Dunleavy cuts $87.5 M out of education funding

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has signed the fiscal year 2024 state operating and capital budgets into law, with no specific comment about the $87.5 million he cut out of school funding, but the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) had plenty to say about those cuts.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the day after Dunleavy released details of the budget he signed, the AASB said it was “extremely disappointed and gravely concerned by the unjustified veto of half of the one-time $175 million in education funding outside the BSA (Basic Student Allocation).”

The governor defended his actions, saying that the budget he signed “is a responsible path for Alaska’s financial future.” 

Dunleavy signed the $6 billion budget into law on Monday after vetoing over $200 million of the funds approved by the Alaska Legislature in mid-May, with the largest cut being for K-12 public schools. He also made numerous other cuts in the budget approved by legislators, including $35 million in capital projects for University of Alaska facilities, $1 million for rural public radio, $2.5 million for marketing tourism and $3.5 million for Head Start programs for young Alaskans.

Public school officials statewide voiced their concerns in comments to the independent, nonpartisan news organization Alaska Beacon, including Bill Hill, superintendent of the Bristol Bay School District, who said he felt that Dunleavy was sending a message that “education is going to take a back seat to whatever his priorities are.”

Dunleavy, who spent nearly two decades in northwest Alaska as a teacher, principal and school superintendent, has declined a number of requests for interviews, choosing to stick to his prepared statement that the budget is fiscally responsible.


AASB, noting the governor’s former career as an educator, said they found it “incomprehensible to think that a former educator and school administrator would be willing to jeopardize the future of Alaska’s youth and, frankly, his own agenda to make our state the best place to raise a family.”

Dunleavy’s only comment on the vetoed items, including in his announcement about signing the budget, was that “budgets should reflect the values of Alaskan(s); the FY24 budget accomplishes that.”  The governor said his administration would continue to invest in public safety, public education and economic development, and that he looked forward to working with Alaskans “to establish a long-term, sustainable fiscal plan.”

AASD called the veto of $87.5 million from the budget “a significant setback,” and expressed hope of efforts to convince legislators that those cuts “were unwarranted and short-sighted.”

“As an Association of Alaska School Boards, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to step forward as champions of public education and say enough is enough,” the AASD said.