University ‘students’ sue Dunleavy (with support of UA president) over fate of unused public monies in higher ed fund


If the special Alaska budget sub-fund called the Power Cost Equalization Fund cannot be “swept” into the Constitutional Budget Reserve, then maybe the Higher Education Investment Fund can’t either.

Some University of Alaska students are testing that theory. They want the HEIF treated like the PCE fund and are asking the courts to decide the question.

It may not actually be students who are forcing the question. In fact, the attorneys handling the lawsuit are former Gov. Bill Walker appointees and Recall Dunleavy attorneys Scott Kendall and Jahna Lindemuth. They are regular litigants against the Dunleavy Administration.

In a message from University Interim President Pat Pitney, also a former Bill Walker functionary, it appears the University of Alaska may be behind the “student” lawsuit:

Gov. Mike Dunleavy asked the Alaska Department of Law to request an expedited ruling for yesterday’s lawsuit filed by the students. The funds at issue are the balance of the fund that was not used or needed to fund student scholarships in the current fiscal year. Those leftover funds were automatically, per the Alaska Constitution, placed in the State’s savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

Last year, the Supreme Court said the Power Cost Equalization Fund, used to help lower power costs for residents in rural Alaska, could not be swept in such a manner, creating a new legal standard for the Legislature that appears in conflict with the Constitution, but that must stand for now, due to the court order.

The issue in the case is fundamental to how Alaska’s public finances work and how the budget process is structured, the Governor’s Office said.

The lawsuit is at this link.

“The Alaska Constitution says after the Legislature borrows money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve, which is the main State savings account, this account is automatically paid back from other accounts, like the HEIF, to repay the fund at the end of each fiscal year.  Billions have been borrowed from the CBR.  Under art. IX, sec. 17(d), replenishment of the CBR is mandatory and not subject to control by the Governor, or the Legislature (absent three quarters vote to return the funds to the original accounts),” said Attorney General Treg Taylor.  “If a state account qualifies for the repayment obligation, and the transfer has not been reversed by the Legislature, there is nothing anyone can do to stop the transfer to the CBR. The transfer is compelled by the constitution.”  

Governor Dunleavy said that the Legislature, the University, the Executive Branch, and Alaskans deserve a quick answer from the Court System – the only branch of government that interprets the Alaska Constitution. “I have asked my Attorney General to seek expedited consideration of this issue,” Dunleavy said.

“I have supported scholarship funding every year I have been in office and will continue to do so. Alaska’s students can be assured their scholarships will continue to be funded regardless of this lawsuit,” Dunleavy said.

This story will be updated once Must Read Alaska gets a copy of the actual lawsuit.


  1. This imbroglio is all due to Article 9, Section 17 Budget Reserve Fund of the Alaska Constitution which was enacted in 1990. The Legislature has already perverted the clear meaning of this clause by draining the CBRF with no regard to the constitutional requirement to re-pay it. To pull this off, the Legislature ignores the funds available in the PFER which are “available for appropriation” and available anytime to re-fund the CBRF. The result is they can raid the PFER with a simple majority vote and not have to contend with obtaining a 3/4 vote to raid the CBRF (again) or use that vote to hijack the budget process.
    The “sweep” is a legitimate constitutional requirement and the Legislature can always re-appropriate the swept funds every year or make a single appropriation to a quasi-government institution outside of the control of State.
    This is all part of the even bigger problem the Legislature has still needing to deficit spend to pay the Dividend or step on the third rail of Alaska politics by acting responsibly.

  2. Someone please show me where the US Constitution expressly delegated authority to “interpret” the Constitution. It doesn’t. The courts may have court rules and motion practice. They are not a quasi, secondary legislative branch. They need to stay within their delegation and bounce this back to the legislature for clear language.

    • Article 3, Section 1:
      “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
      Section. 2.

      The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made….”

    • G Aleutian – The citation I gave was for the US Constitution which you had asked about. But I wonder if you misunderstood the original story – it is concerning the Alaska State Constitution not the US.

