Gov. Bill Walker said that he and his cabinet have wrestled the state's fiscal crisis to the ground. I have been following what has happened over the course of this administration, and I am tired of all the misinformation coming out of the governor's office.
Yes, the Legislature funded a general fund operating budget for fiscal 2019 that is reported to be slightly less than when Gov. Walker took office. However, much of that reduction is simply due to deferring costs to the future (such as with tax credits) and changing the designation of some revenues (for example, the insurance tax), so it is no longer reported in the general fund budget. Where is the reduction in this?
The governor bases much of his fiscal success on the passage of Senate Bill 26, which sets out a percent-of-market-value approach for making expenditures from the Permanent Fund. He claims that this bill reduces the budget deficit and preserves the Permanent Fund and the dividend program. Unfortunately, it does none of this.
SB 26 creates exactly zero dollars in new revenue for the state of Alaska. The POMV provisions and the dividend formula in the bill have no more legal effect in preserving the Permanent Fund or dividend than would an agreement handwritten between the governor and legislators on the back of a cocktail napkin. The Alaska Supreme Court has already ruled that due to the non-dedication provision in Alaska's Constitution, a statute cannot control appropriations from the earnings of the Permanent Fund.
This legal theory was vigorously argued by Gov. Walker's administration, so he can scarcely take credit for SB 26, which based on his past behavior his Department of Law would argue as ineffective and unenforceable.
No new revenues, no substantive structural changes to government or spending; just what can he take credit for on the fiscal side? Oh, maybe he's responsible for $80-per-barrel oil.
Alaska deserves better. It's time for a change. I am supporting Mike Dunleavy.
— Barbara Burnett
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