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Huge Budget Cut for the University of Alaska

June 29, 2019

Mike Dunleavy, Alaska's Republican governor, used a veto on Friday to strip $130 million from the University of Alaska system's operating budget, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The slashing follows a $5 million reduction by the Legislature, and would be a roughly 40-percent cut to the system's total state support.

The Legislature could override Dunleavy's veto. But that appears unlikely, the newspaper reported. The governor made the cut largely to free up funding for Alaska's Permanent Fund, a dividend the state pays to its residents based on oil revenue.

“We can’t continue to be all things for all people,” Dunleavy said in a news conference Friday.

The cuts would be devastating to the system, said Jim Johnsen, its president. Roughly 40 percent of the system's budget comes from the state, which already has slashed its annual contribution by $50 million since 2014.

"Make no mistake, the university cannot absorb an additional, substantial reduction in state general funds without abruptly halting numerous student career pathways mid-stream, eliminating services or shutting down community campuses or universities," Johnsen wrote in a recently published opinion piece. "An additional reduction of even $10 million -- on top of the $51 million in cuts we’ve already taken -- will mean the discontinuation of programs and services with little or no notice, and that in turn will have ripple effects, damaging UA’s ability to generate revenue and causing even greater harm across the state."

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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