Monday, May 12, 2014

Things worth repeating ...

Despite all of the social media tools available on the market these days, I haven't been able to figure out whether people who read these pages -- here or the main blog -- also read the others where I post shorter pieces -- the Facebook pages (here, here or here) or the Linked-in pages (here and here).  For those that do, you probably can skip over this.

For those that don't, however, I want to emphasize something I think is significant on the Alaska political scene.

Each year since 2010 following the end of a given Legislature's two-year term (and in the run-up to the next election) a group of three business trade associations and one advocacy group have published a "report card" on the Legislature and in the last two editions, the Governor.  This year's edition is here.

Understandably given the focus of the groups, the Report Card usually has a Republican bias, grading most R's significantly higher than most D's and in most year's giving the leadership of the R-wing of each legislative body relatively high marks.

But that has changed this year in a significant way.  In an effort to drive home a point that many legislators are ignoring, this year the Report Card has dropped the individual grades of both Senate and House leadership for failing to come to grips with the state's increasingly difficult fiscal outlook.
House.  The ... blemish on 28th Legislature’s House Majority was unsustainable unrestricted general fund spending. The positive trend in reversing the growth of spending is acknowledged, as is the difficulty of reducing spending, however the State’s fiscal cliff looms large. As a result, the House Majority leadership’s grades (Speaker, Majority Leader, co-chairs of Finance and Rules chair) were downgraded.
Senate.   ... as with the House Majority and the Governor, the Senate Majority allowed unsustainable unrestricted general fund spending. The positive trend in reversing the growth of spending is acknowledged, as is the difficulty of reducing spending, however the State’s fiscal cliff looms large. As a result, the grades of the members of the Senate leadership team (President, Majority Leader, and the co-chairs of Finance and Rules chair) were downgraded.
The marks given the Governor are similarly reduced.
... Governor Parnell has been far less successful in trimming the size of state government and reducing its unsustainable unrestricted general fund spending. The positive trend in reversing the growth of spending is acknowledged, as is the difficulty of reducing spending, however the State’s fiscal cliff looms large. Alaska needs more leadership from the Governor on this very important strategic issue. We hope he will step up to that need with some significant vetoes in the FY2015 operating and capital budgets, together with a clear message explaining the need for them. Last year, the Governor allowed a bloated FY 2014 budget to go into effect with no vetoes.
The warning lights clearly are flashing from those in the private sector who see these things coming first.  The legislature and Governor should be paying attention.  At least in one race, those words are going to be repeated often, and my guess is, with effect.