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Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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Nervous Nellies go after the budget director

BY ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET

Anybody could see it coming. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s new budget director has the usual suspects more than a little nervous and they are wringing their hands and questioning her budget-cutting ways and previous connections to the private prison industry.

Dunleavy brought Donna Arduin aboard to run the Office of Management and Budget and help with the state’s $1.6 billion operating budget gap. She has a long history of successful budget work under difficult circumstance in other states.

None of that is good for the big-government crowd. Democrats fret about her work history, her business connections and whether she is setting public policy by cutting the budget. They wonder whether lawmakers should be able to confirm her to the position as they do with other top jobs in governors’ administrations.

Their real fear, of course, is that she will do what she was hired to do: cut government to the bone, and that does not sit well.

After Dunleavy trimmed $20 million from the education budget last week, Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, suggested in a news conference covered by the Juneau Empire that the cut likely was Arduin’s.

“I don’t necessarily blame the governor for doing that,” Olson said. “I think the OMB director’s the one with the hatchet out there. And it’s a hatchet, not a scalpel.”

With a $1.6 billion deficit, Alaska is far beyond the need for a budgetary scalpel. Dunleavy promised a balanced budget, and what is needed – and has been needed for umpteen years – is a fiscal hatchet to make spending come into line with revenue.

Despite lamentations from budgetary nervous Nellies, if that is what Arduin brings to the table, good for her.

Nervous nellies and Donna Arduin

 

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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

  • There are plenty of people with an R behind their name that are more than happy to keep spending levels falsely high.

  • Maybe the Budget Director will require the Alaska Municipal League to return the group’s $602,098,138.29 “Investment Pool” of taxpayers’ money to the State Treasury. (http://www.amlip.org/)
    .
    Think about that: $1.6 billion minus $602,098,138.29
    .
    If that is what Arduin brings to the table, good for us!

    • What is this “taxpayers money” you speak so frequently of?

      Maybe the budget director will start delivering public services with pixie dust and unicorn farts.

      Or are we not going to have public services any more?

  • Replace “cut government to the bone” with “cut education and health care to the bone” and is it so surprising that decent non-partisan folks are concerned? When individuals lose a major source of income their first response is not to stop eating, sending their kids to the doctor, or supporting their education. They try to get another job. We need a revenue solution. Up to this point Dunleavy has refused to be specific about the cuts he would make to balance the budget. He knows these cuts will be very unpopular with a majority of Alaskans.

    • The only cuts that would be unpopular to the “… majority of Alaskans” would be cuts to criminal justice, law enforcement, and road maintenance. Any other cuts would be unpopular with unionized public employees, unionized teachers, and the healthcare racket. That is the troika that bought itself a Governor and a HOR majority to protect the operating budget from cuts during the Walker regime. The troika lost their Governor and can’t yet form a HOR Majority, so the troika’s lackeys and their three quisling Republicans are in full blown “RESIST” mode, with a lot of help from the State workforce as well. There are only a very limited number of moves in the RESIST game they’re playing; the Governor will blink, enough legislators will blink to form a Majority, or the Session ends with no budget and no approved labor agreements and we go careening towards thousands of layoff notices on June 1st and thousands of actual layoffs and a genuine government shutdown at 12:01 AM on July 1st when the entire State government has no money to run on. Even if they do manage to organize and put together some sort of budget, the marine unions are working on expired contracts and can strike to try to get a wage increase or some desired conditions pretty much at their leisure and the sweetheart contracts that Walker gave three unions including the 8000-odd members of the General Government Unit need a nearly $200 Million increment to avoid paying for their negotiated wage increases without layoffs. Failure to give them that increment could be construed as a disapproval of these contracts and we could have a major work stoppage after July 1st even with a budget. There are only a handful of people still on this planet who’ve ever even seen significant labor strife under State law; none of us work for the State anymore except University President Jim Johnsen, and I’d suspect he wouldn’t take the pay cut to do Executive Branch labor relations work again, and I doubt any of the others of us would volunteer for what would likely be a suicide mission. Plus, somebody might have to use a little rough language with some union leaders and Democrats to get through this contretemps.

      • You think current and prospective UA students (and their future employers), patients dependent on student-funded health care, parents of children in public schools AND their extended family members don’t care about the massive cuts to education and health care that would be necessary to balance the budget? We’ll see.

        • I’ve never seen an employer specifically seeking out a UA grad for anything other than teachers and that is really just code for saying they want Native teachers for rural schools. Other than some specialized STEM programs, where UA actually does some good, it provides extended babysitting to keep kids out of the job market awhile, it provides useless, often harmful, continuing education to teachers so they can get paid more, and it provides something like education to welfare mommies using other people’s money so they can avoid real work.

          I’ve taken classes at UAS and my daughter is an alumna of UAS. I was a single parent during her college time and I couldn’t afford to send her Outside to school or I would have. If they have any way to afford it, Alaska’s best and brightest go Outside to school and few ever come back unless they have a personal/family situation to plug into. In my daughter’s case the computer lab work she did for student financial aid was far more beneficial to her than the academic work, which was mostly leftist brainwashing.

          The UA has more overhead than a coalmine and mostly provides sinecures to failed and former Democrat politicians. The best way to fund most higher education for Alaskans would be for the State to buy each HS graduate a ferry ticket south.

          As to publicly funded healthcare, the system is rife with fraud, waste, abuse, and monopoly/oligopoly pricing. Let the federal government pick up the tab for its Constitutional responsibility in rural Alaska. We have “health care administrators” making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for doing nothing more than passing around other people’s money. In my time with the State I did my best to avoid having anything to do with DHSS; it is where competence goes to die.

