Lawmakers want deeper analysis from Dunleavy's budget team
State lawmakers thought they were going to receive an economic impact analysis Wednesday on Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget, which is designed to close a $1.6 billion spending gap.
That didn't happen, however.
Members of the Senate and House Finance Committees each pushed back at Dunleavy’s budget team for what they believe was a presentation that came up short.
“I actually thought this was going to be an economic analysis and impact in some of the reductions the administration had proposed,” said Senate Finance Committee co-chair Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, offering a department-by-department review. "The University [of Alaska], we’ve got community campus ideas for your college research: How does that translate into an economic impact across the state? The Department of Education, a $1,000 decrease in the [base student allocation]: How is that going to ripple-effect?
State economist Ed King ran out of time in the morning’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, and is expected to finish his presentation Thursday.
After the hearing, Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman said the analysis will come when the Legislature answers Dunleavy’s budget with one of its own.
“The governor has put a proposal on the table; we’re seeing a lot of theoretical if-thens being bounced back at us,” Tangeman said. “Good questions, but you can’t really analyze if-thens until an actual proposal is put back on the table.
“So we’re expecting to see a counter-proposal, if you will, from the Legislature. That’s their job. Ultimately when we get to that point, then we’ll be able to do more economic analysis on their proposal and then we can start comparing the two options.”
Later Wednesday afternoon, the House Finance Committee raised the same concerns.
“The analysis that we have been asking for since we began the budget, we really can’t make an informed decision we need to unless we have seen some kind of analysis on the impacts on each and every one of these decreases to the economy,” said House Finance co-chair Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole.
“I would say, 'What’s your alternative?,'" King said. "If I was the decision-maker and I was faced with decisions like that and I didn’t like the outcome of one option, I would say, 'Well, what are my alternative options and what are the impacts of those?'”
Wilson wasn’t satisfied with that response.
“We might as well just put numbers up around the room and take a dart and shoot at it and hope that we are right,” she said. “Without having that analysis, that’s done by the person who proposed the budget, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
On Thursday, both committees will hear from economist Mouhcine Guettabi, with the University of Alaska Anchorage's Institute of Social and Economic Research.
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