The Dunleavy administration has turned for guidance to a Koch Network group in Ohio, one with a past connection to temporary budget director Donna Arduin.
What a waste of state money this is.
There is no doubt that the right-wing Buckeye Institute will give Gov. Mike Dunleavy exactly what he wants — elaborate testimony that any tax increase will damage Alaska beyond belief and that government services in Alaska should be slashed. Unknown private investors will rush to Alaska as soon as this new era of happiness begins, they will say.
“The Buckeye Institute was founded because its staff and supporters believe that economic prosperity and personal happiness is best achieved when the size and scope of government is limited,” the group said in the 2017 Ohio Piglet Book, a publication in which it detailed programs the Koch Network doesn’t like.
What Alaska needs, the Ohio experts will tell us, is smaller government, and they will couch the virtues of shrinkage in words like these.
“This unleashes the real engine of growth — the creativity and risk taking of entrepreneurs and private business. The more government spending there is, the less opportunity there is for individual freedom and creativity to flourish and everyone becomes poorer,” the Piglet authors said in 2017.
Arduin and her former partners did a study for the Buckeye Institute a decade ago in which they said the federal stimulus money would be bad for Ohio and the private economy. “The increased government expenditures will reduce private sector growth and increase overall unemployment throughout the United States,” her company claimed.
The institute can be relied upon to produce a study at any time concluding that an income tax is a terrible idea, regardless of the local circumstances.
Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman said the state has hired the Piglet Book authors “just to get a different perspective.”
The different perspective will be as disconnected from reality as the fiscal fantasy Dunleavy peddled to voters last year — no cuts in public services, no taxes and giant dividends.
Dunleavy, Arduin, et al. are unhappy with the Institute of Social and Economic Research in Anchorage for pointing out that jobs losses in the thousands would follow from Dunleavy’s drastic cuts. No one in Alaska has shown that happy investors will flood the state with new private ventures after Dunleavy guts education, health care and the ferry system.
Enter the experts from Ohio.
In Ohio, they want to take money from the public schools and end what they call “local government run monopolies.” The state would give money to parents to “purchase textbooks, hire tutors, enroll students in online classes, pay private school tuition, or save money for college,” changes that would make it harder for many kids to get a good education.
Similar to the Dunleavy attack on public education in Alaska by its misuse of the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress test results, the Ohio group attacks public schools in that state with the same single test.
In the superficial 10-year budget forecast released by Arduin’s office, the Dunleavy administration claimed that the forthcoming Buckeye research will prove that implementing tax increases would be the worst thing that we could do.
Dunleavy “does not want to stifle the economy with broad-based taxes, which are not considered a viable option to solving the current fiscal issues,” according to the 10-year forecast.
But guess what? An income tax is a viable option, along with a cap on the permanent fund dividend and an increase in oil taxes.
Dermot Cole is a longtime Alaskan, an author of several history books and a former Daily News-Miner staff columnist. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.