Governor seems unimpressed with education spending bill, plans press conference Tuesday

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy put out a message on X/Twitter on Monday that indicates he’s not entirely thrilled with the massive spending package for education sent to him by the Senate and House.

“My initial review of the education bill is that it falls far short of improving outcomes for students. It appears to do the same thing we have done for decades – just spend more money. It doesn’t support the Reads Act, it fails to improve access to public charter schools, and it does nothing to recruit and retain teachers. We can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results,” he wrote.

SB 140 has a quarter billion dollars of new education spending every year going forward in the $680 base student allocation, the largest boost to the spending formula in at least a decade.

That BSA spending is essentially a blank check, with no accountability measures in it to ensure better outcomes in Alaska’s failing schools. With some of the highest spending in the nation, students in Alaska still score at the bottom in almost every measure, except for charter schools, which are performing well in Alaska.

The governor is planning a press conference on Tuesday at 12:45 p.m., sources said, and SB 140 is going to be the topic. Whether he decides to sign or veto the bill in whole or in part, or whether he wants something from the Legislature in order to sign the bill will certainly be the top question reporters have for him.

The Senate put out a statement saying it is happy with the bill, but the announcement from the supermajority makes no mention of revenue sources. The only place to get the money is from Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends, which were cut by three-quarters by last year’s Senate.

SB 140 stripped out language to help charter schools thrive, and eliminated the governor’s priority, which was a retention bonus for teachers in Alaska. The teachers’ union did not want that bonus, possibly because it is outside the union’s ability to assess for union dues.

Some analysts say the bill’s funding for the Reads Act, which is to help students learn to read at grade level, is structured in such a way that it doesn’t really help, as it just goes into a district’s general funding pot.

27 COMMENTS

  1. This Bill is a pile of crap.
    Veto Veto Veto
    Call the Governor’s office and ask him to pay the PFD, not GCI. Demand accountability for new funding.

    907-465-3500 Governor’s office

  2. The Education Governor will look foolish if he vetos a bill that will bring internet to rural Alaska, the Legislature has him in a corner

    • Fixed it for you.

      The elected Governor of the people will look prudent when he vetoes a bloated bill that would eliminate competition and innovation regarding the internet and rural Alaska.

  3. How will spending more money guarantee better outcomes when retaining the same cast of fools who got us here in the first place?

  4. Sure this education bill is a stuffed union pig. But if Dunleavey gets his hands on some of this money, he will do equally stupid stuff with it. Like spend it on the $500 million West Susitna Access Road to Nowhere. Give the money to the people. Bigger PFD.

  5. “The teachers’ union did not want that bonus, possibly because it is outside the union’s ability to assess for union dues”. What does this mean???? This doesn’t even make sense. Do you know how we, as teachers, pay our dues should we decide to become members of our local associations/NEA-Alaska?? You don’t know how it works.

      • Teachers are not the only staff members contributing to the education of children. Giving teachers this bonus does nothing for all of the other staff that make a school run (paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries, to name a few). Would I, as a teacher, appreciate the bonus??? Sure. Is it going to keep me doing the job that I have been doing for 22 years? No, I go to school every day to teach my second graders because I love my job. I would rather see a reasonable increase in the BSA so that we can see an increase in our salary scale that will be a long-term retention and recruitment tool for the district.

      • Ha ha! I did see the “possibly.” Minimal research would educate someone on how teachers become members and have dues paid. A little further research would have likely found information from “the union” to explain their position.

    • You don’t have to pay dues though, I never paid a teacher’s due in my life and I know very few who did. In the end, negotiations happen at the superintendent and school board level and they decide what you get. The teachers representative was only a pawn.

  6. The Legislature appears to have acquired a severe – perhaps fatal – case of Bidenism, a disease of the mind that causes a policymaker to think that any and all problems can be solved by appropriating as much money as possible to satisfy the special interests and rent-seekers complaining most loudly about something. Bidenism – a cancer if there ever was one – works at the federal level because the feds can print/invent as much “money” as they want without thinking about the revenues needed. (Eventually, metastasized Bidenism will kill the United States.) (For some reason, Ukraine keeps entering my thoughts…) Bidenism does not work at the State level because, to some degree spending must tie to revenues eventually.

    I cannot predict how this will ultimately turn out but suspect that the Governor may be sharpening his veto pen.

  7. Can’t believe GCI has our legislature so whipped.

    It’s called Starlink…. any “rural broadband” bull$hit peddlar needs to get with the times. We are subsiding a dinosaur, a useless dinosaur with private jets.

    • I thought there is a ton of money from the feds to get rural areas online. If the feds are funding it then what is this money for?

  8. Hello……..Governor Dunleavy! This isn’t a bill for the children or the students. It’s a bill for the teacher’s unions. Just say it like it is. The Democrats aren’t going to like you whatever you say or do. So just say what it really is and veto the crap out of it when it gets to your desk.

  9. Under Dunleavy’s leadership, education in Alaska has thrived, growing positively based on all metrics of evaluation. Test scores climbing every year, hoards of teachers arriving here to teach, schools maintained to perfection. The envy of the nation. We’re so lucky…

  10. Time to elect new legislators who understand that money doesn’t grow on trees and that teachers should be paid for results, not just showing up. Start with Senator Kathy Geissel, who apparently has sold out to the unions in her quest to become the next governor.

      • Excuse me, if one is a public paid educator, they are on the hook as well as the parents for the educational outcome. Their performance is just as important as the parents. Typical fake teacher 100% blaming the parents. More or less it should be 50/50 effort. You seem upset that charter schools and home schooling is exposing how lazy or indoctrination minded public educators are. What was the rank Alaska scored when you claim to have been a educator?

  11. The additional $500 funding for each K through grade 3 student that does not read at grade level is a disincentive to improve reading. Why would a school district want to teach children to read at grade level IF it were to lose that $500 per student? That’s a no-brainer. The more K through grade 3 students that cannot read at grade level, the more money the district gets.

  12. Governor,
    Please veto this abomination, and no overturning any veto legislators.
    These legislators have lost their common sense with this money grab.
    Do not CONTINUE TO throw our hard earned money at a problem. We cannot afford stupidity.
    There need to be measurable metrics in place for every student to LEARN. Our citizen kids and grandkids deserve to be able to read, write and do math at their grade level, according to their age, just like we did.

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