Thursday's story on the funding cut by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conser-vation for the Cook Inlet Keepers fully demonstrates that the Murkowski administration does not have a clue on how to downsize state government. Murkowski cuts the funds. DEC cuts funds at the delivery of service level in order to divert funding to DEC administration. It's a typical bureaucratic response to budget cuts. This will be just one example of a coming deluge of mismanaged downsizing by the Murkowski administration.
Instead of an orderly plan to downsize, they're trying for a quick public relations fix. They're promising more than $250,000,000 in quick fix cuts next year. As with most quick fixes, the real problem grows, causing disaster down the road. As I have said all along, Murkowski's goal is to make the Constitutional Budget Reserve last until the end of his term and let the next governor catch hell. Of course, most Alaskans will catch hell, too.
Let there be no doubt. State government, state supported entities and programs including education must be downsized. This must be done in a systematic, honest and orderly manner. There is no quick fix! It will take three to five years. Spending cannot be cut enough, so new revenues must be found. But, if new taxes are instituted before downsizing, growth in spending will take place instead of downsizing. Legislators just cannot say no when money is available to spend.
When Murkowski's promised quick fix of $250 millions cuts hits the streets in 2004-05, economic disaster will hit Alaska. Thousands of state and local government workers and teachers will be laid off. Their buying power will be lost. Many businesses will go bankrupt. Thousands of homes will eventually be turned over to lenders. Home prices will crash. (Many were not here for the price crash of the mid- 1980s.) Bust time for Alaska and most Alaskans.
Is Murkowski concerned about this? I doubt it. He has money and a very fat U.S. congressional pension and unlimited health care. This is why ending the longevity bonus meant nothing to him. Does his staff care? Most will simply return to Washington and find jobs there as they did in the past. What will our elected representatives do? I predict next to nothing!
William J. Phillips, Kenai
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