  3. Not even a thinly disguised joke of a lawsuit. UA students have been in zoom classes for two years and have no clue what is at stake. This is another attempt at election year politics over the the budget and over the Dunleavy v. Walker for governor campaign. Pat Pitney works with Scott Kendall behind the scenes to keep Big Mike constantly uncomfortable. The one who should really be uncomfortable is the disgraced, corrupt, former governor Bill Walker ……Pitney and Kendall’s boss. Walker picked a pedophile running mate in 2014 and then Walker failed to rescue the teenage girl victim when he was in a position to do so. THAT is worthy of an investigation and a lawsuit against Walker. A conspiracy of silence that forced Walker out of the governor’s race in 2018. Walker is corrupt to the core, and will use anybody he can to discredit Governor Dunleavy.

    • Snowflake lawsuit. Undergrad Zoom students, who know nothing about the law or legislative budgets. This sounds like a pro-Walker campaign. Let’s see…….who was the corrupt, former governor’s Budget Director? Ah yes, Pat Pitney……current UA President.
      They don’t even try to disguise it.
      Stick to academics and shooting your rifle, Pat. Bill Walker is tainted goods and will bring you down with him in 2022.

    • These students are all being thoroughly brain-washed and trained to think like Lefties. There are no critical thinking skills taught in the UA system. With so much money available to students, especially Native students, in the form of federal loans, why does HEIF even matter? This is an effort to gang-up on Dunleavy by Marxist UA administrators. Another Scott Kendall operation, inspired by the crooked, little former governor Bill Walker. Students should take their federal loans and pray like hell that Biden will shove through a loan forgiveness plan. Stick with your studies, all of you little incubater Communists.

  4. This is what Dunleavy gets for caving in and giving back money to the UA system three years ago. It was his ONLY victory they session and he gave it back.

    Small wonder Walker (truly a cancer on this state) sees Dunleavy as vulnerable. When the going gets tough, Dunleavy goes down like cheap socks. Problem is he can’t hide behind Ben Stevens anymore.

    If Dunleavy had a spine (he doesn’t) he should cut all UA funding to the minimal Constitutional level. Make the UA brats sell or lease their lands. Like they are supposed to.

    Dunleavy and Walker. Those two deserve each other.

    • MA: So you favor fewer educated Alaskans. There are two advantages I see. One, less state spending. Two, typically, the undereducated vote republican. The less education you have, the more easily conned you are. Trump knows this.

      • You should refrain on any comments regarding intent or education since your reading comprehension is so sadly lacking.
        I’ll type slower….
        The UA system should use its land grant status to pay its primary way, as it was designed to.
        How many Alaskans choose to go into higher education is up to them.
        You’re not just a troll, you’re a bad one at that.

      • Side note to the troll. Play cute with me at your own risk. This is an area I know far, far, far better than you have any idea.
        But I have a feeling you don’t know 1/3 of what you don’t know, you probably can’t help yourself

      • This is very funny! I watch the PBS Newshour just about every evening and this elitist tripe is exactly what Judy Woodruff recites; that Republicans are stupid, dangerous, armed dolts. One can also hear it on Public Broadcasting. For myself, I see a clearer distinction but a different one. I think that Republicans are just as likely to have a college education (not that having one is all that meaningful) but Republicans are certain to have earned theirs whereas Democrats are very likely to have had their college education paid by government or their parents. Democrats are more likely to be porch monkeys, and it’s as simple as that. A clear distinction. BTW, it’s entirely possible to have a college education but be uneducated, and one only need evaluate the University of Alaska or look at government to have that demonstrated!

      • The big con seems to be emanating from our higher educational institutions. CRT, gender confusion, Communism, and etc seems to have originated from there.
        Our higher education was one of the first targets for weakening America for a NWO takeover.
        Bible says that the lesser educated are blessed. The more educated become arrogant elitists, and are the most prone to being deceived, most likely to engage in group-think.
        The lesser educated make individual errors in judgment. The more educated make cumulative errors in group-think judgements.

