The House majority initially included $175 million to reverse recent cuts in funding to K-12 education, then backtracked and used an unfunded Constitutional Budget Reserve draw to pay for this basic operations funding. Thus, K-12 education is sort-of-funded in the House budget, but the structure of that funding is designed to hold kids hostage in exchange for mega-PFDs. Note the differential in costs: Fully funding education and kids’ health programs is orders of magnitude cheaper than inflating the size of PFDs.
This budget is out of line with most Alaskans’ values. If it was signed into law, we can anticipate what would happen: Alaska would continue to have worst-in-the-nation child abuse rates, and fall farther behind in reading readiness and educational attainment.
In theory, the legislature could raise a massive amount of revenue to adequately fund services and massive dividends, but in the time I’ve been in the legislature there simply has not been a majority of legislators who think it makes sense to significantly increase taxes. I’m happy to vote on new taxes so we see whether the legislature as a whole will raise sufficient revenue for core services and large PFDs. Let’s cut through the rhetoric and take votes on revenue. That way, all Alaskans can watch and see if a majority of legislators vote to raise taxes.