Annette Kreitzer painted a false picture with regard to the offers she made to state employee unions. A 4 percent increase for the General Government Union may be more than they have had in years, but she conveniently ignores the fact that over the course of the past 20 years, state salaries have actually decreased by 40 percent when compared to the Anchorage consumer price index.
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During most of those years, oil revenues were down, and negotiators for the administration kept repeating that they could not agree to normal increases because the state had no money. But this implies that if the state had the money, they would agree to normal increases. Yet now that the state is flush with money, the administration refused to offer increases that would begin to make up for lost ground.
This is a disservice not only to state employees, but the entire community. For years, I have regarded Juneau as an economically depressed town. The reason it is economically depressed is that state employees have no disposable income. But while salaries have not increased, the cost of living in Juneau has continued to rise, especially housing and heating fuel. No wonder people are leaving Juneau. No wonder the state cannot attract good employees or retain good employees. No wonder the state has a 20 percent vacancy rate.
Yet when the governor established her working group to make recommendations about why it can't keep good employees, she, in effect, told them not to consider salaries. In effect, she told them to ignore the elephant in the room. Thus, she and Kreitzer are doing all of us a disservice - not just state employees, but Juneau as a community, and indeed, the entire state.