By now, most of us have heard the line, “We could cut every state employee and still not put a dent in the budget gap.”. The implication is that we should not cut any state government and protect every state job at all costs. How much is Alaska’s payroll? How about more than $2 Billion. There are 17,400 employees on the payroll and an additional 4,995 in the University system. Although it is very difficult to figure out just how many there are in any part of the State government.
This is especially true when it comes to the University of Alaska system. Just last week, the chancellor of UAF stated that the Fairbanks campus had 7,000 employees. Then there are the “other agencies such as AHFC, Alaska Aerospace Corporation, AIDEA, etc. Another factor to consider is how many of the funded positions are actually filled by a warm body. The State uses a vacancy factor of somewhere between 4 to 5 % in each department which means that these positions are funded but vacant. What becomes of this funding if the position is not filled during the fiscal year?
Bottom line: one must know the right question to ask in order to get the correct answer.
Here is a chart that my friends at United For Liberty put together to show the funding of the various Departments and the growth in those Departments’ budgets since 2006. The yellow column shows the inflation adjusted number–i.e. what the budget would be if only inflation were taken into account. Note the white column which shows the increase above inflation.