Diary

Governor Palin Continues to Slash the Budget

Governor Palin Reduces Current Year Spending:

Governor Sarah Palin submitted a supplemental budget to legislators today that reduces general funds by $268.6 million and seeks authorization to access savings to balance the budget at the end of the fiscal year.

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“With changing market conditions and declining oil prices, our state agencies have been working hard to find savings and still provide needed public services,” Governor Palin said. “Through savings targets we implemented at the beginning of the fiscal year and by efficiently managing our programs, we have been able to reduce the current budget and minimize supplemental funding. The more we reduce now, the less we will have to draw from savings at the end of the year.”

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“With the drop in oil prices, it will require reductions in the budget and access to reserves to keep Alaskans employed and the economy moving,” Palin added. “I am committed to working with the legislature, as we have over the past two years, to make prudent budget decisions and continue to invest in infrastructure that will help develop our resources and our communities.

JR: I think it is safe to say that “prudent” is her favorite word. Alaska, unlike most states, has the luxury of having savings just in case of a budget crisis. Governor Palin increased the state savings by not allowing the legislature to go on a spending spree when the price of oil was through the roof over the summmer.

This is also not the first time Palin has “sharpened her ax:”

Now the Republican governor is displeased that legislators are trying again to fund part of last year’s wish list by padding what’s known as a supplemental budget.

So she has the veto ax in hand and is ready to strike again.

On Monday, two leading Republican lawmakers representing South Anchorage took their turn — Rep. Kevin Meyer, co-chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee, and House Majority Leader Ralph Samuels.

The half-hour meeting was cordial, with lots of smiles and laughter, but with a serious undercurrent.

Palin sat at a long boardroom table in her third-floor Capitol office with her chief of staff, Mike Tibbles, budget director Karen Rehfeld and legislative director Russ Kelly.

The guests said $10 million for an expansion of the Anchorage seaport topped their list.

“That’s your baby?” Palin asked.

Meyer explained the money was needed soon to allow port director Bill Sheffield, a former Alaska governor, to put it to work right away.

“Anything you would eliminate?” Palin asked.

But Meyer pressed ahead with a list of what he said are valid needs.

“I’ll start with the next big one, the Anchorage Museum, $5 million,” he said.

The money is needed for maintenance, he said, noting a leaky roof that threatens artwork.

“Who’s paying for that Lego thing up front, that statue?” Palin asked.