Dunleavy sends education mega-spending bill back to legislative drawing board

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In Alaska’s legislative budgeting cycle, nothing is final until the last gavel slams down, and the bill goes into law — or not.

The controversial Senate Bill 140, passed by the House and concurred with by the Senate, was rejected by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday, and that means the Alaska Legislature must either come up with a better bill, or the governor will veto SB 140. The Legislature has 14 days to send him a new, improved bill — one that has at least some of his priorities — or he said he will veto this one.

He wasn’t bluffing. A headcount shows that he has the votes to sustain a veto. The Legislature would need 40 votes, and is short at least three to override his promised veto.

There are other bills can serve as vehicles for some of the good measures that were in SB 140, Dunleavy said today.

Speaking of slamming, Dunleavy lit into the NEA teachers’ union for killing the teacher incentive bonuses he had wanted in the bill. He criticized the educational establishment for not supporting the great outcomes now being proven in charter schools, another aspect that was axed by the final bill version.

Dunleavy said the section of the bill that was to help improve reading was wholly inadequate, since reading scores in Alaska schools are at crisis levels. Alaska ranks 49th in education, and Dunleavy was hoping for major education reforms in the bill that went sideways before it got to his desk.

Dunleavy spent much time at the podium reading parts of an Anchorage Daily News editorial that supports his approach to education funding and reform.

After holding forth for nearly an hour in his Anchorage conference room, Dunleavy said that he appreciated the House and Senate for working on education so early, but that they send hm a three-legged horse that is “not going to run very far.”

While the governor did not actually put the veto pen to the bill on Tuesday, he made it clear he will do so, rather than let it go into law. If the education establishement wants an increase to the basic funding formula, he said, they are going to have to “help get these items across the finish line.”

He thanked the House for putting together the omnibus bill.

“I understand why the House voted to pass this bill out, because many believed it was the best thing they could get. I get that,” he said.

The final bill version voted on had been negotiated by Rep. Jesse Sumner of Wasilla in secret meetings with the Senate and Democrats, and sprung on the unsuspecting House majority.

Alaska Democratic Party took credit for the bill passing with a large increase to the Base Student Allocation. Posting on X/Twitter, the party wrote: “This major victory would not have been possible without the unwavering and unequivocal support of Democratic elected officials. Republicans in the Alaska State House fought us every step of the way until they saw it as a political win – but we never stopped fighting.” They didn’t mention Rep. Sumner’s work or give him credit.

However, it was the Republicans in the House that voted for the BSA increase of $680 per student, with the exception of two legislators, who balked at the flawed bill — Rep. David Eastman and Rep. Mike Prax.

Dunleavy said, “The bill is incomplete. Why not fix it? I think there were a number of legislators who thought this was the best they were going to get. I don’t think so.” He suggested his office and legislators work together and get a much better bill, and that there are two weeks to do so.

During questions from reporters, Dunleavy said, “There’s going to be a substantial BSA, there just is,” signaling that he is willing to add to the basic formula for spending, but he also is demanding the support for reading programs, charter school options, and teacher incentive pay.

29 COMMENTS

    • Yes he is. Our rural schools are falling short due to massive inflationary costs in insurance, transportation, and utilities. Our elementary teachers are working overtime implementing the Reads Act. We are working daily to improve educational opportunities for our young people, and we know hard decisions must be made consolidating in some places. Please offer us the opportunity to pay our teachers a living wage. We are begging you all to support solid financial support for our rural teachers.

  1. Throwing more money at education never fixes the baseline problems. The money always ends up in the upper tiers and never makes it to the kids. Abolish the Department of education all together. Return the school to the parents. Due away with the unions, and you will have better teachers with higher salaries, with much incentive to educate your children. Fire the indoctrinators right out of the gate. Parents, you need to take a stand for YOUR children. The government is not the parent, YOU ARE !!!!

    • Your are correct.
      The politicians just can’t resist spending us into the poor house.
      I said years ago that the politicians will bite and claw their way to stealing our PFD.
      They don’t know how to say cut.

    • this is insane—it would give abusive and bigoted parents unilateral power over their children’s lives, wouldn’t it? If it’s only in the hands of parents there’s no standard, and nut jobs will be free to teach their children creationist propaganda.

  2. Thank You Governor, You have focused on the three items that say “Accountability” a hex word to the educational union. The three run counter to the union motto of “One for All and All for One”, meaning failed teachers must be protected. I quote from a management article, the definition of how this works:

    “Groupthink occurs when individuals in cohesive groups fail to consider alternative perspectives because they are motivated to reach a consensus which typically results in making less-than-desirable decisions.

