Thursday, September 28, 2023
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No, state pink slips will not go out June 1

The Alaska Legislature is not going to finish its work on the State of Alaska budgets before the end of the month, and without an operating budget, pink slips could be issued on June 1 for a government shutdown July 1.

That’s how the Walker Administration handled it twice during similar legislative delays, as he used “fear theater” to try to harass the Republican-led Legislature.

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But there will be no pink slips on Tuesday. They are not required and there’s no evidence the Legislature won’t get its work done.

By law, the Dunleavy Administration must give workers 10 working days notice if the government is likely to shut down. That day would be June 17. The special session ends June 18.

This is not to say that supervisors in the State won’t let workers know on Tuesday that the budget hasn’t been finalized, but since the budget is really on the five-yard line, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has not seen it helpful to jack up the workforce. Nor is it his way to play the games that Walker played.

Both sides — House and Senate — are close on the Operating and Capitol budgets, and the Permanent Fund dividend will be reconciled, although not to the satisfaction of many. The way the budget bill has been designed this year, with everything crammed into one budget, has just made the whole thing trickier.

Sending out the “fear theater” pink slips resulted in needless harm in 2015 and 2016. It caused workers to become distracted, and many did something that seemed rational to them at the time — they rushed to their doctors and dentists to get work done just in case they were out of work and out of benefits. The run on medical services caused the state to have to pay enormous medical costs that year as an unintended consequence.

The House and Senate conference committee is hashing out the differences between the two budgets, but have no meetings on the schedule over the Memorial Day weekend. Work is planned for Tuesday.

The State is awash in money from the American Rescue Plan Act, but that is not a comfort for the tens of thousands of state workers who are hearing from the media that they might get laid off.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


  1. Don’t remember a bunch of the “too many” state employees getting laid off in the past couple times this scare tactic took place. Would be great if there would be a 10% cut from every department but don’t see that happening either.

  2. I agree with personnel cuts, but not with a meat clever. An across the border cut is very harmful to agencies already working shorthanded (DOC for one) and wouldn’t affect others (DOA or DMV) in the least. Use targeted cuts, identify redundancies and duplication of jobs, consolidate and become leaner. All business is now working “lean” and has for years. The State can too.

  3. Doubtless the unions and democrats are feeding the story that “lay-offs are imminent” to their members and the LSM. They’re putting it out to gin up the union & democrat base to make Gov. Dunleavy look bad. The longer the budget takes to pass, the more the recall folks hit the streets and RINO’s like NVI feel Dunleavy is vulnerable.

  4. The PFD account topped 80 Billion dollars yesterday for the first time ever. Alaskans must stop falling for politicians lies. People like Micciche that promised to protect the full PFD and enshrine it into the state constitution to get elected – turns around and votes Against it. The 50/50 split is not perfect, but it is much better than nothing. Getting it into the constitution should be our main objective so it will protect it from politicians that LY to their constituents to get what they want. Move the legislature to the road system – stop paying $300 a day periderm.
    Politicians in Alaska MUST be held responsible for their lies!

  5. If they were laid off, they would have gotten back pay for being on vacation, let’s get real.

  6. The public employee unions learned long ago how to deal with this – at the first sign of pending lay-offs, they all cease productivity so the State can’t figure out who is essential and who isn’t. Cut the budget, fill the pipeline.

  7. Does anyone remember Dunleavy talking about furloughing state workers while the private sector was fighting for its life?


  8. I just wish they would quit messing with the dividend. Walker was a nightmare agent of the CCP and an unprecedented disaster for Alaska, time for scorched earth politics against those who associated with and capitulated to the Walker administration.

  9. Truly? The media, unless they have info that no one else has, should shut up and keep their nose out of the business of government. They are there to report facts, not conjecture!!!

  10. Cut every agency by 25%, across the board, and reap the benefits … efficiencies and savings. Private industry has to make similar cuts and learns to adapt – survive just fine. Ultimately, its long over due at the State level.
    I’m sure there will be some arguing … “you can’t cut that fast, that hard, that deep with your favorite instrument (meat cleaver, chainsaw, etc.) but, in reality “yes you can” all it takes is courage and will power.
    Ask yourself, if we continue to fund State Gun’ment, do you get any true value for those dollars expended?
    … do the roads get any better?
    … do the kids get any smarter?
    … does the line at the DMV get any shorter and quicker?
    … do a majority of the folks receiving aid from social services ever get weaned off?
    If the answer is “no” then, why continue to throw precious dollars at these State agencies with no accountability?

  11. Cut all funding to the Lame legislators. They got payed for two months before they did Anything.

  12. Giving a layoff notice can be used as a scare tactic, both against the public and the employees, but most of the contracts require the State to “make every effort” to give 30 days notice and firmly require ten days notice. The layoff processes are arcane and it takes a lot of work to decide who gets laid off if there is, say, a 5% cut in the personal services budget. Layoff notices for a government shutdown are easier since everyone gets one. Unlike the federal government, for which shutdowns are largely a charade, if there is not an operating budget at 12:01 AM on July 1st, the government of the State of Alaska ceases to exist because there is no way to pay anybody. The State has always banked on police, fire, jail, and other essential employees coming to work, but has no power to make them if it can’t pay them.

    There are rumors of an AG’s opinion from some years ago that says that the Governor can keep the workforce working if there is a reasonable expectation that funds are forthcoming. I’ve never seen it and I have grave doubts as to its viability if it indeed exists. Rest assured that if a Republican Governor told the unions that it expected employees to keep working even though there was no budget with which to pay them, they’d be at the courthouse forthwith, and no Republican governor should expect any support in the Superior Courts. In a Democrat administration, the Governor and the unions will have a charade worked out where at least the essential employees would keep working and when a budget was passed large sums of money would be paid out in penalty pay for late pay checks, damages for unpaid overtime, and any number of other schemes the shakedown artists can figure out.

    The last time targeted layoffs due to budget cuts were done was back in the early days of the Cowper Administration. The only people left in State human resources and labor relations that may have been in government back then were so junior that they wouldn’t have had anything much to do with it, so if it had to deal with decrements in personal services, the State would have to essentially reinvent the processes.

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