Legislative Council authorized to defending education funding

Representative Louise Stutes and Senator Gary Stevens listen to public comments during a town hall in Cordova on Friday, April 12, 2019. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Legislators are bracing to defend a law that provides K-12 education funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Alaska House and Senate both voted on May 28 to allow the Joint Legislative Council Committee to take all necessary action to uphold the Legislature’s constitutional power of appropriation, to prevent teachers from getting pink slips on June 3.

“The Legislature stands by its effort to make sure schools get funded in a timely manner,” said Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham. “At stake is the essential question of the Legislature’s constitutionally mandated appropriation powers and a fundamental question involving the separation of powers.”

“The Legislature forward-funded K-12 education last year for this very reason – to prevent pink slip notices from going out and provide stability, so that teachers can focus on the classroom,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel. “We stand firmly behind the law passed last year, and we’re asking the courts to look into the issue and provide clarity.”

Legislators last year passed House Bill 287 to fully fund Alaska schools for two years and provide districts with a one-time $30 million grant. The bill was signed into law May 3, 2018.

In the House, there were 23 yeas, 14 nays and 3 excused.

In the Senate, there were 14 yeas, 4 nays and one excused.

Rep. Louise Stutes, and Sen. Gary Stevens, both R-Kodiak, voted in favor of the action.