Kriess-Tomkins: future state budget deficit "not a rosy picture"
Kyle Clayton / Petersburg Pilot
State Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins addressing the Petersburg Borough Assembly.
State Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins said creating an image of fiscal responsibility in the state legislature trumps "real need" in communities across
"Early readings are indicating that we want to do everything we can to cut, cut, cut and keep things lean even if it means communities that have real needs suffer," Kreiss-Tomkins said.
He was responding to questions from Petersburg Borough assembly members concerning state funding and fiscal forecasts and those effects on the borough's budget.
Earlier in the meeting, assembly member John Havrilek urged department heads to cut where they could as they draft their budgets because the borough shouldn't expect to see much funding for capital projects.
"Overall tax dollars are way down," Havrilek said. "Either way I don't see us getting money for the police station or the Sing Lee Alley Bridge or a lot of the other things that are coming up. We have to do something about it."
"I think councilman Havrilek made a pretty good point," Kreiss-Tomkins said. "Revenues are not going in the direction you necessarily want to see. The next decade for the state of Alaska is probably going to be, what I would say, an inflection point in the future of this state."
Havrilek asked Kriess-Tomkins about specific dollar amounts for the legislature's capital project budget this year. Although he couldn't provide a specific number, Kriess-Tomkins said it will be less than past years-a capital project budget that has averaged around $2.5 billion.
"The capital budget we'll probably see this year is going to be absolutely skeletal in comparison," Kriess-Tomkins said. "There's this sort of latent desire to try to cut the budget to create an image of fiscal responsibility. It's almost becoming symbolically important to have as lean a budget, and especially a capital budget, as possible."
He said the political climate and the legislature's desire to create the image comes in response to the state's surpluses and growing budget during the past five to six years.