The state’s new budget director is a well-known fiscal hawk

Donna Arduin, director of the Office of Management and Budget, gives a presentation to the Senate Finance Committee, Jan. 23, 2019. (Photo by Skip Gray/@360 North)

The state’s new budget director, Donna Arduin, is putting together a proposal for next year’s budget.

She laid out some of her methods for the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

That budget probably won’t come out for another three weeks. But it’s likely to be controversial, as it’s expected to make deep cuts to address the $1.6 billion hole in the state’s budget.

Arduin is a veteran state budget hawk who has worked on cutting spending for governors in six other states.

She said her office is not going to continue to squeeze budgets and try to maintain the same level of services.

“Our proposals are all policy-driven. And as I said, rather than asking agencies to do more with less, we’re asking them to do less with less in many instances,” Arduin said.

She echoed Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s message to lawmakers that the state’s spending must meet its income.

One of her first moves as budget director was to reorganize the state’s budget staff. Now, instead of each commissioner of each state agency having their own budget team, those budget teams have been relocated to her office and answer to her.

Arduin said her office has been working with departments to help them prioritize their programs.

“In some cases, finding things that, really, agencies are doing now that aren’t part of their core missions, or even fit within their primary business processes,” Arduin said.

She said her department is also looking at options for outsourcing state services, eliminating non-essential programs and asking Alaskans to pay for more services.

Sitka Republican and finance committee co-chair Bert Stedman said he thinks the public should see the process that goes into building the budget, “because the budget itself might take the air out of most of the rooms it’s dropped into.”

The budget is expected out on Feb. 13.

Rashah McChesney is a photojournalist turned radio journalist who has been telling stories in Alaska since 2012. Before joining Alaska's Energy Desk , she worked at Kenai's Peninsula Clarion and the Juneau bureau of the Associated Press. She is a graduate of Iowa State University's Greenlee Journalism School and has worked in public television, newspapers and now radio, all in the quest to become the Swiss Army knife of storytellers.

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