After conciliatory speech at AFN, Dunleavy attacks Alaska 'special interests' on Fox

Here is what Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Thursday at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention about the state budget: “I will be the first to say, as governor, I must take responsibility for my part in this process and I will work hard to ensure the budget process goes much more smoothly this year. I will make every effort to incorporate the perspective of all Alaskans.”

Here is what Dunleavy said Friday to Neil Cavuto on Fox News about the state budget: “We reduced about $600 million from the budget, about 40 percent of the deficit. And of course, folks that like a larger government, special interests that are tied into government money, they didn’t like this.”

To a greater degree than many politicians, Dunleavy changes his message depending upon his audience. He did it as a candidate. He does it as governor.

His interviews and speeches to Republican groups in Alaska and to right-wing media outlets in Alaska and Outside are filled with complaints about government spending and how “folks on the left” are stopping him from reducing the size of government.

He hinted at none of that in his conciliatory speech at AFN, where he promised to hire 35 new Alaska State Troopers in 2020 and didn’t mention his disdain for special interests.

In the five-minute interview with Fox, which may be part of a continuing audition for a job under the stable genius, Dunleavy repeats the falsehood that the budget he introduced this year reflects his 2018 campaign promises. As I’ve reported here many times, that is not true.

The only budget cuts he promised as a candidate were these: $200 million from the elimination of 2,000 funded but unfilled jobs; $4.5 million from eliminating the fast rail study from Mat-Su to Anchorage; $100 million from combining government insurance programs; $150 million from making Medicaid more efficient; an unidentified amount to be saved by eliminating jobs for “climatologists.”

(That would have been $450 million in cuts with no reduction in services. But there never were 2,000 funded, but unfilled jobs. The $4.5 million rail study was never funded. It is possible that some money can be saved by making programs more efficient. If there is other evidence of specific budget cuts he mentioned as a candidate, I have not found it.)

At various times during his campaign, Dunleavy promised no cuts to the ferry system, Pioneer Homes, the court system, prisons, Troopers, Power Cost Equalization, the prison system, the University of Alaska and K-12 schools.

But he never mentions this record during his interviews with right-wing media.

He told Cavuto he was elected to cut the budget: “So I ran on a platform of having a sustainable budget, improving our public safety efforts and increasing jobs. And these folks actually started to talk about a recall a mere two, two-and-a-half months into my term. And I think it’s really more about the agenda that I was elected on and the agenda I’m actually implementing, that some of the folks on the left don’t agree with, so they’ve started this recall effort and this is where we’re at.”

The recall movement did not begin two months into his term. It began to gain momentum after he announced his vetoes June 28, rejecting the budget decisions of the Legislature and the testimony of thousands of Alaskans.

With the recall growing through the summer, Dunleavy reversed himself on $150 million of vetoes in August. He reversed himself on a majority of the vetoes that actually reduced state operations.

About 50,000 people signed the recall petitions in a little more than a month.

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