The University of Alaska could lay off more than 1,000 and cut dozens of programs, thanks to a dramatic slash in money it gets from the state – a 41% cut from a line-item veto by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
University officials say the $130 million cut could prove disastrous for Alaska’s future, endangering local economies, school employees and rural programs for Alaska Native students. They have pleaded with the Legislature to override the veto but say they have little hope that will happen.
Higher education observers have been watching the fight in Alaska closely. To some, the budget cuts represent an attack on the value of college.
On June 28, Dunleavy, a Republican, vetoed more than $400 million in items in Alaska’s budget, seeking to balance it. A third of the cuts came from higher education spending.
The Alaska Legislature met on Wednesday to vote on whether to override Dunleavy’s line-item vetoes. Only 38 lawmakers convened in Juneau, the state capital, not enough to reach the necessary 45 votes to stop the cuts. The Legislature has until Friday to take action and avert the cuts.