Governor Dunleavy came into office promising to cut expenses to balance our budget. But even if he fired every state employee, he’d still wouldn’t be able to make ends meet.
The FY 2020 budget is due February 13, and even the most conservative Republicans are nervous about what havoc Dunleavy and his hired-gun OMB Director will foist on Alaskans. But if Dunleavy’s recently released supplemental budget is any indication, state services Alaskans rely on are in for some draconian cuts.
Most notably, Dunleavy’s supplemental budget took the radical step of trying to cut the one-time $20 million allocation for education approved by the Legislature last year, despite the fact school districts across the state have already relied on that money in their budgets to hire teachers and buy books.
This from a Governor who declared in his recent State of the State address that “I’m a man who chose education as a career, because I love helping kids and I love learning and teaching.”
Consider this: while education spending is the largest outlay in the state’s budget, the money we pay back to the oil and gas corporations in the form of tax credits, deductions and other subsidies exceeds the amount we spend on kids, teachers and schools.
So, Alaska doesn’t have a revenue problem. We simply have to decide if we want to spend our money on our kids, or keep passing it along to the oil and gas companies.
Senator Bill Wielechowski has introduced a bill this session (Senate Bill 14) to boost Alaska’s coffers by $1-1.5 billion, by eliminating one of the credits against industry’s oil and gas production tax. It won’t fix the entire problem, but it’s a great way to start sharing our oil wealth more fairly.
Governor Dunleavy has repeatedly said he won’t consider some type of broad-based, statewide tax. So, we don’t have many options, unless we want to spend-down the Permanent Fund. If we want to save our education system in Alaska, efforts like SB 14 deserves our serious attention. Because our kids deserve the same opportunities we’ve had.