State of the States
Alaska Executive Seeks ‘Stability’
Newly inaugurated Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska asked legislators in her first State of the State speech to help her provide more predictability and stability in budgets for local school districts over the coming year.
Gov. Palin, a Republican, has introduced a school appropriation bill separately from the rest of her proposed budget this year. She said she hoped the GOP-controlled legislature could approve that education spending measure during the first 60 days of its session.
Districts “shouldn’t have to pink-slip teachers in the spring, and make last-minute rehire attempts in the fall,” Gov. Palin said in her Jan. 17 address.
Gov. Palin’s proposed K-12 budget for fiscal 2008 would increase spending from $977 million to $1.14 billion in general funds, a 17 percent increase. Of the proposed spending for next year, $200 million would be offered to school districts to shore up an estimated $10 billion shortfall in the state’s retirement system, from which teacher pensions are funded. The per-pupil spending amount in fiscal 2008 would remain frozen at $5,380, according to the governor’s office of management and budget.
Much of Gov. Palin’s speech focused on plans for continued development of oil and gas resources, including a newly proposed natural-gas pipeline—efforts that provide vital revenue to the state’s budget, with schools among the recipients. The new governor also said she would seek to promote more K-12 vocational education programs, as a way of keeping students interested in school and deterring dropouts.
Vol. 26, Issue 20, Page 28