Alaska’s legislators failed Wednesday to override Governor Mike Dunleavy’s veto of budget legislation that cut $130 million, or 41 percent, from the state’s appropriation for the University of Alaska system, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Although the vote was 37 to 1, the Legislature fell short of the needed 45 votes with nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers absent from the state Capitol.
Higher education leaders in Alaska and beyond have bemoaned Dunleavy’s decision and warned about the impact it could have not only on the University of Alaska but on the state’s economy and long-term prospects. Dunleavy said the cuts to higher education and other programs were necessary to return a sufficient dividend to the state’s residents from the Alaska Permanent Fund.
Jim Johnsen, the university’s president, said last week that the university “cannot absorb an additional, substantial reduction in state general funds without abruptly halting numerous student career pathways midstream, eliminating services or shutting down community campuses or universities.” And the university’s regional accreditor said that cuts of the magnitude Dunleavy plans “could have disastrous effects, including the potential loss of accreditation, that could be felt for generations.”