Advice to lawmakers: Scrap the Dunleavy budget and start over

My twin brother, a retired history professor, wrote a letter to state senators about Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget disaster. It was a follow-up to a column my brother wrote that appeared in the Anchorage Daily News.

It is a stark warning, fully justified by the circumstances and the perils Dunleavy has created with the bait-and-switch scheme inflicted on Alaska through his hired gun. As Sen. Donny Olson points out, the temporary budget director is all about “Slash and Dash.”

My brother knows a lot about Alaska politics and the history of the Alaska economy. This paper he wrote in 2004 on the “Prudhoe Bay Effect” contains lessons that every legislator should understand. I am not impartial in any of this, but the study is one of the most important he wrote during his long career.,

Budget director Donna Arduin could read it and find out a little about the history of her temporary quarters. No one is pretending she will be here for the duration.

The Dunleavy campaign was all about promises of bigger cash payments to Alaskans, no taxes and no cuts to education, the University of Alaska, the ferry system or any other important service. Now he wants to rip apart education, the university, the ferry system, health care and every other important state service.

This foolishness got my brother a little excited. Here is an excerpt of the letter he wrote to lawmakers following one of his regular chemo treatments:

Dear Senators:

I think the main point I want to get across is that the Dunleavy budget is so bad it needs to be completely scrapped. Start over or just dust off the Walker budget. We can not hold Alaska hostage, which is essentially what they are trying to do. Put a gun to a hostage’s head and threaten they will lose an arm and a leg, but if you beg maybe only one arm and half a leg. Ridiculous.

Some of you are well informed about Alaska history, but I hope you understand the key point is that Alaska is not an appropriate environment for the extreme right wing/hate government cookie cutter model the governor has imported.

That they would propose such stuff shows appalling ignorance. Sen. von Imhof's grandfather, Elmer Rasmuson, always told me, and Ted Stevens quoted it to me as well: Alaska is only going to be healthy if we take care of the whole state, especially the bush, and the rural and roadless areas including Southeast. All of us are going to feel the pain if the governor's careless and foolish cuts go through, but those are the places that will be hurt most, the areas that will never fit into this Lower 48 blueprint.

I am going to write another editorial dealing with taxes and the dividend as that needs to be covered separately. We are in this mess because of ourselves. That we set in motion the steps to borrow $1 billion to pay the oil companies what we owe them is shocking. I don't know the budget the way you all do, but how that can not be seen as a goof I will never understand.

We as individuals have not paid anything for state services in 40 years. Not a dime. Not a penny. And yet many Alaskans think they pay state taxes and that the $0 they owe is apparently too much. We have done a horrible job educating the public on the reality of Alaska history and economics, and the Dunleavy administration is the sad result. But we need to correct the ship, and we can do it.

It is ironic that our willingness to tax ourselves moderately starting in 1949 was the key to out getting statehood ten years later. And without statehood where would we be? We would be the Arctic Puerto Rico I'm afraid, and that is what this budget is going to do to us.


Terrence Cole

Dermot Cole5 Comments