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Alaska Children’s Budget shows education hit the hardest by state funding

As Florida continues to take in children, the foster system needs money to take care of them. (Pixabay)
As Florida continues to take in children, the foster system needs money to take care of them. (Pixabay)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 1:47 PM AKDT
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shows state spending focused on children is one of the lowest in the country.

“Alaska’s children are struggling, their well-being ranked among the worst in the nation,” said Alaska Children’s Trust President & CEO Trevor Storrs. “It’s time to prioritize our children. Overall, we see a gradual decrease in Alaska’s direct investment in children and families, which will result in greater negative impacts and costs in the years to come.”

Compared to the lower 48, Alaska ranks 45th in the nation according to the

.

The data compiled by the Anne E. Casey Foundation shows Alaska is:

  • 33 in economic well-being
  • 49 in education
  • 50 in health
  • 21 in family and community

The highest-ranking Alaska had in the Kids Count was 27 back in 2015. Since then Alaska has seen a steady drop.

According to the Alaska Children’s Budget Report, of the Alaska State FY 2020 operating budget of $9.38 billion, $3.14 billion is children’s budget spending.

To give some context, according to the report that’s 33.5% of the operating budget.

Breaking it down into the four categories focused in the 2019 Kids Count, the FY ‘20 operating budget shows $1.87b is spent on education, $0.81B on health, $0.28B on Family and Community and $0.18B on economic well-being.

One of the hardest-hit categories seen in the report is education.

Looking at data pertaining to the FY ‘20 Capital Budget, Jonathan King, Children's Budget Lead Researcher, said: “As you can see we’ve gone from spending almost $170 - $180 million a year on infrastructure related to the children’s budget down to that something less than $8 million.”

King added, “Essentially what we’ve done is stop building schools, we’ve stop building playgrounds, we’re just not investing in those things that we were supporting our children with earlier in the decade.”

When it came to looking at the UGF (unrestricted general funds) of the FY 2020 capital budget, the information shows that there is no funding.

“There is no unrestricted general fund spending dedicated to children in the FY 2020 capital budget,” King said. “That really reflects just the state’s fiscal situation and the lack of money that the state has to invest in children.”

Alaska Children’s Trust says there are five ways the Alaska Children’s Trust budget report can be turned into action.

A few of the ways are:

  • Focus on upstream policy choices with significant downstream benefits.
  • Maximize federal dollars flowing into Alaska’s economy just as we do for the non-children’s portion of the budget.
  • And
  • Develop a statewide plan focusing on child well-being and reversing Alaska’s slide in the KIDS COUNT metrics.

Alaska Children’s Budget reveals State spending focused on children is at its lowest in a decade while our kids are...

Posted by Alaska Children's Trust on Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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