July 10, 2019

A Model of Irresponsibility
Alaska Governor Dunleavy's Budget for University of Alaska System Hurts the State

Washington, DC -- Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy has used his line item veto authority to gut the budget for the University of Alaska system. His veto stripped about 41 percent, or $130 million, from the budget, which will inevitably result in the termination of important research and education programs at the nation's only arctic university. The budget was cut to ensure that the state would not have to raise taxes or trim payouts from the Alaska Permanent Fund--an annual payment to residents from oil revenue.

"These cuts are shortsighted. It is hard to imagine how this action will not drive young Alaskans to flee the state," said Robert Gropp, Executive Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The legislature had already included tough cuts to the university budget, but those were manageable. "This is a move that will hinder the state's future, including opportunities to grow and diversify its economy, for decades to come."

Some reports have suggested that as many as 1300 faculty and staff will lose jobs.

According to media reports, the governor's defense of these devastating cuts to the state's flagship university system was: "We can't continue to be all things for all people."

"The governor's justification is deeply concerning," Gropp said. "The University of Alaska system benefits people across the state in many ways, every day."

The state's tight financial environment is in part due to the collapse of its oil economy. Investing in higher education is the key to strengthening the Alaska economy. Research and education fuel new opportunities.

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