November 06, 2004
"Our schools and our students deserve a predictable level of state funding so that good teachers are rewarded with a 'thank you' at the end of the year instead of a pink slip," said the governor. "Early, stable funding will let our school districts focus on teaching rather than on money."
School districts have seen dramatic increases in retirement system costs, personnel costs due to new labor contracts, fuel expenses, insurance expenses, and other day-to-day costs. Many districts have been forced to reduce staff, trim programs, and increase class size to compensate for the budget increases.
If approved by the Legislature, this two-year funding plan would also shelter education from end of session budget fights and give schools more certainty in budget planning.
The initiative would increase the student base allocation to $4,869 in fiscal 2006, which begins July 1, 2005, and increase the per student amount to $5,174 in fiscal 2007. The per student allocation within the foundation formula is currently set at $4,576.
"Education is one of my top priorities and I've put my money where my mouth is. This school funding proposal would mean my administration has delivered on a 29 percent increase in per student education spending during our first four years in office," Murkowski said.
The increase includes $38 million in fiscal 2006 and $39 million in fiscal 2007 to cover increased retirement system costs for school districts. It also includes an estimated $24 million in increased funding for fiscal 2006 and $25 million the following fiscal year to cover increases in day-to-day costs such as insurance, fuel, and other fixed costs.
"We know what our schools need right now to educate our children tomorrow. Let's give it to them now, let's not make them wait," Murkowski said.
The Senate Majority reacted positively to Governor Frank Murkowski's plan to increase funding to classrooms across Alaska and strengthen the retirement plans for the educators dedicated to teaching our children.
Senate President Ben Stevens (R- Anchorage) and Majority Leader Gary Stevens (R - Kodiak) both say education will be a top priority in the upcoming session.
"Providing the extra dollars to local school districts early means teachers and administrators can focus on providing a better education to our kids, instead of worrying about how many teachers will get pink slips next spring," says President Stevens.
Majority Leader Gary Stevens adds, "We are glad to see the Governor taking the initiative on early K-12 funding, just as we did last session, the Senate Majority plans to make education a cornerstone of the 24th Legislature."
The Legislative session begins in Juneau on January 10th.
Department of Education & Early Development: