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Senate Seeks to Resolve Education Funding Impasse


March 20, 2004
Saturday - 1:30 am

The Senate took action Friday to work toward compromise on a bill to increase education funding.

"We are still resolute that discretionary capital projects are not appropriate for this package," said Senate President Gene Therriault (R-North Pole). "We want to see if there is an opportunity to work out differences on education funding. We believe education is the type of priority that warrants a three-quarters vote on the Constitutional Budget Reserve."

"I also want to reassure districts that the amount of the increase is not the sticking point. We are high-centered on whether education funding should be tied to non-education discretionary capital projects," Sen. Therriault said.

Gov. Frank Murkowski has also expressed support for a clean education bill.

By a 16 to 2 vote, the Senate rescinded action on Senate Bill 35, which was then sent back to the Senate Finance Committee for further work. It is scheduled for a hearing in that committee on Monday.

SB 35 would provide an additional $82 million to K-12 education. The House has passed a measure, Senate Bill 283, that would also provide an increase, but that bill contains an additional $9.9 million in non-education related capital projects.

SB 35 provides the governor's recommended funding for public K-12 education and the University of Alaska. It would appropriate an additional $82 million to K-12 and an additional $5.8 million to the university with a three quarters vote to tap the Constitutional Budget Reserve. The CBR draw would make up possible shortfalls in the FY 04 and 05 operating budgets; restore money to be transferred into the CBR on June 30, 2004 under a constitutional "sweep" provision; and cover $125,000 for the CBR's 2005 investment management fees. It is contingent on passage of further legislation to adjust the base student allocation in the state's foundation formula, which would be required depending on the amount of funding approved.

SB 35 unanimously passed the Senate March 8 but the effective date vote, requiring 14 votes, failed 11 to 7, and the CBR vote, requiring 15 votes, failed 11 to 7.


Source of News Release:

Alaska Republicans
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