Rep. Chris Tuck

Rep. Chris Tuck
Representative
Chris Tuck

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March 8, 2019

Education is My Top Priority

Dear Neighbors,

Public education is under attack. Last month, Governor Dunleavy put forward an irresponsible budget proposal that threatens the future of our children. Rather than continuing to invest in good schools and great teachers, the Governor wants to reduce the state’s support for public education with a huge $273 million cut to the Base Student Allocation (BSA). If that sounds like a lot of money, it is. It equates to $1,100 per student taken out of every classroom in Alaska.

It’s actually worse than that because the Governor wants to break the negotiated budget deal from last year by cutting $20 million in education funding for the current fiscal year and another $30 million in education funding for the next fiscal year. The education cuts proposed by the Governor have sparked concerns and uncertainty from students, teachers, parents, administrators, and my fellow lawmakers.

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(Students with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action during their annual legislative fly-in)

The impacts of the Governor’s proposed education cuts will be felt in every school and community in Alaska. In response to the Governor’s proposal, several school districts are looking at closing schools, laying off teachers, and increasing class sizes. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is slated to lose over $20 million which is equivalent to laying off over 200 teachers. As a former Anchorage School Board member, I find it hard to fathom how the Anchorage School District will cope with a loss of over $110 million in funding.

The other area the Governor has targeted for cuts is early education. He doesn’t just want it cut, he wants all state support for early education programs in Alaska eliminated. Early education programs like Head Start, pre-K, Best Beginnings, and others are a great investment that can have a profound impact on students. Additionally, cuts to early education programs endanger millions in federal funding. For instance, RurAL Cap, which runs several early-education programs, uses $2.6 million in state funding to receive $6 million from the feds.

Key Education Cuts Proposed by Governor Dunleavy:

  • $273 million BSA cut. ($1,100 per student)
  • 19.3% cut to the Department of Education and Early Development.
  • 41% cut to the University of Alaska.
  • $1.2 million cut for Early Childhood Education Grants.
  • $6.8 million cut for Head Start Grants.
  • $474 thousand cut for the Parents as Teachers Program.
  • $320 thousand cut for Best Beginnings.
  • $2 million cut for Pre-Kindergarten Grants.
  • $670.9 thousand cut for the Online with Libraries Program.
  • $138.2 thousand cut for the Live Homework Help Program.

 

Earlier I labeled the Governor’s budget proposal as irresponsible. Many of my colleagues in the House agree, which is why our new Majority organization has decided to not use the Governor’s budget proposal as a starting point. Instead, we are going to start our process with an adjusted version of the FY19 budget.

Alaska Children’s Caucus

I joined Rep. Sara Rasmussen from Anchorage this week in forming the Alaska Children’s Caucus in the Alaska Legislature. This non-partisan caucus is intended to protect our most vulnerable asset, the children of our state. We have extended invitations to every member of the Alaska Legislature to join this new caucus.

Because children are at the heart of our communities, we should cherish and protect them at all costs. The earlier we invest in the health and education of children the better the outcomes for our communities. We all share a common desire to see everyone’s children flourish and to make childhood happy and bright for Alaska’s children.

Education is my top priority, which is why I am excited to join the House Education Committee and the Education Finance Subcommittee. In the coming days, we are going to be working hard to develop a responsible budget that fully funds public education and keeps our promises to Alaska’s students, parents, and hardworking educators.

I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!

Warm regards,

[signed] Chris Tuck
      Chris Tuck
      Alaska State Representative
      District 23 - Anchorage


 

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