Budget allocation explained

Question

Is it true that the $26 million that the legislature added back into the university’s budget is staying at statewide, rather than being distributed across the system?

Response

The budget for the University of Alaska was $335 million at the end of the legislative session — an appropriation $35 million greater than the $300 million the conference committee reported out in March.

On June 2, President Jim Johnsen outlined for the UA Board of Regents how that $35 million would be appropriated, including:

  • $9 million to eliminate a proposed mid-year tuition increase;
  • $26 million to be invested in high-priority programs and services, including deferred maintenance, K-12 outreach, teacher and health care education, research and Title IX compliance — all areas of critical importance to the university and the state.

On June 29, Gov. Bill Walker vetoed $10 million of the University of Alaska’s operating budget, bringing the total available down to $325 million. He also vetoed $18 million from the capital budget, money designated for a road project near the UAA campus.

To meet the $10 million reduction and keep each campus at budget levels planned for the $300 million budget, President Johnsen announced that approximately $8.5 million would be trimmed from areas set to receive a modest increase this year: research, K-12 partnership, workforce development, Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, Title IX compliance, and initiatives focused on development, degree completion and student recruitment/retention. The remaining $1.5 million would come from reducing high-level administrative positions at the system and campus levels.

Strategic priorities left intact include $9 million to eliminate the proposed mid-year tuition increase, $10 million for deferred facility maintenance and $3 million for the debt service and operating funds for  the UAF engineering building.

President Johnsen issued a message to all UA staff, faculty and students about the planned reductions as well as an external press release, which can be found at http://www.alaska.edu/opa/enews/2016/629/.

— Robbie Graham, UA associate vice president for public affairs