ANCHORAGE – The Alaska Superior Court issued an order Thursday evening that ruled against the governor’s attempt to reject the Legislature’s forward funding of K-12 education.
The court ruled that legislative action to remove uncertainty for schools by passing a two-year school budget is constitutional: “The Alaska Constitution vests the governor with the responsibility ‘for the faithful execution of the laws,’” Judge Daniel Schally wrote. The governor and his administration “therefore have a constitutional obligation to execute the (Legislature’s forward-funding) appropriations.”
While this is a victory for schools that historically have been plagued by budget uncertainty, a problem that contributes to statewide struggles to recruit and retain teachers, the Dunleavy Administration is expected to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
“We forward funded K-12 education last year because students, parents, teachers, and administrators deserve to have the resources they need to be successful every year, and so that schools have the ability to develop budgets for the coming year in a timely fashion,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) said.
Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage), who co-chairs the House Education Committee, added, “The Legislature has a long history of forward-funding education because providing stable funding to enable student success is obviously the right thing to do. It’s unfortunate this issue had to be decided by the courts, and disappointing that the attorney general is wasting public resources by appealing this case to the Supreme Court, but I’m pleased by yesterday’s decision.”
“The Dunleavy Administration created multiple constitutional crises this year by attempting to erode the separation of powers that is the cornerstone of democracy. We must always fight to protect strong executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and that is why the Legislature is defending its right to establish state priorities through the budget,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage). “The Superior Court ruling is encouraging, and our attorneys are prepared to make this important case to the Supreme Court.”
Communications Director, Alaska House Majority