Right-wing group claims credit for Dunleavy effort to get 'different perspective' on budget

The right-wing Alaska Policy Forum was not enthusiastic about a recent column of mine in which I predicted that the right-wing Buckeye Institute in Ohio will give Gov. Mike Dunleavy exactly what he wants—research claiming that Alaska can’t afford a tax increase of any kind.

More importantly, the policy forum and the Ohio group say it was not the Dunleavy administration that asked or paid for the forthcoming report—it was the Alaska Policy Forum and the Buckeye Institute. They said the state isn’t paying for it and their groups never besmirch themselves with public money.

This raises a question about who is in charge.

“Since Gov. Dunleavy took office, the state has been working with the Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center on understanding the implications of imposing new taxes,” the governor’s office said in the superficial 10-year fiscal plan it released March 18.

“They were gracious enough to allow the state of Alaska to run some previous legislative proposals through their dynamic model, as the state does not have one of its own. For that, Gov. Dunleavy would like to express his appreciation to the Buckeye Institute. Their work is not yet finalized but is scheduled for release during the 2019 legislative session.”

“The Buckeye Institute’s work (yet to be published) reinforces what several other academic institutions have previously found. The impacts of taxation on the economy would be much worse than it first appears and more detrimental than spending reductions,” the governor’s office said.

The claim that the forum and the Buckeye Institute are paying the bills contradicts a report in the Daily News-Miner March 30 in which Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman said the state hired the Buckeye Institute to “get a different perspective” on the state budget.

Perhaps the news story was incorrect or perhaps Tangeman didn’t want to explain the chain of command. I’ll accept the statement from the forum and the Ohio experts that they are calling the shots.

This is starting to resemble the shifting stories about responsibility for the Dunleavy/Koch Network show-and-tell sessions.

In any case, if the Dunleavy administration is not responsible for this process, but is relying on free analysis from Dunleavy supporters and the Koch Network, I have no problem in correcting the record.

Bethany Marcum, executive director of the forum, and Ohio economist Andrew Kidd were also irked that I would predict what the Buckeye report would conclude without having seen it.

“The author has not seen the report and only referenced unrelated publications in an attempt to comment on what the forthcoming report will address,” they wrote to the Daily News-Miner, which reprinted that column from my blog.

They think it is presumptuous on my part to guess what the report will say. Perhaps they don’t realize how predictable all of this is.

“A look at economics literature shows us that tax increases shrink the economy and that spending cuts are both fiscally responsible and contribute to growth,” they wrote, confirming my prediction.

The Buckeye Institute won’t provide insight into Alaska’s situation, but it will apply the template from other locations, with one slight revision.

It’s hard to make an argument that cutting taxes in Alaska will lead to immense growth. So instead, the Ohio experts will tell us about the virtues of cutting spending, neglecting to analyze the impact on public services.

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Dermot Cole7 Comments