Thursday, April 17, 2014

#AKbudget| Doing the math.3 ...

The last couple of days I have been building an Excel spreadsheet to do some analysis of Alaska's revenue, spending and deficit levels.  Yesterday I published a small piece that analyzed Alaska's spending levels since 2000 by Governor and compared what current spending levels would be currently if those under previous Governors had been increased -- as some have suggested -- to keep pace with inflation.

In the two cases I analyzed I discovered current spending levels have outstripped inflation by double (comparing Governor Knowles to Governor Parnell) or more than double (comparing Governor Palin to Governor Parnell).

Evidently feeling I was not having enough "fun with facts" various commentators suggested I do the same comparison by population growth.  While I am not convinced that is a good measure, population numbers are relatively easy to access and so, I present the same comparisons here for whatever value others think they may have.

The state's population has grown by 8.8% between 2009 (the last year before this Governor became responsible for the budget process) and the Department of Labor's current "baseline" prediction for FY 2015.  (Inflation based on the CPI for the same period is 10.1%).  Increasing the FY 2010 budget by population growth would result in a budget for FY 2015 of $5.54 billion (compared with the $6.5 billion currently projected).

The state's population has grown by 18.3% from 2002, the year of Governor Knowles last budget.  (Inflation for the same period is 31%).  Increasing the FY 2003 budget by population growth would result in a budget for FY 2015 of $2.94 billion (again, compared with the $6.5 billion currently projected).

Given their comments I doubt these are the results the various commentators anticipated -- both appeared to contemplate adjusting for population growth would produce higher "comparable" budgets than adjusting for inflation, but the numbers are what they are.  By either measure the growth of the current (and, in fact, all budgets prepared under and signed by this Governor) have far outstripped any other comparable measure of growth during the same period.