SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

These are the Facts

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


December 07, 2017
Thursday PM

This letter is in direct response to a December 4th letter to Sitnews submitted by David Nees of the Alaska Policy Forum, out of Anchorage. Mr. Nees states that the numbers I used in my Dec. 1st letter to Sitnews are “inaccurate and misleading.”

While Mr. Nees correctly states that my statistic of a 44% reduction in state spending comes from the Walker Administration (The Office of Management and Budget), that statistic also comes from the non-partisan Leg Finance division. He fails to mention that the Alaska Republican Senate majority also uses those numbers; their website states “the Senate Majority immediately cracked down on spending, reducing General Fund expenditures by 44% – from $8.3 billion in FY 2013 to $4.3 billion in FY 2017.” It’s Mr. Nees who is misleading when he implies that the 44% reduction figure was arrived at by including the one time $3 billion infusion into the PERS and TERS system made in 2013 by the Parnell Administration and the AK Legislature for expenditure comparison purposes. This was a one-time direct infusion from savings and it was not used by the Walker Administration, the Senate Majority, the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division, or myself to arrive at the 44% reduction figure. Quoting from page 3 of the Leg Finance source I provided above:

“The Facts Are Clear:

  1. Expenditures have been cut by 44% (3.5 billion) since FY13 and are at the same level as in FY07 (when there was a surplus of 900 million). Ballooning expenditures are not driving the fiscal crisis.”

Mr. Nees also questions the accuracy of my statistic that state employees have been reduced by 2,800. He refers to past public “pink slip” statements made by OMB director Pat Pitney as reflecting much lower numbers than the 2,800 that I cite. Ms. Pitney and myself conducted a town meeting back in the spring of 2017 in the Kayhi Auditorium where she mentioned that the actual pink slip number being much less than the number of 2500 less employees cited at that town meeting. Thus, it was fair of Mr. Nees to raise the question. However, the number of 2,800 less state employees that I used in my letter come from the Alaska Department of Labor website.

The 2,800 difference in employment came from comparing state government employment in October, 2014 (26,800) to October, 2017 (24,000). To be clear, in October of 2014, 2,800 more people received paychecks for things like being an Alaska Legislator (having their “butts in seats” as Mr. Nees refers to) than in October of 2017. I stand by the numbers I provided in my December 1st article.

Finally, as further evidence that Mr. Nees doesn’t have his facts clear, he thinks that my constituents are from Sitka, rather than from District 36 (Hyder, Hydaburg, Ketchikan, Metlakatla, Saxman, Meyers Chuck, Loring, and Wrangell).

While some in my district don’t agree with some of the policy positions or votes that I have made in the time that I have had the honor of serving as the District 36 Representative, it is my primary objective to always be transparent and honest with all of my constituents.

Ketchikan, Alaska

About: Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District.


Editor's Note:

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

Received December 06, 2017 - Published December 07, 2017

Related Viewpoint:

letter RE: Alaska's Fiscal Situation By David Nees




Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.