The Fitch Ratings downgrade of Alaska’s credit rating last week was no surprise. Once again, the Legislature and Governor have failed to deliver a sustainable state budget. Instead, they continue to falsely claim that significant budget cuts have been made in order to convince the public to allow politicians access to the Permanent Fund in order to fund big government.
The State House and Senate just passed the Conference Committee Operating Budget bill and, to no surprise, it reveals that little progress was made to reduce the cost of State government. Despite continued claims of significant operating budget cuts, the budget numbers published by the Legislative Finance Division tell a different story: (http://www.legfin.state.ak.us/BudgetReports/LY2016/Operating/SelectBudge...).
Government's most important mandate is public safety. Over the last 20 years, government in Alaska made a decision to hold criminal offenders accountable for their crimes by creating meaningful prison sentences, thus crime rates have dropped by 42 percent. If we still had the same levels of crime as we had in 1995, an additional 15,000 Alaskans would be crime victims every single year. When we look back at that strong record of success, we need to be certain that any changes we make to the criminal justice system will improve the lives and safety of law-abiding Alaskans.
State government is simply too big and the State Legislature has not made adequate progress in reducing the burden of big government. According to the State of Alaska, Office of Management and Budget, (www.omb.alaska.gov), only minimal reductions in the Total State Operating Budget have been achieved in the last 2 years (See Chart of Alaska Total Operating Cost).