Another day, another court loss for Dunleavy administration

ANOTHER LOSS: The Dunleavy administration lost another important legal case Thursday, this one about education funding.

Attorney General Kevin Clarkson's goofball claim that forward funding of education was an improper dedication of funds was soundly rejected by Juneau Superior Court Judge Daniel Schally.

The state violated its "duty to faithfully execute the law by failing to execute the forward-funding appropriations," Schally wrote.

In keeping with the political origins of this dispute, Clarkson plans to appeal the ruling.

This started because Dunleavy wanted to veto more than $300 million from school funds, but was prevented from doing so because the 2018 Legislature funded schools for this fiscal year in spring 2018.

Clarkson invented the idea that the forward funding was improper and falsely claimed that there was no legal appropriation for schools as an attempt to get the Legislature to appropriate money that the governor could veto.

“If education is not funded this year, it’s on the Legislature, not the governor,” Clarkson wrote in Alaska newspapers in May.

The scare tactic didn’t work.

Rather that acknowledge that the money could not be vetoed, the governor and his AG chose to fight in courts, claiming the political fight is about principle.

As a candidate Dunleavy promised no cuts to school funding. In February, he promised the largest education cuts in state history, meaning big increases in class sizes and widespread layoffs. He offered false statistics to back up his claim that Alaska schools are failing and need massive reductions.

State lawyers and legislators a year ago saw no legal problems with funding schools a year in advance. Legislative lawyers said the law is fine, as did most legislators.

Even the Dunleavy adminstration raised no constitutional objections early this year. One of the major flaws in the Dunleavy strategy was that his administration accepted this forward-funding plan in documents submitted to legislators earlier this year and did not mention any constitutional objections.

"Failing to fund education in the budget ignores the constitution," Dunleavy said last May, adding that "it creates a situation where education will not be funded after June 30, 2019."

He was wrong.

Dermot Cole1 Comment