A crowd of teachers, students, and parents gathered in front of the Capitol steps on Tuesday to speak out for increased funding of education.
For many at the rally, the questions of lowering taxes on oil companies and adjusting education funding were inextricably twined.
Kindergarten teacher Kayla Harmon waved a sign saying as much.
“It says ‘Big breaks for big oil? How about a little more for little Alaskans?'”
The per-student funding amount has been held at the same level for three years now. And across Alaska, school districts are considering budget cuts.
Anchorage has a shortfall of $25 million, while Juneau is facing a nearly $2 million gap.
Protestors like Harmon expressed concern that state funding for education will stay stagnant at the same time that the legislature is advancing an oil tax overhaul that would cut state revenue by $800 million next year.
“We talk a lot about our natural resources, and we really have to think long and hard that kids are our future. If we want these jobs to stay inside our state, we need to educate our students to be prepared for those jobs.”
Nearly a dozen Democratic legislators spoke at the rally, passing a bullhorn between them. They’ve introduced a bill that would tie the base student allocation to inflation, but it hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing.
Since the beginning of the legislative session, Republicans in the majority have said they’re working on their own fix for education funding, but have been tight-lipped on details.
- The primary source of school funding would not be reduced. Permanent fund dividends would be cut in half, to $1,100.
- 360 North’s new documentary “Inside Out: Leaving Prison Behind,” premieres 8 p.m. this Friday, June 23 on 360 North.
- The state is advertising the ferry Taku again. It listed the ship earlier at $1.5 million, then at $700,000. This time, there's no advertised minimum.
- The National Endowment for the Arts has named a Chilkat weaver from Juneau as one of its nine National Heritage Fellows. Anna Brown Ehlers, 62, has been recognized for her mastery of this challenging art form that's specific to Southeast Alaska and parts of British Columbia.