ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Hundreds of people showed up to the University of Alaska Anchorage on Tuesday for a Save Our State rally in support of overrides of Gov. Mike Dunleavy's line-item vetoes.
"We gotta protect each other, you know?" said Eric Howk, of Portugal. The Man. "If Alaska gets the rug pulled out from under it, no one's going to stand there and catch it."
Dunleavy announced in June approximately $450 million in vetoes following his initial budget proposal that was released earlier this year. The line-item vetoes included what would be a 41 percent slashing to state funding of the University of Alaska services, which could potentially directly affect some 700 staff and faculty members and nearly half of the programs it currently offers.
"I essentially have a one in two-shot of my program not being here next year," said Alex Jorgensen, a student organizer of the event, "Which is... I don't think words can describe whether I'm angry, sad, depressed. The university means so much to the Anchorage community and Alaska as a whole."
"To be able to jeopardize an entire institution - the only public higher education institution in the state - is incomprehensible to me," he said.
Among the crowd were at least 45 groups in favor of overrides, a decision that lies in the hands of a legislature split between Wasilla and Juneau. While many across the state agree that the vetoes are necessary, there were few to no protestors at the event Tuesday.
Additionally, since the announcement of the vetoes, Gov. Dunleavy has repeatedly defended them, citing what he's said is a $14 billion draw on savings to fund subsidize the government, and that as such, "fundamental changes had to be implemented."
"The state's fiscal reality dictated many of these changes," he said upon release of the vetoes with the public last month. "Ultimately, the decisions that were made were difficult, but we feel that the state government will still be able to deliver essential services to Alaskans."
The governor has also said that the University of Alaska is "resilient," and that university leaders will be able to work out ways to manage adjustments in the budget.
Read more about the governor's budget vetoes by clicking here.
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