House Republicans conjure up phony budget statistics

North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson, who once said she doesn't believe in inflation, is wasting valuable state time again with dozens of budget amendments based on her misreading of budget statistics.

To make matters worse, her fellow Republicans on the House Finance Committee—Reps. Steve Thompson, Lance Pruitt and Cathy Tilton—offered unblinking support for amendments that don't make any sense.

For example, Wilson claimed the state could save $1 million by cutting the budget for a communications system used in emergencies.

She said that two years ago the state spent much less on the system and now Gov. Bill Walker wants a big increase. Trouble is, the state did not spend all that much less two years ago and the $1 million savings plan was based on her failure to read the other lines in the budget. 

On item after item, Wilson inaccurately claimed that money in certain categories was not spent two years ago, so the budget this year can be cut.  But the money was spent two years ago.

Just about all of her misguided budget amendments suffered from similar problems and were rejected, with the Democratic-led majority voting "no" and the four minority members voting "yes."  Listen to the hearing if you want to hear this tired excuse for political theater.

After being told she was wrong, Wilson didn't want to hear it. She retreated to her old standby argument—someone else, perhaps local government, should start paying because the state can't afford it, it's not a state priority, etc.

The reality is that departmental budgets are down and Alaskans want state services.

As the GOP House finance expert, Wilson said a year ago that the state could save $210,000 on school bus inspections by getting someone else to pay for them.  She also proposed saving money by eliminating dozens of government jobs that had already been eliminated. A few years ago she said the University of Alaska could save money by not funding research anymore.

The House Republicans talk a good game about budget cuts, but it's no surprise that they can't identify programs to eliminate or explain how to cut $500 million or $1 billion or $2 billion from the budget. All this to continue to pretend that Alaska can continue on its current path without taxes.

Dermot Cole4 Comments