Alaska News

Walker warns Alaska state employees of layoffs ahead

JUNEAU -- As state employees and others await the release of Gov. Bill Walker's budget Thursday, he's warning the employees the proposal will call for reductions in both state services and the public employees providing those services.

Walker said Wednesday his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, beginning July 1, "includes staff reductions and will initiate a challenging, but necessary, discussion among Alaskans."

His comments were made in an email to state employees that went out Wednesday, a day before the budget announcement which is expected to provide more specifics. Walker had previously provided to the Legislature a budget proposal developed by former Gov. Sean Parnell's administration but said that a worsening budget situation required more significant cuts.

He has asked departments to propose cuts of 5 to 8 percent but has not said exactly how big cuts will be.

Unions are bracing for job losses, said Jim Duncan of the Alaska State Employees Association.

He said they'd been told that 300 positions were going to be cut, but some are not filled now.

"It's not clear at this time, and probably won't be clear until April or May, the number of people who will be laid off," he said.


The ASEA has about 9,000 members working for the state.

Given employee turnover, layoffs could be even fewer, depending on individual departments and jobs. In addition, union collective bargaining agreements provide for layoffs to be done by seniority and can include "bumping" rights.

Even so, the final number of job cuts will not be decided by Walker's proposal, he said, but by the full budget process.

"What the governor proposes may very well change," he said.

Walker spokesperson Grace Jang said legislators were getting budget information Wednesday evening, in advance of it being made public Thursday afternoon.

Here's Walker's email: