Walker to release budget proposal to Alaska lawmakers Wednesday night
A spokesperson for Gov. Bill Walker says the budget for the coming fiscal year is going out to lawmakers on Wednesday night, before it’s made public on Thursday afternoon.
An email also went out to state employees on Wednesday forewarning them of major cuts to the workforce.
“My FY2016 budget proposal includes staff reductions and will initiate a challenging, but necessary, discussion among Alaskans,” wrote the governor in the email. “I have asked the Commissioners to begin the process of communicating details of the budget proposal to their personnel and to the public in order for Alaskans to understand the potential impact of the budget proposal.”
The co-chairs of House Finance say they haven’t seen the budget yet but probably won’t get a good handle on the governor’s cuts until legislative finance analysts crunch the numbers and put them into a format they can review.
Rep. Mark Neuman of Big Lake oversees the operating budget, and Rep. Steve Thompson of Fairbanks deals with the capital budget.
Both say, based on meetings with members of the administration so far, they expect the budget reductions to be painful, but warn it’s likely the Legislature may want to make more cuts.
State statute requires the governor to release the budget by Feb. 18. But Walker previously promised lawmakers to deliver it early, so they can have more time to act in the face of the current fiscal year’s $3.5 billion budget gap, and a similar revenue shortfall for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Neuman says he appreciates the governor keeping his word, because the work won’t be easy. He says it’ll require a complete restructuring of government.
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