FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2015
Senate Slashes Education Funding, Fails to Adopt Revenue Neutral Proposal
Senate Democrats propose amendments to lessen imminent class size growth, amendments fail on caucus line votes
JUNEAU – With fewer than 24 hours of consideration, the Alaska State Senate has slashed nearly $50 million of Base Student Allocation funding. While beginning debate on the operating budget this morning, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) offered an amendment to restore the $47.5 million schools funding cut found in the Senate Finance budget. The amendment failed 15-5 with only Senator Gardner, Senator Dennis Egan (D-Anchorage), Senator Ellis (D-Anchorage), Senator Donny Olson (D-Anchorage), and Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) voting to support basic classroom services for Alaska students and avoid large increases in class sizes across Alaska.
“The budget reflects our priorities in dollars. My number 1 priority is providing opportunity for our children. Education is opportunity. It drives our economy and incubates innovation. More importantly, properly funding education is the right thing to do, I am disappointed my colleagues failed to support the amendment,” said Senator Gardner.
Recognizing the substantial deficit Alaska currently faces, Senator Wielechowski offered a second amendment to restore education funds slashed in Senate Finance, but offsetting the cost with a short delay in oil tax credit payments. Alaska will pay $700 million in oil tax credits this year, while only taking in $300 million in production tax payments. His amendment would have delays tax credit payments until a future date.
“It is a sad day. Oil tax credits for outside corporations come before Alaska school children,” stated Senator Wielechowski.
Amendment #2 also failed to be adopted on a 15-5 vote, with Senators Gardner, Egan, Ellis, Olson, and Wielechowski voting in favor of the delaying oil tax credit payments in order to stave off drastic and adverse cuts to public school classrooms.
For more information contact Myer Hutchinson at (907) 465-5319.