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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Dunleavy's cuts

By Rep. Dan Ortiz

February 20, 2019
Wednesday PM

Last week, Governor Dunleavy unveiled his amended budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2020. As expected, there were substantial cuts to government agencies, all of which will affect Southern Southeast. Some of the cuts that will be most noticeable here in District 36 are the Marine Highway, services to our seniors, education, Fish & Game, public safety, and access to information.

Governor Dunleavy proposed a 68.3% cut to our ferry system, including an 80% decrease in funding for fuel. The intent of such a steep cut is to eliminate the ferry system as it currently operates by October 2019 and instead rely on a private entity, if any, taking over operation of ferry service.

The Health and Human Services budget saw a $850 million decrease, most of which comes from federal funds. Our Pioneer Homes will now have to ask new entrants to pay much more, making it inaccessible to some of our most vulnerable population, and eventually closing its doors. The Senior Benefits Program was completely eliminated from the budget proposal.

In the Department of Education and Early Development, the Foundation Formula was cut by 23%. That will result in approximately a $6.25 million cut to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District, which is the equivalent of a loss of 70 of our current 178 district-wide teaching staff. In the Wrangell School District, that is approximately a $1.09 million decrease or the equivalent of a loss of 8 of our current 40 certified teaching staff. Also within DEED, there is a complete elimination of Pre-K Grants, the WWAMI program, and internet services such as OWL and Live Homework Help.

In our Fish and Game department, we saw a $1.64 million cut to commercial fisheries. Governor Dunleavy also proposed cutting revenue sharing of fish taxes so that communities around the state will no longer receive 50% of the taxes assessed on fish landed in their communities. This means over an $800,000 loss to the city and borough of Ketchikan and a $350,000 loss to Wrangell.

Governor Dunleavy proposed a $30.5 million cut to Department of Corrections, transferring prisoners out of state to save money, a 14% cut to troopers, and a 22% cut to our Village Public Safety Officers.

Lastly, he eliminated funding for Public Broadcasting; KRBD in Ketchikan would see a $78 thousand loss and KSTK in Wrangell would see a $75.5 thousand loss.

All of the above potential cuts comprise the tradeoffs for each of us to receive the full PFD, with the amount being over $3,000. The question I need answered through input from each of my District 36 constituents is: Is a PFD in that amount for myself and my fellow family members worth the very significant negative impacts that would occur if the Dunleavy budget were to be adopted?

If you would like to comment on Governor Dunleavy’s proposed budget or want to discuss any other legislative concerns, please contact me at or 907-247-4672.


Rep. Dan Ortiz
District 36
Ketchikan, Alaska



Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received February 20, 2019 - Published February 20, 2019

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