Subcommittee looks for $35 million cut to University of Alaska

The House Finance University of Alaska Subcommittee recommends cutting $35 million from the university’s budget for the upcoming year.

Combined with Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed $15 million cut, the university would lose one in seven dollars in state funding.

The subcommittee also voted to support consolidating the university’s three campus administrations by the end of the year.

The Board of Regents has nominated Jim Johnsen for UA president. (Photo courtesy of University of Alaska)
University of Alaska President James Johnsen (Photo courtesy of University of Alaska)

University President James Johnsen has proposed cutting administrative costs and streamlining programs, but the subcommittee’s cuts go much further.

“I don’t have a problem reducing administrative costs and generating – getting those revenues over into our academic programs,” Johnsen said

But to combine the accreditations of all three campus this — formally merging them into one institution — in 10 months would be impossible, he said.

“That’s a big deal. That’s not going to happen in 2016,” he said. “But to reduce administrative costs across the system, we can definitely do that.”

The subcommittee voted for the cuts five-to-two Wednesday. Supporters of the cut noted that including federal and other funds, the university’s budget is $875 million.

Johnsen said he’s glad the cuts didn’t go even deeper. Subcommittee Chairwoman Tammie Wilson, a North Pole Republican, had initially wanted a $47 million cut but scaled it back after hearing from university leaders.

Johnsen said he’ll fight for more money before the Legislature completes the budget.

“I appreciate the move the committee made” to restore $12 million, he said, adding that subcommittee members said the recommendations are the beginning of the budget process.

“I’m still disappointed, however, in the outcome of this proceeding,” he said. “But knowing there’s a process to move forward with, we’ll continue to press it.”

The House Finance Committee will vote on the recommendations before the full House votes. The university regents ultimately decide how the budget will be spent.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

Like what you just read? KTOO news stories are member supported. Support your community news source today. Donate to KTOO.
Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications