An odd thing happened to me on Wednesday… A left-winger tried to debate me on Governor Palin’s actual record. Considering this is not the normal sort of behavior I am accustomed to as a Palin supporter (usually things that don’t exist are the topic of my debates with the left) it shocked me.
The person who attempted to play gotcha with Governor Palin’s record, is an obscure individual on Twitter who goes by the name "Uncle Festus." At this point, you may be asking yourself why I would bother posting on a debate with an anonymous lefty who only has 15 followers… The reason for that is because he was civil, he wanted to argue substance, and if someone else tries to use his false argument, C4P readers will be equipped to answer them.
He shifted an earlier debate about whether or not Governor Palin is running for president in 2012, to the governor’s fiscal record in Alaska. He sent me the following two tweets:
Under Palin, AK Total State Debt increased from $8.3 billion in FY2005-06 to $9.3 billion in FY 2009-10. http://www.revenue.state.ak.us/treasury/programs/programs/other/debt/index.aspx
For FY2005-06, Total State Supported debt was $972.9million, in FY2009-10 it rose to $1.349billion. http://www.revenue.state.ak.us/treasury/programs/programs/other/debt/index.aspx
Now, I am very familiar with Governor Palin’s record, but I’m also the sort of person who you put a bunch on numbers in front of, and my eyes glaze over. Math was never my best subject. So, in order to answer Uncle Festus’ claims thoroughly, I thought I would message Whitney, who is more familiar with Governor Palin’s record than roughly 99.9% of the planet. She’s also pretty good with numbers. Whitney sent me the following in response (emphasis):
First off, he’s looking at the wrong set of data for Murkowski’s final year and Palin’s final year. He’s a year off. Murkowski’s final FY is actually FY2006-2007 with his budget passed in the summer of 2006. In addition to a budget, some of the other policies that might affect the debt would be in place from the Murkowski administration to some degree for that year’s debt info. This information is found here in the following year’s report: http://www.dor.alaska.gov/treasury/programs/documentviewer/viewer.aspx?428f where it says "as of June 30, 2007, the ____debt is". While Governor Palin was in office then, it was Murkowski’s budgeting term that ended in June 2007. With this, the debt then was $9.2 billion with state supported at $1.085+ billion. Governor Palin’s final year was the FY20092010 budget passed in the summer of 2009. These numbers show a state debt of $9.0 billion and a state supported debt of $1.256 billion in the report from the following year: http://www.dor.alaska.gov/treasury/programs/documentviewer/viewer.aspx?811f. The overall debt was reduced by $200 million.
Fiscal year things are confusing, then there is a delay between the Fiscal Year and the reporting with this stuff. I had to look at it a few times to make sure I understood right. There may be some influence from Palin’s policies (though not budget) in Murkowski’s final year, and the same kind of thing for Palin/Parnell. However, the debt numbers are from each person’s final fiscal year in office.
Yes, the state supported debt went up from the Murkowski to Palin administration, but it seems that they include pensions, which are always a mess. Governor Palin reformed pensions and used the surplus to help pay it down. Gov. Palin’ s second to last year (the number’s he is showing), the state supported debt is $1.349 billion–higher than in her final year. She reduced it as her tenure went on.
Regarding the surplus vs. debt thing, I think they can have a revenue surplus, but the aspect of debt also deals with pensions and bonds. It would be outside of an operating or capital budget. Also, this info seems to include municipal debt, which would be at the local level, largely outside of the influence of a governor.
It was a nice try by Uncle Festus, but he failed to make a valid point at then end of the day. Sarah Palin was a responsible governor, a proven reformer, and she has spoken many times about respecting taxpayer dollars considering where they come from.
This might also be a good time to point out that the left’s most famous politician, Barack Obama, has "plunged" this nation into frightening debt. So much so, that congress is in the middle of debating whether or not to raise the $14.3 trillion debt-ceiling at this time. While it’s great that some on the the left want to argue substance, it may be wise for them to steer clear of fiscal policy debates.
(All credit to Whitney Pitcher)