    For example, group members may ignore or discount information that is inconsistent with their chosen decision and express strong disapproval against any group member who might disagree.”
    ‘https://www.simplypsychology.org/groupthink.html

    I can sympathize with the Governors intent. It will be interesting to follow this subject to its conclusion. It would be a ground shaking moment if in the end the Governor prevails. More, if successful in its intent.

  3. Alaskan taxpayers and parents support you governor. The decisions made by the Anchorage School District and the School Board let us off of fiscal Cliff, much like a child, spending his allowance the second day after receiving it. Juneau is starting to tackle their issues. Perhaps it’s time for Anchorage to follow suit.

    • It is long past time for ASD to start to shrink the infrastructure that sucks up millions and move into a building that will only hold 1/2 the administration. Lose the other 1/2. Anchorage taxpayers could, in no way, support the incredible level of spending by ASD, without federal printed money that adds to the debt and state money that robs individuals of their PFD.

  4. When is enough not enough? Dunleavy is greedy and wasteful bar none. Today there are many accounts of Covid money still assigned to each school district that has not been used. Why not? Why is it kept without being used or put out there for the public to see. Dunleavy has, as always used poor judgment in this and many other matters. His poor judgment shows in this to get back on track with more and more money. Has anyone in the legislative body ever asked themselves what is wrong with this guy? He’ll drive everything to the edge and watch is fall off the edge. He has a finished product. Now take the money and get busy putting it where it needs to go!!

    • Wow, your statements are ridiculous. cOVID money came from the feds both the state.
      The Governor can’t do much to any districts since e have one of the strongest local controls in the US.
      So please put forth facts instead of spewing hate at a person you truly do not know!!

  5. Or Dunleavy can just let the State of Alaska head into it into its own grave providing it with the shovels to dig its own grave. Lessons are best learned when when one hits rock bottom.

  6. Dunleavy is the weak sister in the room. The Leg has the votes and the will to steamroll him.

    During his term as Gov, he has proven many times over what all watchers have acknowledged ever since he was a do-nothing Senator: he’s kinda dumb.

    Please, please will someone deliver us a clear-thinking, carefully strategic politician who can deliver us conservative values to Alaska? An Alaskan version of Ronald Reagan, for example?

    • Wow, your statements are ridiculous. cOVID money came from the feds both the state.
      The Governor can’t do much to any districts since e have one of the strongest local controls in the US.
      So please put forth facts instead of spewing hate at a person you truly do not know!

    • Hmm dumb? Well I guess all the voters that voted for him are dumb since they elected h twice and last time over 50 percent! First Republican ever elected twice to governorship! Yeah, he is the dumb one, you!

      • Or, and more likely, it speaks to a combination of lax standards by GOP voters and the pathetic nature of his competition.

    • if you’re conservative you’re not a real alaskan, because you support policies that ultimately harm the people here. alaska was blue in the 70s, and it will be again!

      • Where is your proof that Alaska was blue in the 1970s? That was the beginning of the take down of Alaska. Alaska was – and is – a conservative state and it will stay that way. What we are dealing with now is not even a matter of “red” or “blue,” we are dealing with a group of people that are so evil and they want to take down the world. The good people of Alaska will not let the evil win.

  7. I watched the presser from beginning to end. Dunleavy made a strong case to get a comprehensive plan into law. As was the usual case, the NEA and the unions were not on his side, as I can see from a couple of posts here. He also said he was open to working with the legislature to get the missing items into 140. At the same time, he didn’t want to sign a money bill with no substance, which is pretty well what was passed. I hope that the legislature will work with him so that true accountability and innovation can prevail. Alaska’s kids need it. I know that home schooling works because a friend of mine educated her 5 children through high school, then found scholarships for all of them to complete university educations. They all now have masters’ degrees in their chosen fields. So it does pay to have a full compliment of ways to educate the kids for their benefit. It is high time that the legislature works with the governor in a truly bi-partisan matter for the benefit of all Alaskans. Let’s see it start with putting the rest of the items in the omnibus education bill. Please.

    • And, I am sure you can name dozens of other politicians that offer much more. In fact, please… let us all know Frank, what politician do you think offers something more than BS? Com’n name a few folks.



      Thought so, nothing useful delivered once again from the anonymous troll hiding behind a name that could mean anything.

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