The intent of Senate Bill 224 is to keep any money in the accounts from being swept into a state piggy bank, the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
Lawyers for four Alaska university students and the state government presented their arguments to Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman on Tuesday to determine the future of the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund.
The Legislative Council voted 12-1 to approve filing a legal brief backing the lawsuit.
The Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund has been under threat of being emptied of more than $400 million as a result of legislative budget fights.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Wednesday that he had ordered that the WWAMI medical education program and 17 other programs be funded.
State budget director Neil Steininger said the governor still wants the Legislature to pass the constitutional amendments he’s proposed, to enshrine the PFD in the state constitution and lower the state’s spending limit.
If an amendment to the capital budget to pay full permanent fund dividends fails, the House minority leader expects there won’t be enough votes to draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
Merit-based programs tend to be politically popular. Need-based programs, in contrast, often determine whether low-income students attend college at all.
The House Finance Committee is considering a budget bill that would cut state government spending $418 million more than the $100 million in cuts Gov. Bill Walker proposed.