Breaking: Cuts to University System: $70 million over three years

University of Alaska

Gov. Michael Dunleavy today signed a compact with the University of Alaska, which says the governor will only veto $25 million from the system this year, $25 million next year, and $20 million the following year, for a total of $70 million over the three years of the agreement.

The University System will continue its path toward a combined accreditation system, and will continue working with the federal government to obtain more land, which it could use to raise money.

In a press conference with University of Alaska System President Jim Johnsen and Board of Regents Chairman John Davies, the governor reiterated his earlier statements about the need for a conversation about the budget. His original cut to the university system was $135 million in one year.

When he ran for office, North Slope oil was selling for $80-$85 a barrel, but by the end of December, it was down to $55 a barrel, and Dunleavy said had to take a more keen look at the budget to adapt to less revenue.

UA President Jim Johnsen described it as a “pivot to the positive” and said the system would continue to consolidate in human resources and technology, for example. The average position at the university across all campuses is about $100,000,  including health benefits, he said.

“We’ve been working for some time on an agreement with regard to funding of the university, Dunleavy said. The talks started in January and will continue.

Consolidating to single accreditation is not required by the compact signed today.

Under the terms of the compact, the university will report to the Office of the Governor and the Alaska Legislature no later than Dec. 4 of each of the three years of the agreement regarding progress the university has made on these items:

  • Operating cost reductions.
  • Administrative overhead reductions.
  • Strengthening the role of community campuses.
  • Growth in monetization of university assets.
  • Enrollment and degree/certification completion rates.
  • Campus safety and regulatory compliance.
  • Research income.
  • Other non-State income increases, such as tuition, philanthropic gifts.
  • Development of university lands.
  • Technology investments to lower costs and increase access.
  • Structural consolidation and consideration of single accreditation.

In exchange, the governor has agreed to:

  • Support budget amounts agreed upon.
  • Support expanded full-enrollment of college-ready high school students.
  • Support FAFSA completion of high school students
  • Continue support for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant programs.
  • Explore more appropriate structure for WWAMI appropriation.
  • Be open to discussions surrounding inter-appropriation transfers and pursue single-appropriation structure consistent with the Board of Regents constitutional authority.
  • Continue $1.2 million each year of the agreement for facility debt reimbursement.
  • Support land grant transfers.
  • Support increased collaboration between state agencies and the university.
  • Consider other budget items that support university transformation.

Sen. Scott Kawasaki of Fairbanks called it “extortion” on Twitter. “The @UA_System is supposed to be independent. Why should it now be politicized? And subject to a budget created by 2 when the legislature is the appropriating branch of government?” he wrote.


  1. Expenditures must equal revenues???

    And yet another backtrack on the University budget. Sorry Dunleavy, I was a big supporter…not anymore. No backbone = no more votes from me.

  2. This is actually a good move because even drug addicts need rehabilitation; glad to see the university system effectively communicate with our Governor.

  3. Dunleavy-
    I supported you. Now you have caved just like every other politician. Show me that recall petition, and I’ll vote for you again…this time to recall you!

    • Phil, did you mean its time to recall the governor? If so, I agree with you. He has failed us. He’s just kicking the can down the road. Here come the taxes.

  4. Oil just went over 60 a barrel today…$61.32—resuming its over $60 per barrel that it had fallen under during the first week of August as the trade war stoked fears of souring oil demand growth….We will see if it rebounds. Now a full statutory dividend would be great for the private economy considering the public sector continues to boom like UAA up 105 Million in one day since it could have been steeply cut. Will they adjust and learn or continue to scream for our mineral rights along with their land grant…

  5. Garnishing almost another $1 billion or so from the people’s PFD this year will free up more money for the bureaucrats salaries and pension crisis…hence the “kow tow” we are seeing to regents at the University.
    Isn’t Government great in Alaska?
    Looks like the new boss is the same as the old boss!

    • Who’d a thought they would change the system right after you and a bunch of others drove all the way up here to get at that free money?? Heheh!
      Papa Pilgrim was one of the first to get on board.

      • “Marx argued that the capitalist bourgeoisie mercilessly exploited the proletariat.
        He recognised that the work carried out by the proletariat created great wealth for the capitalist.
        He described how the wealth of the bourgeoisie depended on the work of the proletariat.
        Therefore, capitalism requires an underclass…”

        • Were you attempting to make a point here, Steve?
          What work is it that PFD recipients are doing for that free money, besides occupying space?

