Local contributions to education

Assembly Issues

Local contributions to education

Candidate Responses

The Alaska Supreme Court is deliberating on Ketchikan’s lawsuit that claims that requiring local governments contribute to public schools is unconstitutional. What’s your take on the case?

Merrill Sanford

Merrill Sanford

Candidate for Mayor

It costs so much to run our educational systems in this state, whether the State of Alaska pays for it, or we the people in the individual municipalities pay for it, it’s going to have to be done. And we need a good educational system for our young people to grow up in and become educated and be able to go out and face the world, and be able to be productive citizens. So, we’re gonna pay one way or the other when it gets back to us. It’s nice to be able to have the State of Alaska to cover the majority of it, through our own property tax and stuff.

But if it all gets dumped on the individual municipalities to do, the whole 100 percent of the cost? Boy, that’s gonna raise our property taxes and sales taxes and every other tax that we can think of to balance our budget, for sure, in my mind.

So I’m a little bit leery. I understand the point of trying to make sure that all the municipalities are somehow paying their fair share, and/or the State of Alaska is doing what they’re responsible to do. But if we just change the formula, which sounds like that’s what’s going to happen … it’s not going to change a thing. It’s gonna come out of our pockets in the end.

Greg Fisk is running for mayor. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)

Greg Fisk

Candidate for Mayor

The sentiment that I get in Juneau is that we try to support our schools as much as we can; that reflects a strong commitment to education which I share and would always seek to fully fund schools.

I’ve got a 5-year-old grandson who is just starting kindergarten, so I have a personal interest in making sure schools are good for his sake. But it’s also an economic development issue. If you want to bring businesses here, a lot of their decision making involves things like schools. We have to be good in that regard. We have to have a good solid school system.


Loren Jones

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

I think they want to settle the question, does the (Alaska) Constitution require the state and the state only to fund education? I don’t know where they’re going to come down. I’m hoping that if they do come down, they come down with some sort of mechanism that can give some direction to the legislature on what they need to do.

My biggest fear is that they will agree with Ketchikan and not give a lot of guidance. The legislature then will just do a complete revamp over a year or two years of the way they fund schools. It may very well end up that the state pays more, but they’ll take a lot away from the communities, revenue sharing, what they do with capital projects. If they have to come with $230 million to $240 million more, I can see the first thing that would go would be $50 million revenue sharing for all of the communities. I think that would be devastating for rural areas.

So, there’s a lot of implications (with regard) to the direction that the Supreme Court takes. Saying that, I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a judge. I listened to an hour of the (hearing); I’m not sure how I would rule if I happen to be in that position.

Dixie Hood (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins)

Dixie Hood

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

I think that could be a disaster if that passes, and I think that Juneau has been really good about, practically every budget year, providing the maximum amount of fiscal (and) financial support for our schools and that should continue. Luckily, our state legislators and Democratic caucus stood their ground, in terms of the state budget process, to get increased educational funding so I think that’s one of the very top city, state and federal priorities.

Jerry Nankervis

Jerry Nankervis

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

With the exception of one year, we’ve continually funded school to the cap and beyond. With the current budget uncertainties that I mentioned earlier: the possibility of an income tax, possibility of state income tax, possibility of a state sales tax.

There is no certainly what the education level funding will be from the state next year. Without that certainty, it’s hard for us to say what we’re going to do and or not going to do. I think there will be hurdles for us if Ketchikan is successful.

Jason Puckett. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Jason Puckett

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

It’s kind of a double-edged sword. If we say, “Hey, local government should not have to contribute,” then we’re going to cut that funding for the schools because the state isn’t going to have the money, especially with the oil price situation. They’re going to spend it on other stuff.  And schooling unfortunately will not get it.

So I think it’s our community, and we all need to do our part to ensure that our students have a good future. So I think they shouldn’t mandate it, but I think that every community, if you actually asked the people who have kids in schools, the kids themselves, the teachers, you know, everybody that’s growing up in the community would want to fund the schools.

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