Yes, Dunleavy did contradict himself on education cuts

I was dismayed to read a story on KTVA’s website in which Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s press secretary claims that the governor didn’t contradict himself on education funding.

Matt Shuckerow, who has lots of practice manufacturing dubious comments for politicians, knows that this is the wrong way to treat Alaskans.

The state budget is contentious enough that we don’t need state employees lying to Alaskans about statements that are on the record and easy to find.

This week Dunleavy proposed the largest education cuts in state history, reductions that would cripple school districts and the University of Alaska.

This contradicts what he promised during his campaign. There is no question about this.

The story by KTVA included quotes from Dunleavy during KTVA debates before the primary election and before the general election in which Dunleavy said he did not plan to cut education funding or University of Alaska funding.

Rather than admit that Dunleavy has changed his public utterances, Shuckerow is trying his hand at fabrication.

“The statements made during the campaign and the budget proposed yesterday are not in conflict,” Shuckerow told the TV station. It’s a good thing he wasn’t speaking under oath.

Shuckerow should admit the obvious and announce that he meant to say, “The statements made during the campaign and the budget proposed yesterday are in conflict.”

The rest of Shuckerow’s statement to KTVA is equally disingenuous, blaming former Gov. Bill Walker for “wishful thinking” about oil prices at $75.

It wasn’t Walker’s fault that Dunleavy said during a Sept. 6 appearance in Juneau that oil was $74 a barrel and there was no need for gigantic budget cuts.

"Today it's at $74 a barrel. You don't need to cut a billion dollars today, in today's environment. What we need to do is make sure that we get the budget down somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 billion and then that, if we do that, we could sustain a budget growing at about $70, $80 million a year,” Dunleavy said.

Earlier in August, he told the Anchorage Daily News that with “oil at about $70 a barrel, we may not have to cut like we had to or we envisioned a few years ago when oil was at $26 a barrel. If we can contain the size of the operating budget, contain its growth — again to 2 percent a year — we could grow ourselves out of this.”

In late October, Sen. Anna MacKinnon, whose husband John is now transportation commissioner, said oil prices were looking great. “Oil prices have averaged more than $78 per barrel, well above the official forecast of $63. If prices hold, the state should finish the year with a surplus. Unlike what Mark Begich says, now is not the time to tax Alaskans,” she said.

Dunleavy and his staff need to stop the lame effort to rewrite this bit of recent history.

Dermot Cole4 Comments