Dunleavy downplays impact of extreme University of Alaska budget cuts

The Dunleavy administration and its apologists continue to try to downplay the impact of the 40 percent cut in state funding to the University of Alaska, claiming it is only 17 percent, repeating an inaccurate statement from temporary budget director Donna Arduin.

“I don’t pretend that 17 percent isn’t significant; I know that it is,” Dunleavy wrote earlier this year. “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 chain reaction that would reduce almost every other source of funding.

That’s because every other dollar in the university budget is generated by tuition, federal grants and other sources that are available only 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.

The veto by Dunleavy is close to the amount of state funds that go to the University of Alaska Southeast and the University of Alaska Anchorage combined.

Dermot Cole1 Comment