WHY YES, HE DID. TWICE.
In a live broadcast Facebook event today, Gov. Michael Dunleavy made a surprising statement: If the House and Senate put education funding into the budget, he won’t veto it.
During a nearly hour-long interview, where he took questions from viewers and answered them while sitting with press secretary Matt Shuckerow, Dunleavy said twice he would not veto education funding, if only the House and Senate will put the education funding into this year’s budget. His surprising quote comes late in the interview:
“As it regards to K-12, what we have said to legislative leaders here recently is, make sure that you fund education, make sure it’s in the budget, because there’s questions right now whether there’s funding in the budget, and we’re having those discussions, and this year we won’t look at reducing the size of the education budget … if they put the funding in it. So we can have this conversation over the summer and into the fall. Again, make this coming year an education year, an education reform year, where we all work together to see how we can change things to get the outcomes we all know we should have for all kids, regardless of what school, or school district, or part of the state they are in.”
He continued, restating his point about not vetoing education funding:
“Although we originally proposed reductions in education, what we have said to legislative leadership is: Put the funding in, make sure there is funding in the budget and we will not veto that funding in any form or fashion, we will let that funding go through. Again so we can have that conversation going into next year as to what reforms we want to look at for education.”
The governor has said, and the attorney general has agreed, that the intent to appropriate education funds last year for this year are not actual appropriations, and are therefore unconstitutional.
Dunleavy has said that without an actual appropriation from the Legislature, he won’t be able to release funds for the coming school year.
The reason the House and Senate have not put education funding in the budget this year is they are afraid the governor will veto that funding. So they’re relying on a budget appropriation from a year ago, a method called “forward funding.”
The problem with the forward funding is that it did not have actual funds attached to it. It was more of a conceptual funding promise, depending on revenues that would come in later.
It’s likely this matter will end up at the Alaska Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of forward-funding when there has been no money actually set aside.
Tonight, the governor removed that concern from their plates by saying he will not veto their education budgets. He put no conditions on that statement.