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.
- Another marijuana grow facility is scheduled to go before the Juneau Planning Commission on Tuesday. If approved, it would add to the growing number of licensed cultivators in the capital city.
- There is just under a thousand tons of herring left to catch in the Sitka sac roe herring fishery after the last opening on Saturday.
- "Suddenly everything turned white," one student told local media. A mountaineering training exercise had drawn students and teachers from high schools across the region.
- House Bill 111 is the latest proposed tweak to the state’s oil tax system, one that supporters hope will get the state out of the business of writing checks to oil companies.