Survey: Southeast business leaders pan Dunleavy budget priorities

Gov. Mike Dunleavy at the Capitol on March 7, 2019 (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

A questionnaire sent to business leaders across Southeast Alaska found deep misgivings over the governor’s approach to balancing the budget.

Among other preferences, a majority supported reducing the projected $1.2 billion dollars in oil tax credits, trimming the size of PFD checks, increasing the percentage of Permanent Fund earnings used to pay for state services and instituting a state-wide income tax.

Cuts to core services like public schools and the state ferry system or a state-wide property tax were ranked lowest.

The business climate survey conducted by Southeast Conference.

Meilani Schijvens of Rain Coast Data said the Southeast business community sees cutting state services and jobs as counterproductive.

“They’ve looked at the austerity measures that have been presented in the budget and the governor’s budget and they say, ‘You know, that’s not going to be good for the long term health of our businesses and our communities,’” she said. “And so, ‘Here are the other ways that we prioritize balancing the budget before we start making cuts.’”

Southeast Conference is a regional economic development organization based in Juneau. This year owners and managers from 320 businesses in 25 communities responded to its annual survey.