Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, right, listens to Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, during a Senate Democrat Caucus press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, right, listens to Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, during a Senate Democrat Caucus press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Tall promises, short details: Senate Democrats concerned about budget

Lawmakers caution constituents of inevitable budget cuts

Alaska Senate Democrats expressed their concern about the impending operating budget cuts proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy during a Thursday press conference.

Dunleavy has proposed $1.6 billion in cuts to the state operating budget. With only $3.2 billion in revenue to work with, and a government that operates on $4.8 billion in the current year, his proposed cuts match the deficit he is working with. He has not proposed any new means of revenue.

Sen. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, said he is encouraged by Dunleavy’s promises during the State of the State, such as protecting the Permanent Fund Dividend and implementing a permanent fiscal solution, but he is awaiting more details on the budget.

“I look forward to seeing his budget proposals. We heard a lot of tall promises from the governor. In the end, we were short on details,” Begich said. “In our committee hearings we’ve looked at some of the commissioners and asked them questions, we’re not getting details.”

He also noted that when Dunleavy unveiled the first part of his public safety package on Wednesday, it left out the details of how these changes would be funded. The four crime bills introduced by Dunleavy did include some fiscal notes, though.

The governor’s budget is due to the Legislature by Feb. 13. On Wednesday, Dunleavy produced some budget numbers during the Senate Finance Committee meeting. But Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, said it did not do enough to quell his fears about impending budget cuts. A member of the Senate Finance Committee, Olson said it’s usually rural residents such as his constituents who are impacted by budget cuts.

“Let’s be honest: 80 to 85 percent of the state’s revenues come from the district that I represent,” Olson said. “I watch that fair amount of visibility that is careful to make sure we are not getting the short end of the stick.”

“I’m very concerned about the details that are going to come out,” he added.

Olson said he’s already spoken to his constituents, through a local radio station, in an effort to caution them about the inevitable budget cuts.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, is concerned as well.

“We’re all looking forward to seeing the governor’s budget, but I think it’s going to be shock to Alaskans when they actually do see it.”

Art Chance comments

Sen. Tom Begich does not believe Art Chance, who was tagged for a policy formulation position within the Department of Administration, is qualified for the job.

Chance, who is a former director of the Alaska Department of Labor Relations, has come under scrutiny by some Alaskans for some of his Facebook posts. The posts in question contain crude, insulting, sometimes aggressive insults toward women, minorities, and people or people he disagrees with.

Begich, D-Anchorage, said certain government positions of respect and public service demand the “highest quality of people” to do the job.

“Mr. Chance’s comments about race, his comments about his misogyny these are really unacceptable of a state employee at any level but especially at the highest levels,” Begich said during an afternoon press conference. “He is a policy person selected to serve in our administration and I personally believe he is not qualified to do that based on those comments. They disqualify him.”


• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of July 3

Here’s what to expect this week.

Mia Halloway (6) grabs a cotton candy with her dad in Savikko Park. A long string of kids stood in line to grab a cotton candy from the Twhrly Whrliy Cotton Candy stand on a bright and sunny Fourth of July afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Fun and sun mark holiday in Douglas

Hot dogs and panting pups present for festivities.

Rachel Hurst hands her son Benjamin, 4, a beach ball to throw to the crowd from the Hawaiian-themed Juneau Urgent Care float during the July 4 parade in downtown Juneau. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau, the state of the union is festive

Melting pot of states, cultures and colors join in healthy unity for July 4 parade in unique times.

A Coast Guard aircrew and a Good Samaritan vessel rescued four mariners after their boat capsized in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, July 1, 2022. (Courtesy photo / USCG)
Good Samaritans rescue 4 after boat capsizes

The boat sank in Glacier Bay National Park.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, July 5, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

t
Police calls for Saturday, July 2, 2022

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Larisa Bishop Boros
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a male silver-haired bat captured in Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 2010. A bat found in Douglas tested positive for rabies, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.
Bat found in Douglas tests positive for rabies

No report of rabies exposure to people, according to Department of Fish and Game.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, July 1, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference Friday, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. A rally planned to include Trump is scheduled to happen in Anchorage on July 9.  (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey File)
Trump to rally for Palin, Dunleavy, Tshibaka in Anchorage

Former President Donald Trump plans to attend a rally in Alaska next week.

Most Read