Lawmaker estimates amendment will cost $60 million

A Democratic state lawmaker estimates a proposed constitutional amendment could cost the state around $60 million a year.

Rep. Harriet Drummond raised that estimate during a news conference Tuesday. Her estimate was calculated by multiplying the Department of Education’s estimate of children who attend private or religious schools by the funding formula used for students who attend public schools.

HJR1, by Rep. Wes Keller, proposes to amend Alaska’s Constitution to allow the state to appropriate public funds to private or religious educational institutions.

Keller’s office, in an email, said any assertion that HJR1 would have a huge fiscal impact is “either based on confusion or malicious intent.”

Keller’s office says if the amendment is approved by lawmakers and voters, they would still need to be enabling legislation and funding.