Mayor’s veto cuts Mat-Su education budget

A bit of last-minute school funding did not survive the veto pen of Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Vern Halter.

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During its work tailoring the 2018 budget, the Borough Assembly had earlier voted to take about $1.6 million from a school selection fund and add it to the school district operating budget.

The money would have been about 3 percent of the school district’s overall budget. One Assembly member likened using the reserve fund to raiding one of the borough’s last cookie jars.

At last night’s Assembly meeting, Mayor Halter agreed by vetoing the funds.

Halter cited fiscal uncertainty across the state as one reason for the veto.

“I want to keep our reserves,” Halter said. “We have a large reserve, then we have this reserve. I want to keep ’em in case there’s money flow changes in the borough that we have to face ourselves”

Assembly member Dan Mayfield first proposed using the school selection fund money and says the borough is not doing everything it can to fund education.

“By not funding education to the best level that we can, we’re forcing the loss of jobs, and we’re forcing the higher class sizes, when we have an avenue to do something different,” Mayfield said.

In the end, Mayfield and three other Assembly members did not have the necessary five votes to override the mayor’s veto.

School funding in the Mat-Su for 2018 will remain the same as this year, at just over $55 million.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

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