Governor vetoes half of school funding increase
June 21, 2023
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday vetoed half of the $175 million increase that legislators appropriated for school districts across Alaska — cutting back the first boost in state funding for K-12 public schools in more than six years.
The Wrangell School District had expected to receive an additional $425,000 in state aid for the 2023-2024 school year under the Legislature’s budget plan. The governor’s veto cut that by 50%.
State funding covers about 60% of the district’s roughly $5 million operating budget, with the rest from the borough and federal programs. The borough contribution is limited by state law, and Wrangell is at maximum local funding.
The district in recent years has been drawing on savings to cover its budget and is spending the last of federal pandemic relief payments. Wrangell, along with districts statewide, had spoken in strong support of an increase in the state’s per-student funding formula.
Lawmakers were unable to agree on a permanent boost to the funding formula before they adjourned mid-May, and House and Senate leaders compromised on a one-year increase — which is what Dunleavy vetoed in half.
In signing the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, the governor also reduced legislative funding for Head Start, the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and multiple other items.
“This budget is a responsible path for Alaska’s financial future,” Dunleavy said in a prepared statement. “Budgets should reflect the values of Alaskans.”