University president: Governor's cuts 'a policy choice'

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen says Gov. Mike Dunleavy's budget proposal that makes sweeping cuts to university funding is a "policy choice for Alaskans, not a fiscal necessity."

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Johnsen wrote to staff, faculty and students Wednesday, countering the Republican governor's letter to the university community Monday.

Dunleavy characterized the university funding reduction as a 17 percent cut to the overall university budget rather than a 41 percent cut in state funding, which he wrote had been inaccurately reported. Both amount to a $134 million cut.

Johnson wrote that Dunleavy justifies the cuts by citing the projected $1.6 billion deficit for the coming fiscal year, but his budget includes a $1.9 billion appropriation for full dividend payouts of the Alaska Permanent Fund.