Rep. Ben Carpenter, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in opposition to overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Rep. Ben Carpenter, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in opposition to overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Rep. Ben Carpenter: Revolutionizing our budgeting practices with realistic reforms

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

In Alaska, our reliance on unstable revenue sources poses a significant challenge to funding state government. Despite this, the legislature has regularly banked on these uncertain funds, overlooking the pressing need to trim government waste. The cost of inefficiency is staggering, leading to misplaced priorities in spending discussions.

As the halls of the state capitol buzz with discussions on spending for programs, and contracts, we forget how fragile our stability is when it’s supported with three main revenue sources that are not stable, and not guaranteed. So, conversations and decisions over how to best spend state revenues drown out discussions of reducing the size and scope of government. And the solution each year to balance the budget is to take more of the PFD. Balancing the budget is admirable, doing so on the backs of dividend recipients is not; it’s poor planning pure and simple.

Governor Dunleavy’s efforts to reduce the state budget have encountered formidable resistance, highlighting the entrenched interests that resist change. However, I firmly believe that realistic reforms are achievable through policy and process improvements.

Drawing inspiration from successful strategies in other states, I’ve delved into ways to streamline state government management and overhaul budgeting practices. My mission is clear: to revolutionize our budgeting practices. Through meticulous investigation and unwavering curiosity, I’ve identified areas ripe for improvement and solutions that can drive meaningful change.

Efficiency and transparency are paramount in effective governance, ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent judiciously and decision-making is accessible to all. Through our efforts in the House Ways and Means Committee, we’ve identified areas for improvement and championed legislative initiatives aimed at promoting efficiency and identified essential areas where government inefficiency poses a significant barrier to progress.

Legislation proposed to streamline a better managed government is the following:

Sunset Commission Act (HB 190): Offers a systematic approach to improving government performance and accountability. Identifies areas for process improvement and eliminates wasteful spending.

Results-Based Budgeting (HB 194): Emphasizes transparency and accountability in budget allocation. Ensures taxpayer dollars are used effectively to achieve tangible results.

Licensing Reciprocity (HB 277): Recognizes out-of-state licenses, easing barriers to work in Alaska. Promotes economic growth by attracting skilled workers to the state.

Administrative Regulation Review Division (HB 278): Simplifies regulatory compliance and improves the business environment. Ensures regulatory compliance with legislative intent and fosters continuous improvement.

These are the championed legislative initiatives that we created that are aimed at overhauling bureaucratic machinery, promoting efficiency, and prioritizing the interests of Alaskans above our desire to raid their pocketbooks. As we navigate the complexities of governance, it is clear to me that Legislative action is needed to reform Government from the inside out. We need to restructure in some places, cut red tape, and ramp up accountability to make government operations more effective, and at its heart a service to Alaskans with their interests put first.

Ben Carpenter, representative for House District 8, is chairman of the Ways & Means Committee. Contact Rep.Ben.Carpenter@akleg.gov, 907-465-3779 or visit https://bencarpenterpost.com/.

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