Alaska’s former Budget Director, known for his budget-cutting policies, joins Nikiski Republican Rep. Ben Carpenter’s staff in this session.
Donna Arduin worked in the office of Governor Mike Dunleavy in 2018-2019 and was a driving force behind his plan to cut state spending by more than $1 billion to close the state’s budget deficit. Carpenter said she is now in Juneau, where she works as a full-time policy adviser.
“It will help us plan for long-term fiscal policy from a fiscally conservative perspective,” Carpenter said.
During about 10 months in Juneau, Arduin worked with Dunleavy to propose a budget that would drastically cut spending on the public school system, Medicaid, the ferry system, and other state-sponsored programs. Prior to Alaska, he led budget teams in several states, including California and Michigan. She returned to Juneau in her 2020 to lead a budget seminar for lawmakers and legislative candidates.
Carpenter said he and Arduin (listed on the legislative staff sheet as Donna Kauranen) are not focused on the budget, but on long-term policy issues that are often lost in the annual budget cycle. He said that
“We speak up about the budget, right? It’s still a focus, a priority, and important to me,” Carpenter said. “But we’re not going to get systemic change — what we might call institutional change… in the annual budget document.”
Carpenter chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, making decisions on taxation and state spending policy.
He said he wants to work with Arduin to discuss the state’s long-term financial health, including questions about the Permanent Fund dividend and Alaska’s revenue shortfall. has more experience under his belt.
“She brings me the experience I lack in some of the details of fiscal policy,” Carpenter said. “I have a general idea of what I want to achieve. Our experience over the last few decades under multiple governors and various legislators has provided examples of what could work, and we’re discussing it and making policy recommendations.”
Carpenter said Arduin was hired as a 23-year-old state employee. That means she earns a base of $45.17 per hour, which is near the top of the legislative staff pay scale.
Carpenter said this week that the House Ways and Means Committee will take over the work of the Fiscal Policy Task Force formed in the last Congress. The bipartisan group put forward a series of ambitious recommendations, including his proposed PFD formula, but none of them were taken up by the wider Congress before the session ended.
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