Dunleavy spams University of Alaska staff, students with same-old budget spin

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has picked up on the falsehood from his temporary budget director that the 41 percent cut to the University of Alaska budget is "only" a 17 percent cut. It’s a “haircut,” the Republican Party blog claims.

In fact, it is a beheading.

The Dunleavy so-called “honest budget” is nothing less than an attack on the University of Alaska and the public school system.

In an unprecedented action, the governor’s office decided to spam all staff and students of the University of Alaska with political spin to try to justify his radical budget.

They need a second letter to correct all the false and deceptive claims included in his unsolicited missive to 23,000 Alaskans.

Dunleavy has proposed cutting the University of Alaska appropriation by 41 percent. He is trying to disguise the depth of this cut by claiming it is a 17 percent cut overall, repeating an inaccurate claim from temporary budget director Donna Arduin.

“I don’t pretend that 17 percent isn’t significant; I know that it is,” Dunleavy wrote. “However, it is not the 41 percent reduction to the overall budget that some are reporting.”

The overall cut is much greater than 17 percent, because the reduction in the state appropriation would trigger a cascade effect.

Every other dollar in the university budget is generated by tuition, federal grants and other sources that are available because of the financial foundation created by the state appropriation. These funding sources are inter-dependent.

The 41 percent cut would lead to a reduction in tuition revenue, as students would disappear. The 41 percent cut would lead to a reduction in federal grants, as professors who earn them would disappear, with their grants.

The 41 percent cut would lead to reductions in matching funds, restricted funds, indirect cost recovery, auxiliary funds, and federal funds that are only available because of the state appropriation. These additional cuts would lead to a greater reduction in tuition and a cycle of decline.

During his campaign for governor Dunleavy promised that he would not cut funding for the University of Alaska. It was just something to say.

He failed to mention that campaign promise in his letter or tell students what their tuition should be.

He failed to give any hint that he has a vision for education or that he recognizes the opportunities the university provides for Alaskans and what the institution could mean to Alaska’s future.

Dunleavy has no explanation for the massive cut, other than the same weak excuse given for every budget cut from the ferry system to public broadcasting and health care—the state has no money and he opposes taxes.

“The previous administration burned through nearly every dollar in the state’s savings account,” Dunleavy said, neglecting to mention the years he spent on the Senate Finance Committee helping burn through billions in savings, while blocking taxes along with Sen. Kevin Meyer.

Dunleavy says that legislators are free to set priorities, as long as the budget balances. “My administration is agnostic on this,” he says.

The Alaska Agnostic should confess that the budget fantasy of his campaign never made any sense and still doesn’t.

The state needs taxes, a cap on the Permanent Fund dividend and elected officials who recognize that we can’t afford to dismantle the University of Alaska or destroy the public schools.


From Dermot Cole: I created this blog in late 2017 to help fill a void in the level of political commentary and analysis, drawing upon what I’ve learned in reporting on state and local government in Alaska since 1976. The readership has been growing and I want to thank everyone for the encouragement along the way.

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Dermot Cole12 Comments