In this Feb. 13, 2019 photo, University of Alaska Southeast Student Body President Nick Bursell speaks at a rally for funding the University of Alaska in front of the Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this Feb. 13, 2019 photo, University of Alaska Southeast Student Body President Nick Bursell speaks at a rally for funding the University of Alaska in front of the Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Don’t let Gov. Dunleavy’s budget rhetoric fool you

It’s an utter travesty and heartless to the needs of our most vulnerable.

  • Friday, March 22, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

Words can be so misleading. Budgets tell the real story and point to the motive. Gov. Mike Dunleavy campaigned as an educator with an understanding for our educational needs coupled with compassion for the elderly. But was that what elected him or was it the promise of recouping the past three years in “super-sized” PFDs and fully restoring them?

The governor’s budget clearly points to the real values: eliminate early childhood education, cut K-12 funding, cut 41 percent of our university budget. Does this sound like an educator?

[Opinion: Educating children should be more than just a financial decision]

His budget would virtually eliminate the Alaska Marine Highway System. How would Hoonah, Wrangell or Angoon survive? How would Juneauites get on the road system for a vacation?

The radically increased cost of our Pioneer Homes for seniors would bar the door to most. Our Housing First and Glory Hall would close or be so impaired that many of our most needful citizens would again sleep under bridges.

Cutting funding to municipalities would send property taxes sky high.

Does this sound like compassion and progress?

Alaskans have worked diligently over 50 years to develop a balanced budget with a safety net to help the most vulnerable. The governor’s budget strips that away.

[Opinion: Ferry system is an Alaska icon]

To build a fine house requires good material, skilled craftsmen and considerable time. But one careless match can quickly destroy it. For over half a century, skilled legislators with competent governors have crafted a state of which we can be proud. Don’t let Dunleavy destroy that which has taken generations to build.

Why such a Draconian style budget? The administration quickly answers, “we are ideology driven.” Look beyond the rhetoric. The list of budget cuts is almost as long as the budget itself — except one major area — big oil. Ponder this — the largest single contributor to Dunleavy’s election campaign was his brother — a Texas oil executive.

Former Gov. Jay Hammond stated that the resources of the state belong to the people and Alaska. He stated that we must get at least 30 percent of the oil revenues. What are we getting now? A mere pittance. The state even pays the oil companies something like $900 million. Has the governor’s budget cut this?

[Opinion: Cuts to education, social services are shortsighted]

The enticement of super PFDs, coupled with such a budget, is an utter travesty and heartless to the needs of our most vulnerable.

Today demands more, not less, education. Do we really want a steady stream of families leaving the state they love because their job is no more and education subpar?

Economists tell us we are gradually emerging from recession. Do we want to now spiral into a deeper recession or even a depression?

However, there is hope.

Our constitution does not allow a governor to be an autocrat. Our House and Senate can say “no” to the governor’s budget and submit a responsible one. They can reject “super-sized” PFDs and limit the size of this years-for the good of the entire state. They can say the time is now for the benefit of our very young, our very old, and everyone in between, that we need the additional revenue of a graduated income tax.

Then, the 22 percent of our out-of-state labor force with high paying oil, mining and fishing jobs, and who utilize our infrastructure, can help us pay for the needs of our state.

Don’t allow the rhetoric fool you.


• Paul Beran lives in Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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