Dunleavy starts with budget discipline - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Dunleavy starts with budget discipline

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.

Read: Administrative Order 302

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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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

  • He said he’d be ready to go the first day in office. Apparently he meant what he said.
    The leaks are not a problem. Might as well get the criticism out of the way before the legislature convenes. Incoming fire is to be expected when establishing a beachhead.

    • He doesn’t care. Go in hot and take care of business. That is exactly what he was elected to do. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got! Governor Dunleavy knows that so he’s doing things differently. Alaska…It’s time for a different result!

  • Sounds like a nice, streamlined way to go. This isn’t the first time this idea has been floated. This will tighten up the purse. Why not DMVA? The military component with all the additional federal dollars too hot to handle? Next start consolidating all these onesy twosey pocket offices that are being leased around the State. Convenient for people? Yes. Expensive? Heck yes! I hope their team is taking a good look at some of these and take the scalpel to them – either ditch them or parcel them to other, existing locations.

  • So a new governor has less then 2 weeks to come up with a budget?

    • I think that is correct. There is a process for submitting an amended version of the Governor’s budget some time down the line. This year, the amendments to the budget will likely be very significant.

  • I believe that to be true. Statutorily Dec. 15 is the drop-dead date for budget submittal; therefore, when it is a year for an incoming new administration, it’s tight. Walker left a draft to play with which clearly needed changing, so this crew went to work on it – and fast. I’m sure the coffee pot is on 24-7 right now. The old budget was pulled from the web (which for some reason really irritated bloggers on other sites as they cried about the lack of access to public information? Really?) but, I digress. Yes, JMARK the amendments will abound. Rep. Tammie Wilson will co-chair House Finance. If you’ve never watched her in action you are missing out (all meetings can be found on BASIS when the session starts). I bet her household budget is something to behold! I’d like her to take control of mine!

  • This is an excellent move and will give all the ASDs opportunity to ensure they aren’t duplicating efforts and are as efficient as possible. It also helps to ensure projects that are critical to some department operations, but run by another, are getting proper attention.

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