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The idea of slow-moving government employees working just a bit faster than snow melts in April is a tried and true American comedy trope. Most of us chuckle watching the fast-moving rabbit police officer in Disney’s “Zootopia” struggle with cartoon sloths at the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles and remember those times we’ve had a poor interaction with some functionary in some government office.
With the 2018 election behind us and the new legislative class elected, our representatives head to Juneau in the near future. Many ran on promises of reining in government spending. Some have even worked to find ways to better manage our public purse in the past. With more than 17,000 full and part-time employees, the amount our state government spends to administer programs and provide public services should be closely examined.
How do Alaskans know that their government is using public money effectively? How do we know we are getting the best bang for our buck? During the budget debates in early 2018, members of both the House and Senate dug deep and uncovered more than 1,500 “funded but unfilled” positions, according to Rep. Cathy Tilton’s office, the total cost of which added more than $150 million to the budget. Dozens of amendments with specific cuts were introduced, only to be summarily dismissed.