          • Bill,
            Your one track mind only thinks of who “worked” for it and who is “freeloading”.
            The reality is the effects of targeting the most vulnerable in the state (of which I do not consider myself) is that they will further show up on the streets, in ER’s and commit crimes to meet their basic needs.
            Shifting wealth from the lowest incomes up to the “bourgeois” is a classic “maxist” example of the end stages of colonial capitalism throughout the world.
            Undoing vetos to the university system while maintaining vetos to medicaid and other social service programs along with garnishment of half the PFD only moves those in poverty quicker to the “underclass”.
            This is all covered in philosophy 101 classes throughout the world.

          • Steve, your Marx bit mentions “the work carried out……..” in response to my post about folks wanting free money. I merely asked what “work” applies to this PFD situation, since you brought it up.
            This PFD situation has clearly brought folks up here to take advantage of a free money program. Papa Pilgrim is the classic first example of how the situation has gotten-are you also one who came for this free money? Too bad it’s being pulled right from such deserving souls, right?

          • Little Yackie will be first in line for his own PFD check. He’s no donator of his own money.
            Just a yipper. Yip yip……chiwaaawaaa!

          • Hey NP Patriot, my family will forego our PFDs if your family will stop using the roads and airports.

        • It’s a fact that the dividend is a classic example of an economic entitlement and is leading to perverse political decisions as recipients fight to keep it. Maintaining the dividend at its’ historic statutory level is no longer possible and undermines the intent of the 1976 constitutional amendment that created the Permanent Fund.

  6. A good start! Extremism isn’t the solution. Compromise is. Now add a small statewide sales tax, keep the PFD reasonable, and draw more from the PF to fund government and you have a formula for the long-term, healthy sustainability of the State. Remember…oil revenues will never rise substantially again. In fact, they will continue to fall every year as the old oilfields up north continue their inexorable decline. Solving the State’s funding problem for a few more years solves nothing. Do the above, and it ‘s fixed forever.

  7. Governor Dunleavy has said repeatedly that he is trying to get a conversation started, I’d say he has successfully done so and is moving that conversation and the budget in the right direction. Personally I liked the steeper cuts, but I understand the reasoning behind this glide slope approach and the numerous and long overdue reforms.

    Some people are never happy and cried when Dunleavy first announced these cuts, like Jim Johnsen. Sometimes when trying to have a conversation the other party simply throws fits and cries and wants nothing to do with the conversation, sometimes the other party finally realizes that throwing fits and crying gets them nothing and taking part in an actual conversation is beneficial to all parties.

    While some will still cry about these cuts being draconian, they are a compromise and any good compromise leaves both parties wanting more but willing to live with the results. In politics deals are made, it’s only Tuesday and we have the rest of the budget to be announced later this week. Will Governor Dunleavy make more cuts or will he restore the items he has previously vetoed and to what end…stay tuned we are only getting started.

    • He caved to the communist running UAA. I went from admiring Dunleavy to being very disappointed in Dunleavy.
      Now the liberal cancer has traction to finish off Alaska and turn Alaska into California, Michigan and Illinois. He caved to full grown liberal children who have no comprehension of living WITHIN OUR MEANS!!!
      *** If he doesn’t give us our statutory required $3,000 Permanent Fund now , I’m signing the recall. And I’m very sure numerous others will now sign the recall as well.

      Words cannot describe my disappointment !!!

  8. Governor, surrender is not an option. Going down in flames is at least honorable. Playing leverage is the game. You just lost traction for no reason. Conservative politicians caving is the problem. Libs are going to be libs, that I understand. If you planned to deliver what you promised you need to hit um where it hurts. Now, I’m not sure I can ever look you in the eye. Don’t expect much support in any further endeavor. Here is a hint, your voter base is pissed off.

    • Massive budget cuts were probably a spoof all along, and Dunleavy held out until the last minute to make it look like a compromise deal. Nevertheless, Dunleavy needs to hold strong on chopping the Cold Climate Research funding. This is where Alaska’s ultra-radical, environmental leftists hang out. Complete looney-tunes over there.

      • yes, a group of engineers and architects who diligently research/design alternative building methods and cost effective ways to build highly energy efficient structures in one of the coldest places on earth. how dare they. doesn’t get more “radical” than that.

