Alaska’s financial picture isn’t getting any brighter

  • Thursday, May 7, 2015 7:59pm
  • Opinion

As the economics of the state’s budget deficit trickle down, local governments are now faced with having less to spend — and making tough decisions on how to hang on to the funds they do have.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is facing the biggest impact as it already was facing a deficit, and proposed cuts exacerbate the situation — particularly as the district budget was formulated before many of the cuts were proposed. And the school district remains in fiscal limbo as the Legislature approved a budget but has yet to agree on funding for it.

Meanwhile, the district is looking to the borough government for help that in years past would have come in the form of a last-minute allocation from the Legislature — the proverbial rabbit pulled out of a hat. The borough assembly opted to leave the rabbit in the hat for the moment, approving a resolution to allocate $46 million to the school district, a number below the maximum amount the borough is allowed to contribute. Should the assembly decide to revise that number upward after the Legislature finishes with the budget, the additional funding would only put a dent in what could be as much as an $8 million school district deficit — though the school district’s savings would at least stretch a little further.

The state’s financial situation doesn’t just impact the school district. The city of Kenai has been squirreling away funds for the past several years to address bluff erosion. Some of that money comes from state grants that, if unused, will lapse next year. City Manager Rick Koch noted that the Legislature did not re-appropriate any funds this year; lapsed funding went back into the state’s general fund.

Kenai Peninsula residents also heard directly from elected representatives on Tuesday, however, and their message was that as deep as cuts have been this session, things are going to be even tougher next year. And they made clear that, when it comes to using state savings, they would remain conservative in their approach.

In other words, while entities that rely on the state for a significant portion of their funding — such as the school district — may be able to hold off on significant cuts this year, they’re coming.

While the start of the next budget cycle is a few months away, organizations need to start implementing contingency plans immediately, because — barring an unexpected turnaround in the price of oil — the only way to have some funds in reserve for next year will be to spend less this year.

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Most Read