Report co-written by former Alaska budget director Arduin ranks Gov. Dunleavy 49th out of 50 governors

A white woman wearing a white shirt speaks at a wooden podium as a tall white man in a grey suit stands behind him.
Alaska Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin gives a broad overview of the budget items that Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed during a June 28, 2019, press conference in Juneau, Alaska. Arduin recently co-authored a report that ranked her former boss as the second-worst governor in the country for “economic freedom” (Sam McChesney/360 North)

report co-written by former Alaska budget director Donna Arduin ranked her former boss, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, as the second-worst governor in the country on what it calls “economic freedom.”

In a webinar on Friday announcing the report, Arduin said Dunleavy could improve his ranking by cutting state spending and working to change state policies on welfare and labor unions. 

She said Alaska’s state spending as a share of the state’s economy is four times Florida’s.

“So the spending is through the roof,” she said. “Part of the reason is because of the policies, including union control; no … education choice; welfare dependency is through the roof. So he has a lot of opportunities across the board to improve his state’s economy.”

Regarding the issue of education choice, report co-author Arthur Laffer has advocated that states pay parents for private school tuition.

The report credited Dunleavy with trying to reduce spending, for not introducing an income tax, and for an attempt to end state collection of state employee union dues that’s stuck in a legal battle. But it considered cuts to Permanent Fund dividends — which the Alaska Legislature passed over Dunleavy’s objection — as a form of taxation. 

Dunleavy’s office called the report “well researched” in a written statement that added: “It is no secret that Alaska has taken decades to reach this point due to overspending.”

Dunleavy’s office notes that the report ranked him third in spending policy and 13th in his handling of CARES Act funds. His office also says input from the Legislature and the courts is needed to change the union and welfare policies. And Dunleavy also believes the Legislature also must cooperate on education to make improvements.

Arduin was Alaska’s budget director for nine months after Dunleavy took office. She helped write Dunleavy’s first budget proposal, which drew strong criticism from lawmakers and members of the public. It also drove a recall campaign. 

She recently helped lead a two-day seminar in Alaska. Organizers said 36 Republican and Libertarian legislators and candidates attended, according to the Anchorage Daily News

The report was published by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which promotes conservative state legislation.