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Rep. Gara on Governor’s Fuzzy Education Math: A Giveaway is in the Eye of the Beholder?

(JUNEAU) – Rep. Les Gara (D-Anch) issued the following statement today on the Governor’s claim that a modest 2%, $30 million classroom funding proposal increase is a “$475 million giveaway”:

“The Governor has proposed an education budget that is leading to layoffs and course cancellations statewide, including to the elimination of summer school in Anchorage, and an increase in class sizes in many districts across the state,” said Gara.  “This week he called efforts to add modest funding and thereby avoid his proposed classroom cuts a ‘giveaway’ to students.  He’s stuck to his proposal to leave classroom funding across the state at the same level it was two years ago. And he's engaged in spin to call roughly $30 million annual increases to statewide classroom funding a roughly half a billion ‘giveaway.’”  

“To claim that three annual $30 million classroom funding increases will cost a half billion dollars, the Governor has added the cumulative cost of these increases and taken them out over the next 6 years, according to a non-partisan Legislative Research Division analysis. It takes a bit of spin to call a $30 million increase, which doesn’t keep up with inflation costs, a half billion dollar giveaway,” Gara said.

“The real giveaway Alaskans are concerned about is the Governor’s ‘no requirements’ oil tax rollback.  Under House Bill 110 he's proposing to ‘give away’ $1.8 billion a year in oil tax breaks, which don’t require additional investments beyond what companies were already going to make. Companies can just take the tax breaks and spend them outside Alaska.  Recently consultant Pedro Van Meurs confirmed that the Governor’s proposal won’t work, and will just cost the state billions in lost revenue,” Gara continued.  

“The final irony is that, according to the Legislative Finance Division's reports, the Governor has granted inflation increases to all his departments except K-12 classroom funding.  By his math, carrying his proposed roughly $40 million agency inflation cost increases out six years will cost the state roughly $750 million.  The inflation adjustments he is giving state agencies are 25% higher than the classroom inflation adjustments offered in the senate legislation he has criticized.”

Rep. Pete Petersen has filed, and Gara has co-sponsored, legislation that would keep classroom funding on pace with inflation.  For questions or more information, please contact Rep. Gara at 465-2647.

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