      • Evan, you make the egregious mistake of confusing ‘education’ with intelligence and wisdom. Nowadays, the former is much more often than not at odds with the latter.

    • Mike Dunleavy is like Bill Walker, except more deceitful and better at stealing PFDs. At least you know you are getting socialism when you elect Walker

  5. Of course this lawsuit is filed by the UA prez… More govt subsidies mean she can raise tuition and fees and still have a few “students” – prez & staff get pay raises, everybody (but you & me) happy, happy, happy… If prez can poke a sharp stick at Governor Mike, the even happier she is. Get the corruption out of UA and let the market do its work.

  6. Of course someone had to try to tie the PFD into a money grab by the UA system.
    Obsession is a sad thing.

  7. While I have struggled somewhat with the notion of a Constitutional convention, this issue has sealed my decision to vote AGAINST one. The Constitution we have is not currently followed as written nor as intended. Nothing in it stands that cannot or has not been legislated, ordered, translated, ordinanced, or adjudicated away. I cannot possibly hope that anything remotely productive or beneficial to my natural rights, bestowed to me by my Creator, could possibly be improved by throwing it all back onto the drawing board and then into a voting booth. Nothing but increased confusion, disorder, animosity and disunity can come from such an exercise. Leave the Constitution alone, and follow it.

  8. Amazing we see the same names here, time after time. Kendall and Lindemuth. The added one is Pitney’s allegiance to corrupt Walker. He has done nothing for the State of Alaska the last 3 years except to sabotage his successor, Dunleavy. Is this the actions of someone who has the welfare of Alaskans at heart? This is precisely the way Alaskans should evaluate him. While they are at it, flush Kendall, Lindemuth, and Pitney down the same toilet with Walker. Politics is bad enough without downright skullduggery to drive away good people from even running anymore. I am frankly surprised that Governor Mike is running for re-election. But I suspect that he is a great deal stronger than people realize.

  9. Bill Walker is a truly loathsome individual. He’ll gladly burn Alaska to the ground to rule its ashes.

  10. Always funny to me when “enlightened liberals” attempt to equate a college degree with intelligence.

    Let’s see a “studies” major build a house, manage the books, and keep the inventory rolling.

  11. I’d wager the average plumber knows the constitution better than the average college student.

  12. If either of those two dolts (Dunleavy and Walker) actually gave a damn about Alaska or educating Alaskans they would be funneling money and influence into Tech Education.
    Alaska doesn’t need most of what comes out of modern higher ed: “studies” majors, social workers, actors, ect.
    What Alaska needs are plumbers, carpenters, steam fitters, welders, mechanics, miners.
    Those professions don’t require going into six figures of debt and pay much higher to boot.

  13. I’ll take it an unpopular step further. Based on the “results” of Alaska’s K-12 scores, most Alaska kids have no business going to college right now.

  14. This is in fact the court system weighing into the state fiscal discussion without any basis in the constitution for doing so. That is, the PCE should be swept according to the court even though it’s an appropriation like any other. The court has chosen PCE over AMHS, plowing roads, fighting fires and other responsibilities of government, but the constitution does not grant that authority to the court. What the court has done is only one step away from the court deciding that before education funding can be reduced (or perhaps before funding can fail to keep up with inflation) there must be an income tax. I look for the court to soon choose funding something over the PFD. This is also the court taking away from the House Republican Minority all the funding autonomy it has, and that autonomy was given to the Minority, as it exists today, by the constitution. This is the court deciding that Stutes, Merrick and Rasmussen must be supported in their decision to disenfranchise the rest of the House Republicans. This is the court winging it. At its most extreme implication this is the court inviting processes outside the law, and doing that is always bad.

  15. It is curious that Rodell was fired but Pitney remains. If Pitney had improved any University metrics similarly to the Rodell record then that might give us pause, but all she has done at the University is demand money and spend money.

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