It’s hard for constituents to input and suggest possible cost cuts when very few people really have any idea of all the state budget line items. It’s overwhelming to say the least. I requested a copy from my representative back in the 80s. It came in four banker-type book boxes: one of the four boxes was just the university’s budget.
It should be possible to provide the entire budget line items on an easily accessible website. If the general public had even a clue of all the thousands of departmental maintenance, capital projects, education, services, etc., line-item dollars that are requested, it’d be beneficial in trying to make educated suggestions on cost cuts to our legislators. The entire list should have a simple “yes / no” rating to give our representatives an idea of what each person feels is important to them. There should be notations for items with matching federal or private funds, i.e.: Medicaid, road projects, airports, etc.
It’s obvious that people in the bush are going to have very different priorities from those that live on the road system. Until you’ve been to places like Arctic Village up North, or Hoonah in Southeast, you’ll probably have no idea what a full permanent fund dividend does to help pay $8 for a gallon of milk, $9 for a gallon of fuel, or a ferry trip to buy groceries. Conversely, people living next to a freeway and supermarkets might not think a dividend is all that important in these tough times.
I suppose that many people might take a look at the overwhelming budget line-item list and just give up. It’d be easier to fill out an itemized federal tax form 1040 than take the punishment of answering a several hundred page survey — not something that’s going to get completed in one night between dinner and bedtime.
Most likely, there will be some that will go to “town meetings” and figure they’ve done due diligence sitting through three hours of arguments and finger-pointing, or calling the morning talk show.
I believe that putting an easily accessible full budget survey online would not only let the public know where public interests are, but also be invaluable information for our heckled legislators. They’ve been elected to analyze and make the tough choices; let’s give them some raw material to work with.
— Dave Eagle, Kenai/Soldotna