          So, yeah, there’s be the usual bands of parasites and malcontents singing songs and carrying signs outside the Capitol and State offices. Hopefully the Governor and the Legislature will have the guts to ignore them. As you say, “we’ll see.”

          • As you, yourself, acknowledge, paying students to go Outside for their education would just heighten problems with brain drain in this state. I’d invite you to call up the alumni offices at UAF, UAA, or UAS and allow them to give you a clearer picture of what alums are actually doing for their communities in Alaska. If you really are Art Chance, then as Dunleavy’s original pick for senior policy advisor, it is troubling to think that your views may reflect the administration’s estimation of the value of state-funded education. The message I glean from your posts is this: “there are problems with the administration of these programs (and the interests that back them), so we should burn them all to the ground.” And replace them with what? What’s the alternative that’s going to be better for the 50,000 people relying on the Medicaid expansion or for most UA students who can’t afford to go out of state and who have already had to pay increasing tuition prices over the last four years due to cuts? I assume that the cuts proposed tomorrow will also significantly impact K-12 education. Even if these sectors are poorly administrated, what can you offer that’s better? Or are you and Dunleavy’s people hard-core libertarians? If so, I’m happy to debate the merits of that flawed political ideology. I suspect that in the end Dunleavy simply aims by means of privatization to reward the outside interests that funded his campaign. But I honestly don’t care what motivates his positions (or those he’s opposed to for that matter). Just show me why some alternative is better on its own merits.

  • With respect, JP, why not replace ““cut education and health care to the bone” with:

    “slash the education-industry budget and start over by contracting out education management and teaching to another country or an American school district recognized for rigorous academic excellence, and

    require complete transparency for Alaska’s medical-dental-pharmaceutical-lobbyist-insurance-government cartel so productive Alaskans can understand why a two-tier (Indian Health Service versus everybody else) cartel is necessary, what services and products should actually cost and why.”
    .
    Again, with respect, damn any “revenue solution” until our House of So-Called Representatives gets its bloody act together, stops sabotaging the governor, and commissions a forensic audit of State finances and management practices to figure out how much money the Establishment actually gobbles up, where it goes, and what can be returned to our State Treasury.
    .
    Not sure how one can be decent and non-partisan… Choices seem limited to supporting the Party of Hillary Clinton, Baby Butchery, and Metastatic Government Growth, or not…

    • It’s time for people to get real.

      I voted for Dunleavey and Telarico. I voted for Buchanan back in 1996. I’m undoubtedly to the right of you Morrigan.

      The House can’t even form a caucus and will be facing down a face melting budget next week and Governor Dunleavey has proposed 3 Constitutional Ammendments requiring a 2/3rds majority to pass and sent his OMB director who hasn’t been outside of Juneau to be his face on the issue.

      That’s not representing me.

      Worshiping at the feet of international corporations isn’t “right wing” and Ayn Rand is dead.

  • @JP; the thread is getting too skinny.

    You throw up the usual binary choices that arrogant lefties throw up, and especially arrogant lefties who fancy themselves educators throw up. If you’ve ever done anything other than stand in front of a class full of people younger and less educated than you, you know that there are very, very few binary choices in life; fight or flee is about it.

    Your saying I would burn them to the ground is just lefty cant. That’s just another stupid lefty binary choice; there are many alternatives to the shit show that is K-12 education, the UA, and publicly funded healthcare. The pig ignorant left forces the binary choice; it must be done their way or it is the end of the world and the advocates of any other way are knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing troglodytes.

    I would burn the REAAs to the ground; they’re just a patronage machine. If the area doesn’t make a local revenue contribution, the State runs the schools. I don’t have any illusions about the State’s competence, but it is greater than the competence of State tourists who go from conference to conference with other people’s money.

    You’re not worth this many keystrokes because nothing I say will cause you to become anything other than a mind-numbed lefty, so there is no reason to bother. And, yes, I did have a flirtation with being a part of the Dunleavy administration, but it would not have been a happy relationship; I’ve actually dealt with the bad guys that try to influence government, they have yet to learn about that.

    • Thanks for the keystrokes even though I am so unworthy. Ha ha! To bad I’m incapable of learning from your great wisdom.

      I was simply inviting you to suggest what you’d replace these state institutions with. Still waiting! No binary thinking as far I can tell. I honestly want to know what you’d propose to replace what would be decimated by Dunleavy’s budget. (Oh, and I’m sorry but I don’t know what REAAs are.)

      I don’t deny that there’s administrative bloat at UA (and probably many other agencies). (Would I like to see UA statewide eliminated? I give a tentative “yes”.) But I just don’t see Dunleavy’s budget helping much with that. Administrators protect themselves in the end whether they are running a private company or state institution (and I don’t see Dunleavy with his cabinet setting a different example in that regard, by the way).

      It’s those faculty and staff who have the most contact with students who get cut, not the senior administrators and their staff. It’s students who will be strapped with debt or priced out of college by the dramatically increased tuition; they will suffer from a less robust liberal arts education and a significantly narrower range of program choices, and won’t be able to study close to home at an extension campus, etc.

      I believe in making a college education accessible and affordable to first-generation college students. UA with all its flaws does that. I don’t see viable alternatives available that will serve the large number of such students in Alaska.

      My question about whether these policies are borne out of a libertarian ideology was an honest one. Arduin by her own accounts appears to be philosophically libertarian and what little Dunleavy has said reinforces such a view (like requiring a vote of the people before any tax). I think we owe each other more than non-interference and reparations when intentionally harmed; that doesn’t make me a leftist.

    • I absolutely LOVE IT when Art chance silences the Lefties with intelligent retort.

      • Have to agree. Suzanne gets some superb writers in her corner. Makes MRAK stand out. Democrats read MRAK and are just flustered.

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