To the editor: After a decade of teaching Allied Health (pre-nursing) courses in both Bethel and Fairbanks, I have returned to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and am working on a Ph.D. in immunology.
This budget reduction is far, far more damaging to me and many of my peers and colleagues than losing even $1,000 a year in reduced PFDs. Further, this shortsightedness has guaranteed that we will not risk sending our 14-year-old son to the UA system when he completes high school. And I ache for my former students and my current undergrad mentees that are looking to move on to the professional programs in the state such as the medical (WWAMI), veterinary medicine and pharmacy programs.
I would like to offer a suggestion that may help with the funding situation in Alaska and applies to all areas that have been reduced, not just education.
Our state has a mechanism to give back to a variety of good causes through the “Pick, Click, Give” program. I would propose that the legislators work with the folks that administer this program and create a way for individuals to donate back to the state. To keep it simple, I would layer this in two ways. First, each person donating could choose what percentage of their PFD that they wish to donate back to the state. So, everyone can still keep whatever they need for their own households but contribute. The second layer would be in how the funds are apportioned. I think that people would feel it most fair that out of the pot donated, each program that had its budget reduced receive back the same percent lost.
When the political system reaches a point that it takes very few holdout votes to prevent overrides but the majority is still in favor of an override, then it is time to take the power out of the hands of the Legislature and give it back to the people. Give us a way to personally override the decisions being made and personally choose to give our PFD back to the state or not.