Dunleavy to restore pre-K, Headstart grants


Gov. Michael Dunleavy announced today that he’ll be restoring grants for pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs when he signs the Operating Budget later this week.

He made the announcement at RurAL Cap, a statewide nonprofit organization that works on behalf of low-income Alaskans.

Alaska Head Start serves some 3,000 young children ages birth to age five in 100 Alaskan communities.

Programs that Dunleavy will not veto include:

  • $6.8 million to Head Start Grants
  • $1.2 million to Early Childhood Grants
  • $474,000 to Parents as Teachers Grants
  • $320,000 to Best Beginning Grants

Although the governor had originally vetoed or reduced some of these expenditures, the Legislature put funding for them into a new Operating Budget appropriation bill, HB 2001, which effectively reversed nearly all of the governor’s vetoes.

The funds to be restored include $2 million already in the budget for pre-kindergarten grants and $4.2 million in unspent grants left over from the last fiscal year. The Department of Education has has provided pre-k funds to districts since 2009. The pre-K grants are not considered statutory core services of the Department of Education.

Additional background provided by the Governor’s Office on these programs:

Head Start programs provide free and comprehensive early childhood programs for children meeting federal poverty guidelines between the ages of 0-5. DEED has been providing State funds for grantees that may be used towards their 20 percent match since 2001. 80 percent of funds are provided by the federal government. The remaining 20 percent match can be met through a variety of fund sources and a waiver option is available. In FY19, funding was disbursed to 17 organizations, including RurAL CAP Head Start, Kawerak Head Start, Chugiak Children’s Services, and Kids Corps. Inc.

Parents as Teachers is a collaboration with Department of Health & Social Services Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program that provides support for early learners from 0-5 by empowering caregivers through personal and group visits.

Best Beginnings is a public-private partnership that mobilizes people and resources to ensure all Alaska children begin school ready to succeed.

“I want to thank you for all the work that you do,” he told the child care workers at RurAL Cap. “You can continue to do the good work you are doing.”

A reporter for the Anchorage Daily News asked Dunleavy why he “created all this chaos.”

Dunleavy responded, “We were hoping this would take place in April. This pushed into August and that was unfortunate.”

Why make cuts in the first place? the reporter asked.

Alaska has a $1.6 billion deficit, Dunleavy responded. “We have to talk about what we value. Our approach, as you know, was to try to reduce the budget, but to get feedback from folks about what they really value.”

He said, “The majority of Alaskans voiced their opinion the kids and seniors were important, and those funds. But there will be several programs that are cut when does sign the budget later this week.”

“You don’t get to this point unless you veto, you don’t get the conversations we’ve had unless you veto.In the past we’ve been saved by price and production. Most people realize we cannot continue to spend from our savings,” Dunleavy said.


  1. When asked by a Juneau Empire reporter about this Dunleavy replied: We had to find a way to get Alaskans to decide what is really important to them, the governor said.
    There you have it folks, Dunleavy had no idea that Alaskans valued their seniors and children without creating this chaos! Heheh!

    • I suppose you would rather have elected officials who think they know what the people want without actually knowing what the people want like Edgmon and Giessel. 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. Some people are never happy and cried when Dunleavy first announced these vetoes, and these same people cry when he announced he would not veto the restored funding. 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.

      • What I would rather have is someone with an inkling of what is going on before doing what this Gov. did with the budgetary process. All he did was cause a bunch of chaos and had ended up caving to those legislators who did know what the people wanted (because they went out and listened to them).
        There will be much gnashing of teeth but it just comes down to this governor reading the tea leaves and knowing he is behind the 8-ball in almost every regard. This recall situation is probably behind what is occurring and has nothing to do with Dunleavy suddenly wanting to know what the people want-he is being forced to eat his own doings, plain and simple IMO.
        So, Four-flusher, go ahead and try to spin this however you want but in the end it is just a cave to the reality that this Legislature has forced his hand.
        Now, to the vetoing of that $1600 dividend. Heheh!

          • It’s right up there^ Bill, since you forget so soon I will copy and paste it for you, what I said was “Sometimes when trying to have a conversation the other party simply throws fits and cries and wants nothing to do with the conversation” I suppose I should have added in childish name calling to that.

          • Well Four-flusher, what you are complaining about is exactly what Dunleavy was doing with his objections to Legislature’s restoration of his budget cuts. It does seem that he (Dunleavy) is starting to see the light, since he is vulnerable to Recall.
            Like I said, you are just trying to spin this cave by governor as something good. Tough noogies.

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