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.”