What does cutting $100 million actually look like? Its’ actually not clear – as the budget document released by the administration leads to more questions than answers. The $100 million Gov. Walker proposes to slice from state spending next year would be felt across Alaska – from $2 million slashed from pre-kindergarten grants to $9 million heating assistance program. There’s also $750,000 in assistance cut for public radio to $11,000 that could be saved by no longer paying for cable television in each private room at Juneau’s state-run Pioneer Home. The cuts the governor is proposing appear to range from 28 percent to the $30 million taken out of the Commerce Department budget as well as 4 percent of the $1.2 billion state Health Department budget – but those numbers seem to apply to two budget cycles – not just the FY 2017 budget. . “Wow”. In its budget documents the Education Department concedes that “evidence overwhelmingly shows” the pre-kindergarten program increases student achievement. But it says the money only serves a small portion of students and can’t be maintained when the department’s primary responsibility is to local school districts and students in kindergarten through high school. Informed of the proposed cuts, Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, responded in a text message: “Wow.”
“You’re talking heating homes, keeping families warm — women and children, wives and fathers, grandparents. I think it’s a pretty heartless thing to do,” he said in a phone interview Friday from Dillingham
In addition, Gov. Walker is also proposing $2.5 billion in borrowing for pension obligation bonds, to pay annual costs towards the state’s unfunded liability. If the Legislature chooses not to use pension obligation bonds to fund this year’s extra retirement payment, there’s no alternate version of the budget showing how much would be needed to be taken from the general fund.
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