Governor, facing headwinds, blames Dunleavy for budget


For an hour Monday, the three candidates for governor of Alaska fielded questions relating to the aviation community in Alaska.

At the end of the debate, Gov. Bill Walker and Mark Begich headed for the exits, while Mike Dunleavy stayed for another hour and spoke to the crowd who had gathered around him.

It was a spirited debate for Walker, Begich, and Dunleavy, but it was especially crucial for third-place Walker, who is facing stiff headwinds with voters, and who has an ever-shortened runway approaching the Nov. 6 election. The polls have been unkind to Walker’s prospects of re-election.

Because many of the debate questions were specific to aviators, the answers candidates might give could lead to a major shift in spending and priorities for state government.

Is it the State of Alaska’s role to grow more pilots to address the pilot shortage, the moderator asked? The big-government answer is “Yes, more programs, please,” while the private sector answer is: “This is a job for the private sector to address.” One answer might satisfy a specific group of interests, but there are hundreds of special interest groups with similar needs.

Aside from the aviation focus, candidates had a chance to address each other’s responsibility for the ills of the state.

There was forced hooping and hollering when Walker took a particularly mean-spirited jab at Dunleavy; Walker had brought an entourage with him for support.

Walker said he felt like he was “cleaning up a frat house after a party that I hadn’t been invited to,” and said that Dunleavy was responsible for the mess he took over as governor four years ago because Dunleavy had voted for large budgets year after year.

The governor was blaming someone who was sworn in as a senator in 2013, had served through two sessions, and as one of 20 senators, someone who had never held the veto pen.

The biggest budget in history was before Dunleavy came into office and he ran for Senate on lowering the budget. Every year in office he has advocated for budget cuts to the point where he left the majority caucus in 2017 over what he felt was too large a spend.

Here’s Dunleavy in 2015, arguing with Walker’s Office of Management and Budget Director Pat Pitney, as she tries to say that no more cuts can be made:


  1. The state budget is up 13.4% this year (the year that began July 1) over last year. I suppose Walker would blame that too on Mike Dunleavy. Walker has had the least articulate and least adept OMB Director ever. Her answer in committee hearings to the most fundamental questions is always that she will get back to them. Right through the 2018 session she regularly claims that eliminating positions never filled and never intended to be filled is cutting the budget. How can a 13.4% increase be a cut? How can anyone but Walker be blamed after 4 years? Walker has caused a persistent statewide recession. He has presided over the largest state increase in rates of crime in US history. He has turned in terrible student performance numbers even as he has increased state spending without asking for accountability. Is Walker audacious, clueless or dishonest; or can he be all 3?

  2. Walker is desperate and deranged. The facts around the budget are the reason he is going down, down, down. His misrepresentations are known to be false, but he continues to advance them as if they were true. If he wasn’t so duplicitous, he would simply be pathetic, but he sees falsehoods as truths becuase, as truths, they serve his purposes. The problem for him is that nobody believes his falsehoods.
    Adios Bill Walker and, from my perspective, good riddance!

  3. Pitney: “where does education fit in this priority?”

    How about fixing it?

    We’re 2nd lowest in the nation in student achievement, and 2nd highest in per student spending.
    How about fixing that, by cutting the massive spending on education while raising achievement? Other states have much smaller per student spending without turning out an endless stream of illiterates. Find out how they do it.

  4. SB21 is the reason the state started losing large amounts of revenue.

    Does anyone here remember SB21 and the predicted (and realized) loss of $2 Billion per year in revenue.

    Whether it be Walker, Dunleavy or Begich…this is the real problem that needs to be fixed.

    We don’t need income tax, dividend reductions or budget cuts.

    If we were getting our historical fair share of oil revenue we would not have a budget problem.

    Walker never addressed this issue and instead started wasting hundreds of millions hiring gas line executives and marketing administrators.

    Neither he or Dunleavy fought to end wasteful boondoggles.

    No one has even discussed the effects of SB21, instead choosing to pretend that didn’t happen.

    I haven’t heard Begich discuss SB21 and ending the theft of our resources either.

    At this point, none of the candidates are worthy of any of our votes.

    Unless and until they discuss the cause of the budget problems, as oil is back at
    $80….we should protest them all and demand another candidate that works for Alaskans, not oil companies.

    • I would imagine that Governor Dunleavy will examine oil taxes as every incoming governor has, but Alaska voters affirmed SB 21 in the election of 2014. My opinion is that oil tax changes that are directed at and likely to increase North Slope oil production should always be considered. The North Slope and the pipeline amount to a huge legacy investment and high fixed costs so anything that can increase production benefits everyone. First we have to work hard to make sure Dunleavy actually is elected; then we need to take advantage of having an Alaska friendly and resource development friendly White House. If revisiting SB 21, or any part of it, can help then so much the better. But again, first we need to elect Mike Dunleavy.

    • The reason none of the candidates are talking about repealing SB 21 is because it is working. It paid more to the state over the last 2-3 years than ACES would have. It turned the declining throughput on TAPS into growth, there are now projects in the works that will keep the pipeline viable for another 20-30 years. There is no reason to talk about SB 21, unless it is to talk about how well it is working, people of all political stripes know this.

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