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Alaska governor says he will veto education package unless lawmakers adopt his priorities

Iris Samuels and Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska on

Published in News & Features

Shortly after Dunleavy's news conference, leaders of the bipartisan majority in the Senate indicated they would try to work with the governor though it would be hard to meet his demands.

"A lot of what was asked for was gotten in the negotiation process and that was proven by the fact that 56 out of 60 legislators supported the bill. That's pretty unheard-of these days on a controversial bill like that," said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat.

"I just don't know that there's a whole lot of room there for much movement because everybody's given a lot already, and once you start pushing it a little bit further in any direction, you start to lose people in the other direction," Wielechowski added.

The governor's teacher bonus provision was voted on by House members during a floor session last week. It failed in a 20-20 vote, with support only from the Republicans in the House majority.

The negotiation process over the bill comes at a critical time for school districts across the state — many of which must finalize their budgets in the coming days and weeks amid millions of dollars in budget gaps.

The Anchorage School Board was set to vote on a budget Tuesday night for the upcoming school year while facing a nearly $100 million deficit. Board members have said it's difficult to resolve that deficit without knowing how much school funding will come from the state.


Anchorage School Board president Margo Bellamy issued a prepared statement after the governor's news conference and said it was clear Dunleavy would not sign the education bill as written.

"We hope that he and the Legislature can come to an agreement within the next 14 days," she said.

Several legislators said that Dunleavy added more uncertainty Tuesday by urging the Legislature to pass education policies now and then discuss how to fund those policies later.

"Everything that people would like to have put into a budget is probably not going to get funded. And some of that may include some of these pieces," Dunleavy said, before insisting that "a substantial BSA" would be paid this year without naming a figure he would support.


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