        • You sound like one of THEM, Gary. Brainwashed. The sky is falling. Help save us from oil, coal, Trump and Dunleavy. There are only a few years left until we all choke for air and die of heat from man-caused climate warming. Damn Republicans. HELP!!!

          • CCHR is a joke. Run by a bunch of leftists who have been stealing state and federal dollars for years. According to wacko Gary, above, the architects and engineers at CCHR have the “answers ” I’ve been building homes in cold environments for decades. Our houses work just fine at 50 below. And they burn oil for heat. CCHR is run by a mob of nutjobs who couldn’t make it competitively without friends in Democrat politics. Kill the CCHR program.

          • you don’t see any merit/value in what CCHRC does. I do. people disagree. and that’s okay. despite your presumptions, I do not think that the “sky is falling.” I don’t think that we’re all going to “choke for air and die.” and i’m not blaming republicans. either reading comprehension is not your strong suit or you’ve got me confused with another commenter.

    • Whatever, he is trying to work things out, but such idiots on here, like on facebook, want to talk bad about what he is trying to do, this is what he has needed to do. Anyone who thinks he needs to be recalled or fired needs to look elsewhere and start in the legislature, who broke so many laws. Yet people calling for the Governor’s job? None of you do anything but whine.

      • Greedy single issue voters like I’ve been pointing out for months. Stoked to a frenzy by the administration.

  9. A report is circulating showing the extent of how bloated the UA bureaucracy has become.. The report includes a seemingly endless list of system administrators costing the system over $220,000/year each The system is Alaska’s worst example of government out-of-control. It is patently obscene. Phased reductions are not what is needed. A comprehensive bloodletting is in order.

  10. Wayne Coogan, I agree with you. How could the UAA system allow their Education School to lose accreditation?. Imagine being enrolled in such a program, paying tuition, attending classes for 4 or more years only to learn that your degree is a big nothing? Isn’t that fraudulent? I wonder what would happen to a business who contractually was required to provide a warranty for a division of work and failed to deliver? My guess is that the customer would stop payment for the work delivered with out promised warranty.

  11. The governor is not interested in burning down the University, just bringing it in line fiscally. These cuts are always a negotiation. The point is not to destroy the college, but get it to act responsibly- which it hasn’t, in decades.. This gives him the ability to go back for more cuts if they aren’t moving along that path. Even with these funds returned this will be the largest budget cut in the history of the state of Alaska, and the largest as a percentage of state budgets, in the country, for some time. I suspect the folks complaining here that he “caved” and or saying they’ll now join the socialists in the recall effort are a bit disingenuous or didn’t vote for him in the first place. The Pope didn’t stand up against Al-Queda as much as you liked so now you are going to join Isis? Trump didn’t repeal Obamacare so now you are going to join Antifa?

    Get real. This guy is a grown up. He’s already passed historic reform and cuts. He’s trying to fix our state and he’s got to fight the media, the left, and many RINOs in his own party. I doubt he’ll worry too much about fair weather supporters who would rather not get any progress if they can’t get exactly what they want. I think he will keep working towards a balanced budget, a sustainable university, and a restoration of our dividend. In 3.5 years, if he gets the job done, or makes significant enough progress, he’ll be re-elected. If he doesn’t, he won’t. And I assume he is totally fine with that-but I doubt he’s losing any sleep over the crazy lefties demanding a recall or any folks who peel away so easy as to have never really supported him in the first place.

  12. The recall and subsequent retreat on the budget won’t change Gov. Mike’s political philosophy. In fact it will just be a few more burrs under his saddle fueling his resentment of the “owner-state”.

    Look for a Friday news-dump on his Dividend decision.

    • One thing I do not like about the Dividend is we have come to rely on it to “stimulate” (inflate) our economy. I believe our economy would be more stable without it and encourage the development of other resources in its place.
      Then the question is what to do with the Earnings of the PF so that big government does not eat it all?
      At the base of the argument is that whatever portion of the PFER is available to pay a Dividend (or other individual annual benefit) – it must be within the average annual earnings of the PF – now determined as 5-5.25% so the PERMANENT Fund value is not eroded for future generations.
      Recently the Legislature and the Governor moved $5 Billion from the PFER to the PF corpus. As the PF grows so will future earnings. If it is possible that the PF Earnings will grow faster than the growth of State spending, then there will be enough Earnings to fund the services the people demand and also pay a Dividend.

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