OMB TEAM: LAURA CRAMER, MIKE BARNHILL, ED KING, MICAELA FOWLER
In order to get Alaska’s budget under control, it’s important to have a cohesive budget team.
This week, Gov. Mike Dunleavy took the first big step — bringing budget directors for all the departments under the direction of his Office of Management and Budget, so they can work on policy together as a group.
Budget officers in the departments will remain in their departments and report to their commissioners, but policy budget people will be part of a new team in the Governor’s Office.
The news was first leaked to James Brooks, a political reporter for the Anchorage Daily News.
Donna Arduin, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, will direct the work of the budget team.
It’s the only way to really get a quick budget ready before the statutory deadlines. The first deadline is Dec. 15, when the budget is due.
If the Dunleavy OMB team can’t produce a budget in this one week that it has, it will have to submit the as-is Walker budget with a note that says the document is only a placeholder. Budget amendments are expected to be significant.
Normally, the budgeting process starts immediately after the last budget is signed into office. But Dunleavy is, it appears, putting the budget process into overdrive.
The administrative order that consolidates budget functions and puts the new OMB director in the driver’s seat to restructure the state budget makes Alaska’s budget structure similar to how it’s done in several states, including Florida, California, and New York. Quite often these budget teams in governors’ offices are large — at times in the hundreds of people for states with very large budgets.
The new work group, composed of administrative services directors, started working together on Friday. All the positions except one were already in Juneau, and that one, for the Department of Public Safety, will be relocated to Juneau.
The OMB leadership team also includes Laura Cramer, deputy director for OMB (and former chief of staff to Sen. Anna MacKinnon); Mike Barnhill, policy director (and former deputy commissioner of Administration under Gov. Bill Walker); and Ed King, chief economist. Micaela Fowler, a long-time political insider from Juneau, is a policy analyst.
Arduin is also closely dovetailing her work with Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman to make sure the budget matches expected revenues.
Those administrative services directors who are now part of the Governor’s Office include these partially exempt employees:
Gov. Dunleavy had not signed the administrative when it was leaked to the media. Complaints from those used to controlling budget information without working as a team with the Governor’s Office leaked the restructuring to opposition bloggers, who are sharpening their knives to slice at the new administration.
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