When it comes to spending money in Alaska, nothing outdoes education – not even COVID could change this. With the pandemic in full swing, the Alaska Legislature still budgeted more state funds for education in FY 2022 than it did for health and social services.

To help illustrate the massive amount of state funds expended on Alaska’s failing education system, the Alaska Policy Forum created a simple visual. It includes four individual blocks, showing the fiscal year 2022 budget: total agency spending, state agency spending, unrestricted general fund (UGF) spending, and spending per capita. The breakdown shows the budget as a whole, including federal funding, without federal funds, and as dollars to be spent per person on each department and agency.

“It’s rather astonishing that even during a pandemic year, Alaska budgeted more state funds to education than health and social services,” said Alaska Policy Forum Policy Manager Quinn Townsend. “This is especially interesting considering Alaska’s K-12 education outcomes are among the worst in the country, and the evidence is clear that more spending does not improve outcomes. APF produces our annual budget blocks visualization to make it quick and easy for residents to gain insight into Alaska’s budget and uncover information like this.”

Based on the latest Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS), two-thirds of public school students are not proficient in math, and 40% are not proficient in English. The report and covers the 2021 school year for grades 3-9.

Below are the four “budget blocks” created by Alaska Policy Forum, a nonprofit conservative think tank in Anchorage. To read more about the budget block, click here.


This graphic does not include federal expenditures.
Unrestricted General Fund (UGF) is money with no statutory restrictions. The legislature has discretion to spend this money however it chooses. This graphic includes only unrestricted general funds without federal expenditures.
This graphic depicts all agency budgeted expenditures per capita, based upon Alaska’s population in 2020.
This graphic depicts budgeted expenses to be paid from the state’s unrestricted general funds, from Other Funds, from federal receipts, and from designated general funds.

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Amid pandemic Alaska still spends more on education than health & social services

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.