House majority, Senate committed on plan to omit school funding from budget

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The governor pledged Tuesday evening not reduce K-12 education funding if the Legislature added an appropriation into its Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

“This year we won’t look at reducing the size of the education budget,” the governor said on Tuesday during an online town hall meeting. “We will not veto that funding in any form or fashion, we will let that funding go through.”

Leadership of the House majority caucus, and in both caucuses in the Senate, remain committed to omitting funding for schools, saying a forward funding measure passed in 2018 already funds education.

“We think, in conjunction with our legislative attorneys, that we are in the right,” said House speaker Rep. Bryce Edgmon Wednesday afternoon.

In April, the Alaska Attorney General sent draft legal advice to lawmakers saying he believed that decision was unconstitutional, and that a spending item would need to be in the FY2020 budget.

Lawmakers said they had separate advice from the Division of Legislative Legal and Research Services, that relying on forward funding was constitutional.

Edgmon said if the Legislature “essentially capitulated” to the governor as to whether forward funding education was a dedicated fund, it “could have some impact down the road, for sure.”

Daniel McDonald, the press secretary for the Senate majority, said the caucus was in agreement with the House majority over the decision to continue omitting an appropriation for schools from the budget.

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