A former Alaska budget director known for his budget-reducing policies is joining the staff of Niskiski Republican Representative Ben Carpenter this session.
Donna Arduin served in Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office between 2018 and 2019 and was the architect behind his plan to cut state spending by more than $1 billion to close the state’s budget deficit. Carpenter said she is currently at Juno and serving as their full-time policy advisor.
“And that’s going to help me look at long-term fiscal policy planning from a fiscal conservative perspective,” Carpenter said.
In his nearly 10 months in Juneau, Arduin worked with Dunleavy to propose a budget that would drastically cut spending on the public school system, Medicaid and the ferry system, among other state-sponsored programs. Prior to his tenure in Alaska, Arduin directed budget teams in several states, including California and Michigan. She returned to Juneau in 2020 to lead a budget seminar for legislators and legislative candidates.
Carpenter said he and Arudin – Donna Cournan listed as legislative staff sheet The focus is not on the budget, but on longer-term policy issues, he said, adding that they often get lost in the annual budget cycle.
“We’ll have our say with the budget, right? It’s still a focus, still a priority and important to me,” Carpenter said. “But we are not going to put systemic change – what we might call institutional change – in an annual budget document.”
Carpenter chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, which makes decisions about taxation and state spending policies.
He said he looks forward to working with Arduin to discuss the state’s long-term financial health, including questions about permanent fund dividends and Alaska’s revenue shortfall. She said that now that she has a majority in the House and has more years of experience under her belt, she is in the right place to do so — and Arduin will help her get there.
“I lack experience in some of the finer points of fiscal policy,” Carpenter said. “I have a general idea of what I want to achieve; They have the experience of bringing examples of things that have worked under many governors and different legislators over the past few decades, and we discuss it and come out with a policy recommendation.
Carpenter said Arduin was hired as 23 state employee — meaning he is making an hourly base of $45.17, Top Pay Scales of Legislative Employees,
Carpenter said this week the House Ways and Means Committee is going to take over the work of the Fiscal Policy Working Group formed during the last legislative session. The bipartisan group offered an ambitious set of recommendations, including a proposed PFD formula, but None of them were taken up by the broader legislature before the session ended.