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Extra Edition: Budget Observations

Alaskans are skeptical


Published:

Rep. Neal Foster

Alaska Legislature

Alaskans are skeptical of administrative and legislative actions on the budget for good reason:
 
Exhibit Number 1: $600,000 for training in the construction industry was added back into the budget by Representative Neal Foster with the following logic:
 
With regard to the cut, Rep. Neal Foster wrote, “this is shortsighted given there are already not enough trained Alaskans to meet workforce needs...Restoring this funding is necessary to meet demand for a trained Alaskan workforce.”

 

Headlamp finds two problems with this “logic.”

 

  • The private sector runs apprenticeship programs to train construction workers, basing the level of programs offered on actual demand. An apprentice is hired when an actual job is AVAILABLE. The private sector’s ability to ramp training up and down according to market conditions is exactly the type of behavior needed to stop the growth of government.

 

Exhibit Number 2: State Employee Count
 
Legislators and the public have expressed frustration over lack of clarity regarding the number of state employees, state positions eliminated, funded positions, unfilled positions, etc…
 
January 2016 report titled “Positions, Vacancy Factors and Legislative Control,” provides good information on the topic. It helps explain why it’s important for legislators, like Representative Tammie Wilson did in House Finance, to pay attention to how agencies are using funds.

 

The report noted: “Transfers to and from personal services can signal “vacancy games” in an allocation. Funding moved from the personal services line to the services line may indicate that the department

 

  • Is having difficulty recruiting and will contract for the services, or

 

  • Must use the funding to pay increased contractual costs for leases, IT services, outside vendor costs, etc.…
 
Some transfers, particularly those that are reversed before submitting the budget to the legislature, may indicate a lack of intent to follow the budget as submitted.”
 
 
Headlamp knows the public is smart enough to understand the details shrouding the budget debate. It is time for government to actually provide these details in a clear and concise manner.
 
 

AK Headlamp
A Project of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance
3301 C Street
Anchorage, AK 99503

 

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