Delegation wants notice before jobs move away

Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2008

Juneau should have a heads up before any state job leaves town, according to members of the city's legislative delegation.

The House State Affairs Committee got its first look Saturday at a bill sponsored by Reps. Andrea Doll and Beth Kerttula, both Juneau Democrats, that would require the state to give public notice 30 days before state jobs are moved, including those moving in and out of Juneau.

Doll said the bill would promote transparency in government. But an official for Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, who has been a vocal proponent of open government, said the bill was over-stepping the state Legislature's inherent powers and was trying to "micromanage" how the executive branch ran things.

"It's kind of a slippery slope and we're just not comfortable having to provide that kind of information," said Jack Kreinheder, a senior analyst with the governor's Office of Management and Budget. "We don't think it's an efficient way to run state government, essentially,"

Kreinheder said the Palin administration had no qualms about providing information to the public on the number of jobs that have already moved.

According to statistics provided by Doll, Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley have seen a steady increase in its share of state jobs between 1990 and 2007, while Juneau's have steadily decline. Juneau had 3,469 in 2007, down by 459 since 1990.

But Doll said that it wasn't good enough to report on moved jobs after the fact, adding that advanced notice was an essential part of having an well-run government.

She said the purpose of her bill wasn't to stop the incremental shift of jobs out of Juneau, known as "capital creep," but to shed light on proposed moves before they happen.

"People want to be involved, they want to know, they want to be a part of the process and part of the decision making," Doll said. "It's a matter of engaging ahead of time or telling somebody after the fact."

Kerttula said she didn't see how asking for advanced notice of a job move could be seen as an infringement of the executive branch's rights by the Legislature.

"It's the administration's right to decide," added Kerttula. "It's our right to know."

Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, has a similar bill in the Senate. Both measures could face an uphill battle in a Legislature that's already shown a willingness to discuss moving the state Capitol out of Juneau.

Last week, Juneau residents turned out to speak against a bill that would repeal an initiative that the costs of any capital move be known and approved by the public.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

• Contact reporter Alan Suderman at 523-2268 or alan.suderman@juneauempire.com



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