Unable to justify specific budget cuts, Dunleavy parrots the same 'can't afford it' line

Gov. Mike Dunleavy did not give real justifications for his $34.7 million in capital budget vetoes Thursday.

Writing on Dunleavy’s behalf, the Office of Management and Budget under TBD Donna Arduin kept repeating one meaningless sentence.

“The state’s fiscal reality dictates a reduction in expenditures across all agencies.”

It was repeated 16 times for good measure, as illuminating as a witness taking the Fifth Amendment or a post-game interview with Bill Belichick.

The fiscal reality should dictate an end to no-bid contracts with friends of the administration or relatives of Dunleavy donors, but those weren’t in the capital budget. The fiscal reality should also dictate a reasonable fiscal plan from the governor, but he has proven to be incapable.

Instead, his fiscal reality dictates cutting $10 million for matching grants to build addiction facilities and $500,000 for matching grants for rural emergency medical services. Parroting that line about fiscal reality is not a way to show you have any clue about dealing with addiction, EMS or anything else.

“The state’s fiscal reality dictates a reduction in expenditures across all agencies” is not an explanation or a justification. It’s an excuse from a governor who won’t defend his public policy choices and can’t be bothered to think about alternatives.

On the limited number of items where the administration invented an explanation for a veto, the comments were hardly more satisfactory.

As to why the state doesn’t need half of a $7.2 million Alaska Housing Finance Corp. homeless assistance program, OMB dictated, “step down the reliance of state funds for these programs.” Dunleavy/Arduin didn’t say who the homeless should rely upon to make up for the $3.6 million veto.

The $900,000 in funds to renovate the Stratton Library building in Sitka was eliminated because “this property is a priority for disposal because it has multiple interested buyers.”

Residents of Sitka think it is a priority to preserve the building for future generations.

The $2.5 million for earthquake monitoring is not a priority, according to the governor. If it is really all that important, monitoring can wait until next year, Dunleavy/Arduin said.

Dunleavy vetoed $2.5 million for deferred maintenance for the University of Alaska without mentioning the $1 billion backlog. He said the $5 million provided in another bill is sufficient for now. Plus, “the university should advance their efforts for property disposal.”

If by this Dunleavy means the university should sell some land, a favorite item in his budget fantasy, the university land holdings are not the type that can be quickly turned into cash. Of if Dunleavy means the university should sell some its buildings, that is also not a source of easy money.

In a note about his veto of a $4 million grant for the fledgling natural gas utility in Fairbanks, Dunleavy said that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has already done enough and the project does not deserve any more help.

“The AIDEA board already approved a below market loan to the Interior Gas Utility to support this project,” Dunleavy said. This project is important to Fairbanks and needs a boost, but Dunleavy doesn’t want to hear it.

All in all, the refusal to justify budget vetoes with good arguments will do one thing for Dunleavy—inject a bit more energy into his recall campaign.


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Dermot Cole9 Comments