House Republicans huddle for a decision on the opening day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

House Republicans huddle for a decision on the opening day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

House Republicans announce support for K-12 funding

“This is a commitment to support the full base amount through this entire budget process.”

House Republicans are asking the Senate and House Majority to fully fund the K-12 base student allocation and pupil transportation, according to a press release sent Tuesday from the Alaska House Republicans.

“Despite the need for reductions elsewhere, our caucus commits to providing for K-12 education during these uncertain fiscal times,” House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, said in the release. “This is a commitment to support the full base amount through this entire budget process.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy put forward steep cuts in education funding in his Feb. 13 budget proposal, reducing the base student allocation funding formula, resulting in a 25% cut to schools.

“Education is and will always be one of my top priorities,” Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, said in the press release. “Sending a clear message now will encourage certainty moving forward in this year’s budget cycle.”

On April 10, the House voted down an amendment to the operating budget that would have reversed forward funding of K-12 schools approved during last year’s legislative session. Forward funding is approved for the year ahead, in an effort to allow school districts the ability to plan for future budgets.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, who believed forward funding was unconstitutional. Dunleavy’s administration has also doubted whether or not appropriations made in a previous Legislature were constitutional. In an April 9 memo from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, he said: “committing a future Legislature and governor to spend future revenues on education is unconstitutional.”

“Why chance a special session on the potential for education to not be funded?” Rep. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, asked in the press release. “What do we have to lose just ensuring education is in the operating budget? Political disagreements should not get in the way of providing the best for our kids.”

The release said House Republicans stand ready to support including the full amount necessary in this year’s operating budget.

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