Due to the lack of meaningful reforms, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has vetoed an education bill that would have dumped an unprecedented amount of money into Alaska’s chronically underperforming government-run schools.

On March 14, Dunleavy issued a statement that he had nixed Senate Bill 140, a bill that would have increased education spending by $175 million, while failing to include reforms that the governor supported.

The bill looked to add an additional $680 per student via the Base Student Allocation (BSA) – the formula for how Alaska funds public schools – which would have amounted to a historic spending increase for a system that has repeatedly demonstrated that more money does not translate into better student outcomes.

In fact, Alaska already spends $22,000 per student each year – the sixth highest in the nation. Despite this investment, Alaska students rank 49th in the nation in basic academic performance.

“After a thorough analysis and careful consideration, I have decided to veto Senate Bill 140,” Dunleavy explained. “SB 140 contains a record increase in the BSA. Although I SUPPORT an increase to the BSA – there were no new approaches, other than enhanced funding, to increase educational outcomes. SB 140 lacked sufficient changes in how charter schools are chartered in order to allow more students and families charter school possibilities.”

Dunleavy had pushed for a new mechanism by which charter schools could be established by the state, rather than exclusively through local school district control. He also wanted money tied directly to teacher take-home pay to ensure funds are not siphoned off for myriad administrative projects that tend to grow an already sizable bureaucratic machine.

“Families are hungry for real reform and SB 140 clearly misses the mark. Education funding should be used to support students – not systems. We urge legislators to unite in support of the Governor’s veto.”

Americans For Prosperity-AK State Director Bethany

“The lack of such reforms, given our success, with charter schools did not justify the passage of this bill that increases spending without needed reforms,” Dunleavy noted. “There is still time in this session to address some of the issues such as increasing broadband speeds for our schools in Alaska. There is also still time in this session to enhance our charter school offerings and methods by which they are chartered.”

He said he would continue to work with lawmakers to “put the needs of Alaskan families first – not the wants of special interest groups.”

“Furthermore, I will review the appropriations bills following the legislative session to ensure schools are being adequately funded and the state’s limited resources are being spent appropriately,” he concluded.

When SB 140 initially passed the State Legislature earlier this year, Dunleavy expressed frustration that the legislation was mostly just about pouring money into the educational system.

With declining enrollments and record numbers of families leaving brick and mortar public schools for homeschool options, many education activists, union bosses and entrenched bureaucrats have desperately lobbied to find new sources of funding from the state, despite having fewer kids to educate.

The nonpartisan conservative think tank, Americans for Prosperity – Alaska urged Dunleavy to veto SB 140 earlier this week.

“To improve Alaska’s dismal education outcomes, funding should be used to directly support students instead of simply increasing generalized school district funding,” said AFP-AK State Director Bethany Marcum. “This should be about our children, not buildings and bureaucracies.”

“Simply adding money to an antiquated, one-size-fits-all system is not the solution Alaska’s students need. It is time to fund students, not systems,” Marcum added. “Governor Dunleavy should give the legislature another opportunity to actually address the issues facing Alaska’s education system.”

Upon learning that Dunleavy vetoed the bill, Marcum praised the decision.

“Thank you, Governor Dunleavy, for sending a message that Alaska prioritizes students over systems,” she said on March 14. “Families are hungry for real reform and SB 140 clearly misses the mark. Education funding should be used to support students – not systems. We urge legislators to unite in support of the Governor’s veto.”

It’s unclear how lawmakers will respond to the veto, but based on the initial votes for SB 140, they may have the numbers to override the governor.

Lawmakers plan to meet in a joint session on March 18, which could include a vote to override Dunleavy’s veto – a move that requires at least 40 of the 60 sitting legislators.


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Gov. Dunleavy vetoes massive education spending spree that lacks meaningful reforms

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.


  • Friend of Humanity says:

    I like this video posted by il Donaldo Trumpo showing a rep who is telling that he is going to listen to his constituents. Wish we had a government filled of this kind of representation. It is hard to even imagine how good our state could be! Lol
    ‘THIS IS THE WAY!!!’

  • Daddio says:

    Here’s how to fix it:
    1. Lower the BSA
    2. Place the money in an interest bearing account.
    3. Allow each Alaskan student to draw up to that lower BSA amount to use on any education that they want.
    This creates competition amongst educational choices, diversifies learning experiences, increases outcomes, and decreases costs.

    • Elizabeth Henry says:

      Agree, but that would be common sense. Common sense does not necessarily fit with the power and control goals of the public education industry.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Dunleavy is disingenuous! This veto will be reversed! Dunleavy knew it would happen and pretends to be a conservative! It’s all BS!

    • Elizabeth Henry says:

      Maybe, but the bill is nothing but a spending bill that will do little if anything to actually improve education. Seems the only answer the educrats ever come with is a ‘need’ (want) of more money. For decades. How well has that worked for students and teachers? Has education improved? Seems admin just grows and the union gets more powerful. Change is needed.

      • DaveMaxwell says:

        This is the only legitimate change that will work if our leaders can manage to pull up their pants and stay the course: NO MORE FUNDING!!!!!

  • Johnny says:

    The education system has failed miserably, the data doesn’t lie.

  • Diana says:

    Absolutely! This one bill is trying to pull the residents into a thinking there is more than enough and then some. The matching bill is coming up with the Revenue stream to be channeled from the Permanent Dividend to the Department of Revenue for use, instead of Permanent Dividend Corp. doing the all around work to paying out the PFD. It will make it easier and less noticeable for the public to see what is happening with the PFD monies by making it law. Dunleavy is a crook and the sooner the residents of the state recognize that and do something about it, the better. What isn’t talked about to the public is the remaining covid money in each district to be used for education and has been sitting in accounts for each district to use. The legislature has a lot to get done but this bill needs to be stopped and the legislature needs to override the veto. The reform that is advertised is not needed and this bill needs the override of the legislature.

  • Bob says:

    What was the impetus to raise education funding to begin with? The public educational system is a broken and fails to produce competent students to meet the work force demands.