University of Alaska officials wary of cuts as impending budget drop date looms

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen appears on an episode of Forum@360 in Juneau on April 3, 2018. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

The University of Alaska has made arrangements to fund core operations if there’s no finalized state budget when the new fiscal year starts July 1. UA president Jim Johnsen said the state has agreed to interim support.

”To provide that advance, we had the same arrangement worked out back in 2017 when we were in a very similar situation with the budget not coming until very, very late in the year, very soon before the new fiscal year begins.”

But Johnsen said he been assured that won’t be necessary because a state budget will be in place.

”Every message we’re getting from the governor’s Office of Management and Budget is that there will be a budget later this week.”

Johnsen emphasized that he’s received no assurance that the governor will not use veto power to reduce state university funding beyond a cut approved by legislators.

”The Legislature, I think, produced a reasonable budget for us in light of the state’s current fiscal situation: a $5 million reduction from the current year to the new year. But the governor’s proposed budget, which was $134 million cut is still out there.”

Johnsen said UA administrators have developed plans to address a range of cuts.

”Looking at four scenarios: a $5 million reduction, a $10 million reduction, $30 million and then $40 million. But it may be more than that. We just don’t know.”

UA regents have scheduled a meeting Friday to talk about budget options.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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