Dunleavy education announcement

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the Alaska Reads Act Wednesday afternoon at Turnagain Elementary School in Anchorage. The bill will be cosponsored by Anchorage Democratic Sen. Tom Begich, right. 

Even after releasing contested funding late last year, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration plans to continue a legal fight against the idea of forward funding education, according to a statement released this week from Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. 

A final ruling issued in December rejected Dunleavy’s claim that forward funding violated the state constitution and required the governor’s office to distribute the rest of the funding in accordance with the law — which the state then proceeded to do soon after.

But according to Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, the issue at the heart of the debate remains unresolved.

“The lawsuit over education funding continues,” Clarkson told the Anchorage Daily News. “As required by the superior court’s order in the case, the State released the $30 million in extra education funding that was passed in 2018. It remains the state’s position that appropriations cannot come from future unknown revenues in a future year, and that question will ultimately be answered by the Alaska Supreme Court.”

Dunleavy had previously proposed earlier in the 2019 session cutting K-12 education by approximately 25% before backing away from the cut following public and legislative backlash. But the governor still stuck to the stance that funding for schools approved by the Legislature before he was governor was unconstitutional. 

The original lawsuit sparking the December ruling was filed last July by the Legislative Council on behalf of the Legislature after the Dunleavy administration had refused to distribute forward funding lawmakers had agreed to the previous legislative session in 2018.

According to court documents, the state’s legal arguments are due March 9.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.