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Portrait of Senate Finance Co-Chair, Senator Sean Parnell Portrait of Senate Finance Co-Chair, Senator John Torgerson

Senator Sean Parnell
State Capitol, Room 518
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-2995
Fax: (907) 465-6592
Send E-Mail

Senator John Torgerson
State Capitol, Room 516
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-2828
Fax: (907) 465-4779
Send E-Mail

Governor's Proposed Budget Means Huge Deficit
Senate Finance Co-Chairs Fear Return to Last Session's Budget Dilemma

For Immediate Release: December 16, 1999
Contact: Senator Sean Parnell at (907) 269-0250
Senator John Torgerson at (907) 283-2690.

Anchorage -- Members of the Alaska Senate reacted with deep concern Wednesday over proposed increases in Governor Knowles' FY2001 budget which would create a huge deficit and require a large withdrawal from the state's Constitutional Budget Reserve of over $850 million dollars.

In keeping with his 4th Annual State of the Child Address, Governor Knowles used Alaskan children to support spending increases in his proposed budget, which he calls, the Children's Budget. The Senate Finance Co-Chairs are concerned that characterizing the state budget in this fashion detracts from Alaskans understanding that the budget process is broad-based and scrutinizes every aspect of state spending.

"Everybody is concerned about the welfare of our children but not all the answers to the problems they face can be answered with a call for money," said Senator Sean Parnell (R-Anchorage), Senate Finance Co-Chair. "Without studying the efficacy of these proposed spending increases there is no guarantee of whether the governor's budget will just add-the-bucks or pass-the-buck for children we all want to protect."

Although it is too soon for the Legislature to have reached a meaningful analysis of the governor's proposed plan, it is not too soon to note some obvious concerns which do merit comment.

"These illusory savings highlight a major philosophical difference in how the legislature and the administration look at the budget process, " said Senator John Torgerson (R-Kenai), Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "There can be no savings when the money you are claiming to save from one area is thrust back into the budget under a different name."

The governor's budget, if adopted in whole, would increase the draw on the state's Constitutional Budget Reserve from $500 million this fiscal year to over $850 million dollars next year. This would put the Legislature in the same position it was in last year and represents an overly optimistic assessment that oil prices would remain at over $18 per barrel in 2001.

"None of us will forget that last year's deficit ultimately led to September 14th's advisory vote. The message the public told us was that they do not want their government `permanent-ly funded' and that they expect their elected officials to demand performance and measures before tapping the taxpayer's pocket," said Senator Torgerson.

That is why in addition to completing the fifth year of our five-year plan for streamlining state spending, the Senate Finance Co-Chairs are committed to a system of results-based budgeting to ensure that state spending is attached to identifiable goals and proven cost-savings.

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Broadcasters note: Audio comments are available on the Majority Actuality line, 1-800-478-6540
= John Torgerson, 66 K

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