Dunleavy announces 4 cabinet officials, including crucial budget director appointment

JUNEAU — Donna Arduin is a little bit jet-lagged, but she’s ready to work.

On Monday, Arduin, president of the financial consulting firm Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics, was one of four officials named by Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy for his new cabinet. Arduin will serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The other three appointments:

Jonathan Quick, chief of staff to Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, as commissioner of the Department of Administration.

Adam Crum, executive vice president of Northern Industrial Training, as commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services.

Jason Brune, Cook Inlet Region Inc.'s senior director of land and resources, as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

[Demboski says she’s leaving Anchorage Assembly to take job in Dunleavy administration]


The four follow the appointment of John MacKinnon as commissioner of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Corri Feige for the Department of Natural Resources and Tamika Ledbetter for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

As Arduin’s name was announced by press release, she was settling into a transition office six floors below the Juneau headquarters of the Office of Management and Budget.

“I’ve done this many times before in other states. It’s what I’m passionate about,” she said of budget work.

Arduin was living in northern Michigan when she got the call from Dunleavy, she said, and she was fewer than 48 hours removed from her arrival when the governor-elect announced her appointment.

Arduin has a reputation as a budget fixer for Republican governors. She was deputy director of the budget for Michigan Gov. John Engler in the early 1990s, then joined New York Gov. George Pataki in 1995. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush named her his budget director after he won election in 1998.

She moved across the country in 2003, becoming budget director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but left that job after 11 months of shepherding the celebrity governor’s then-new administration.

In 2005, she joined Arthur Laffer, an adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and created Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics. Laffer is known as the father of supply-side economics.

As a consultant, she has advised Republicans across the country, including Florida’s Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.

In her various roles, she has favored libertarian and Republican approaches to fiscal policy, including broad tax and spending cuts.

Her approach has garnered critics. In California, legislators were outraged by proposals to cut social services, and in Florida, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune published a detailed story in 2014 focused on controversial work performed by her firm.

Talking Monday, Arduin said she has worked all over the country, but Alaska has an advantage in that it is a relatively new state, and it is easier to change things.

"Alaska has some unique opportunities to build some things anew," she said.

She said she is familiar with states that have drastic fluctuations in revenue, thanks to her experience with California’s income tax system.

She said she wants to change the state’s “structural deficit” and provide fiscal stability.

Summed up, that goal is straightforward: “Have predictability for dividends and those who rely on state money every year,” she said.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.