Alaska Revenue commissioner resigning, cites difference of opinion with the governor

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Friday, the Department of Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman submitted his resignation to the governor's office, writing that the governor needs someone "100% aligned with his vision."

Tangeman, who was appointed by the governor in November of 2018, will still oversee the upcoming fiscal year 2021 budget and the rollout of the fall revenue forecast. The governor's office states that Tangeman will stay in his position until a replacement is found, "to ensure a smooth transition."

“Bruce has dedicated a significant portion of his life to public service and I thank him for the outstanding work he has done within my administration. His leadership and oversight of the Department of Revenue enabled many lasting changes and efficiencies. His character and strong work ethic have been a valuable asset to our team,” the governor said in a statement. “I wish him all the best for his future endeavors.”

In an opinion piece published in the Anchorage Daily News, Tangeman writes about the state’s fiscal situation and the governor’s efforts to reduce the deficit by slashing state spending. His article gives hints of why he might be leaving his position at the Department of Revenue.

He writes that the governor has given latitude to commissioners with the goal of best serving Alaskans.

“I have been blessed with the best Department in the entire state and I really wish it was that simple. But my Department will be at the heart of all discussions this session as it usually is and I want the Governor to have someone who is 100% aligned with his vision,” he wrote. “I have therefore notified the Governor that I will be resigning from his cabinet.”

He also wrote that a broad-based tax would be likely in Alaska but “this decision should be years if not decades down the road. My concern is that once a tax is on the books, the budget at that time will be the new base going forward.”

Tangeman's resignation letter to the governor did not clearly mention a difference of opinion from Dunleavy on how to tackle the state’s deficit.

“Alaska is fortunate to have all the key pieces in place to solve our fiscal situation. We have a tremendous future as long as we are able to remedy our fiscal situation through a sustainable plan,” he wrote to the governor. “I commend you for the challenges you have undertaken and I truly believe you have the best intentions for Alaska’s future.”

Tangeman does mention in his letter to the governor that “it has become apparent that the appetite by many for the level of budget reductions required to balance this math equation will be difficult to realize. However, I know you will continue to aggressively pursue the downsizing of government in order to bring the math equation into balance for the generations that will follow.”

In a video posted on Facebook Thursday, the governor said that he was planning a series of town hall events and Facebook Live town hall events ahead of releasing the fiscal year 2021 budget.

The governor’s video shows him seeking for Alaskans to help give input into how the state’s budget should be formulated.

“As we know last year, we had a number of budget reductions, almost $600 million,” the governor said. “And this caused some concern amongst many Alaskans, some Alaskans felt like we had gone too far, some Alaskans felt we didn’t go far enough.”

“This year we have time, I want to make sure as we go through this process that we get it right,” he said. “How much do we want to reduce? Are Alaskans willing to look at revenue measures?”

According to state law, the budget must be released by the governor before Dec. 15.

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