State budget cuts would impact Juneau

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The CBJ is actively assessing the impacts the proposed state budget would have on Juneau.

    The CBJ would lose $8.5 million, the school system over $10 million and Bartlett Regional Hospital would lose $6.2 million in Medicaid funds.

    “Based on this loss, we’re still evaluating what it could mean for CBJ. That figure is equal to about 8 percent of CBJ’s overall revenue, so how do we fill that gap? We would reduce services and programs, raise taxes, and try to absorb some cuts with savings. Likely, if it comes down to it, it’ll be some combination of all three,” City Manager Rorie Watt said. “Juneau Assemblies have managed our municipal finances to avoid precipitous swings in services and taxation and this budget proposal would undo 20 or more years of hard work in one fell swoop.”
    The University of Alaska system faces more than a 40 percent cut. These reductions will lead to job losses, fewer programs and services, and the potential for residents to leave Juneau. The economic impact of the loss of the ferry system on coastal Alaska is unknown, but likely disastrous.   
    “Cuts this large to local government, schools and the University of Alaska would have a dire impact on Juneau’s economy. Ninety percent of CBJ’s general government budget is funded by taxes, like sales tax and property tax, that is dependent on the economy,” Watt said.
    Watt said it’s important to remember that budget information will evolve over time. “It’ll evolve at the legislative level. We’ll evolve our own understanding of the impacts. But if you’re feeling anxious or panicked by this, channel that sense of outrage and concern by doing something – engage in the legislative process, contact all state legislators, reach out to the governor’s office, advocate for what you think makes sense.”
    He added: “It is important that the legislature and Governor clearly and promptly convey a sense of direction; absent that information, Alaska could suffer economic contraction simply from the fear of budget uncertainty. We call on our elected officials to provide timely guidance.”
    The level of cuts being proposed in Governor Michael Dunleavy’s state budget would have a devastating impact on local communities, including Juneau. As the state budget process moves forward, information will evolve. This is an initial look at how the City and Borough of Juneau, as well as the Juneau economy, could be affected directly. The impacts on other communities are likely to be equally dismal.
    •    The City and Borough of Juneau would experience a direct loss of about $8.5 million in the fiscal year 2020 from state programs that are proposed for elimination. This equates to an 8 percent cut in CBJ’s overall revenue. Where $8.5 million comes from:
    o    $7.1 million in school bond debt reimbursement
    o    About $800,000 in community assistance (formerly called state revenue sharing)
    o    About $400,000 in shared fisheries taxes

    The schools would likely see larger class sizes.


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