Gov. Murkowski right to admit two wrongs

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003

When you make a mistake and correct it, you turn a wrong into a right.

That's exactly what Gov. Frank Murkowski did twice last week.

In one case, the governor announced that five offices of the Division of Motor Vehicles which had been targeted for closure, including the one in Homer, would remain open.

In the other, the governor said funding for a ski trail in the Homer area should not have been included in the recent round of budget vetoes.

Two satellite offices of DMV in downtown Anchorage and Juneau will close, but five smaller offices in Homer, Sitka, Delta Junction, Haines and Nome will not.

"While I appreciate the enthusiasm shown by our people at the Department of Administration to gain efficiencies and reduce costs, it would appear that we are impacting the delivery of public services," Murkowski said in a press release announcing the offices would remain open.

In the case of the ski trail, no state money is involved, and the trail purchase has vast community support.

"Understanding the interest of the people of the Homer area to add this parcel to their trail system, I believe we can find a way to receive the funds and make it happen," the governor said in a press release.

Murkowski has made it clear he is generally opposed to the practice of using public money to buy private land to keep it from development.

His actions this past week, however, reveal his is not an all-or-nothing philosophy. With no state funds involved and wide public support, finding a way to protect the ski trail is the right thing to do.

By directing DMV to leave five offices open, the governor also has shown he understands there's a point where budget cuts can go too far. In this case, the closures would mean a loss of service to DMV customers.

"But this administration is committed to maintaining core public service, while reducing spending," Murkowski said in a press release.

There's no doubt necessary budget cuts will hurt, but it's comforting to know that the administration realizes there's a point at which the cost of some cuts is too great.

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