• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 59s

Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Pioneer Homes are pawns in the battle over budget cuts

By John Tracy 4:46 PM April 13, 2017

State lawmakers shook up Alaska pioneers this week, threatening to toss them out of the Pioneer Homes in Juneau and Palmer.

The hubbub demonstrates what happens when your public policy becomes a public relations nightmare.

The Senate last week approved a 10 percent budget cut, nearly $6 million to the State’s Pioneer Homes Division.

The Department of Health responded by warning residents at the Palmer and Juneau homes to prepare to leave. Then the finger pointing began.

The agency says if the Senate didn’t want cuts to Pioneer Homes, it shouldn’t have targeted them.

The Senate says its not to blame because the House might restore the money, and after all it gave the agency discretion to spread the cuts elsewhere if it wanted to.

Clearly, the Senate and the Walker administration are using the budget cut for political theater. But this is really a problem with the Senate’s approach.

It’s not that difficult to make budget cuts without specifics and leave it to state agencies to do the dirty work.

In other words, the Senate would like the credit for making a big budget cut, but not the blame when the cut actually impacts Alaskans.

Should the Pioneer homes be shut down? Of course not. Nor will they.

But, I would argue, if one is going to be shut down, it should probably be Palmer. And stay with me here, I love Palmer.

The Mat-Su delegation unanimously condemned the Pioneer Home threat.

However, as a group, they are among those calling for the deepest cuts in the budget.

In fact, their Senator, Mike Dunleavy, quit his own majority caucus last week because the Senate isn’t cutting enough.

So here’s an idea that might actually solve this debate.

What if every lawmaker who believes we can cut our way out of our fiscal dilemma would step up and accept larger cuts in services in their districts first.

Just to set an example.

Reality Check. If you’re a lawmaker who campaigned on making deep cuts, then you need to own them.

Because it’s OK to be a budget hawk in Juneau, but you’re only credible if you don’t become a chicken hawk when the cuts land in your district.

John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.

Latest Stories

  • OJ Simpson granted parole in Nevada robbery

    by Associated Press on Jul 20, 11:00

    LOVELOCK, Nev. (AP) – O.J. Simpson will be paroled after serving nine years in prison for a botched bid to retrieve sports memorabilia in Las Vegas. A Nevada parole board decided Thursday that the 70-year-old former football, TV and movie star will be released in October after serving his minimum term for armed robbery and […]

  • House backs King Cove road in remote Alaska wildlife refuge

    by Associated Press on Jul 20, 10:47

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has approved legislation allowing a proposed road through a remote national wildlife refuge in Alaska that was rejected by the Obama administration. A bill approved Thursday would grant a land exchange allowing Alaska to build the road between two rural communities, King Cove and Cold Bay. They sit near the […]

  • News

    Research ships find Bering Sea crab boat in sinking with 6 missing

    by Associated Press on Jul 20, 10:19

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Federal research ships have found a crab boat that sank with six men on board in the Bering Sea. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the F/V Destination, a 98-foot crab boat that disappeared Feb. 11, was found upright in 250 feet of water off St. George Island. No bodies […]

  • News

    Safeway drug theft puts focus on delayed reporting issues, DEA says

    by Steffi Lee on Jul 20, 8:25

    Drug Enforcement Administration officials say a recent $3 million settlement paid by the Safeway grocery chain, prompted by opioids missing from an Alaska pharmacy, highlights the need for a documented trail of the supply and distribution chain of all medications from pharmacies. The fine settles allegations by the Department of Justice that Safeway did not […]

  • News

    SUV accidentally stuck on South Anchorage tracks struck by train

    by Chris Klint on Jul 20, 5:37

    A sport-utility vehicle was struck by an Alaska Railroad train early Thursday in South Anchorage, police said. No injuries were reported in the collision involving a Chevrolet Blazer just before 2 a.m., according to police dispatchers. The wreck occurred at a railroad crossing on Arctic Boulevard just north of Arctic Spur Road. Police spokesman MJ […]

  • Lifestyle

    STDs on the rise in Alaska

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jul 19, 20:46

    New numbers from the state show sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Alaska. Alaska already has some of the highest rates in the country. Chlamydia rose half a percent from 2015 to 2016, with about 5,700 new cases reported. Of those cases, 79 percent are from people under the age of 29. Chlamydia […]

  • News

    Assemblyman objects to new shelter downtown

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jul 19, 19:28

    Downtown Assemblyman Christopher Constant said on Wednesday, enough is enough when it comes to putting more services for the homeless downtown. Constant was reacting to a plan to open a new shelter on B Street, also in downtown Anchorage. Anchorage Homeless Coordinator Nancy Burke said the city wants to lease a former halfway house near […]

  • Politics

    Joe Balash gets Federal appointment by Trump administration

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jul 19, 18:50

    President Trump has nominated a key Alaskan to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Mineral management. Wednesday the Trump administration announced the nomination for Joe Balash, chief of staff to Senator Dan Sullivan to take on the job as Secretary of the Interior, Land and Mineral Management. Senator Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) praises […]