three street sweepers/washers backing up traffic on the two-lane Old Glenn Highway between Birchwood and Peters Creek while it was raining. We have several weeks before winter conditions set in. This is just one small example of burning money for what, in my humble opinion? Ridiculous! Time to cut the budget to the bone if this is an example of how revenues are being spent. Whose palms are being greased in that escapade?

    Don’t even think of an income tax to fund a PFD for every man, women, and child that shows up in this state before excessive spending is addressed.

    • Dunleavy needs to hire a consultant to hold his DOT Commissioner accountable for failing to manage his department.

      • Humbly, management and accountability are the qualities that are so deficient in government these days. So very true, what you said. I wish it wouldn’t take a consultant to uphold those basic values of management principles and practices. Who teaches them in this day and age? They should be values of anyone appointed to these positions that you and I as ordinary folks so depend upon for our trust. Best to you.

        • If you looked really hard you might be able to find a broader brush.

      • Yes. No leadership in the DOT. The design and management is terrible. It seems they are all on vacation.

        • What is the job of the Governor and the Commissioner he appointed? Where does the buck stop? Why do you need a consultant when you have a former leader of AGC in charge? What would the consultants background be? Another management position? That just screams savings.

          • My comment about Dunleavy needed to hire a consultant was sarcastic. I don’t think he could manage his way out of a cardboard box. Just like Tony Knowles, aka Task Force Tony, who appointed hacks to task forces, to study issues to death. Dunleavy, just opens the state checkbook.

  • Typical reactions out there. Donna is no different than the Doctor who tells his patient that he/she is dying from alcoholism and poor diet. The Good Doctor devises a diet that does not include Alcohol. The patient rebells and calls the Doctor into question and publicly denounces the medical profession.
    Later the foolish patient dies of his abusive lifestyle.
    Thank you Donna.

    • No different than the pediatrician that wants to put every little boy she sees on Ritalin. One size fits all, never got to know the “patient”.

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