ANCHORAGE, (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy has released $20 million in funds for K-12 education approved by the Legislature in 2018. The release does not impact the ongoing dispute over school funding for the 2020 fiscal year.
In January, the governor proposed holding back the one-time $20 million funding measure, citing the state’s $1.6 billion deficit. The Legislature did not approve withholding the funds and the governor’s office says the money will be released with around three weeks left in the fiscal year.
“This is a good first step,” said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, in a statement. “I sincerely appreciate the governor’s decision to distribute these funds. It’s my hope that we reach quick resolution on the bulk of K-12 education funding for next year, sparing parents, educators and students from further uncertainty.”
The Legislature, with the exception of the House minority caucus, says that schools have been fully funded for the upcoming fiscal year after a forward funding measure passed in 2018. Kevin Clarkson, the Alaska Attorney General, wrote a formal opinion arguing that an appropriation needed to be added to the FY2020 operating budget.
A legal battle to resolve the dispute between the Legislature and the administration looks all but inevitable.
“If the state doesn’t transfer funds to public schools in July, we will ask the court to issue an injunction and allow state funding for schools to continue while the issue is being litigated,” Stevens wrote.
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