Alaska Governor Proposes State Job Cuts as Oil Prices Plunge

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has proposed eliminating 329 state positions as part of a budget package that is still expected to require lawmakers to draw billions of dollars from savings.
Author:
Publish date:

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has proposed eliminating 329 state positions as part of a budget package that is still expected to require lawmakers to draw billions of dollars from savings amid the plunge in oil prices. Walker proposed cutting about $550 million in total unrestricted general funds to help balance the budget, according to information provided by his budget office. That is money that isn't restricted in its use. The total proposed budget authorization is about $12.8 billion. Falling oil prices have exacerbated the state's budget deficit, projected at about $6.9 billion between this year and next. While Alaska has billions of dollars to dip into in the constitutional budget reserve fund, spending levels and oil prices will help dictate how long those savings last. Walker and lawmakers have been bracing the public for cuts and plans to slim down the size of government. Walker has said he asked his commissioners to look at the potential impact of 25 percent cuts to their departments over four years. ‘There's no painless reduction. You either do something completely different or you do less because you have fewer people to do the job,’ Walker's budget director, Pat Pitney, told reporters Thursday. Of the positions proposed for elimination, it's anticipated that more than half are vacant or are expected to become vacant due to retirements or attrition, Pitney said. Most are permanent full-time positions. The list of reduced positions includes 85 within the University of Alaska system.