Dunleavy says he will reverse his vetoes on early education cuts

August 15, 2019 | ADN | Alex DeMarban

At a Head Start classroom in Anchorage on Tuesday morning, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced he will restore $8.8 million in funding for early education services, reversing vetoes he made in June to the Legislature’s operating budget bill.

The items to be restored are $6.8 million in Head Start grants, $1.2 million in Early Childhood grants for public school districts, $474,000 to Parents as Teachers grants and $320,000 in Best Beginning grants.

Speaking to reporters and educators at Rural CAP, the largest provider of Head Start programs in Alaska, Dunleavy said his budget cuts launched a statewide conversation about what Alaskans value. The feedback led to his reversal on the early education vetoes, he said.

Those and lots of other vetoes, most of which are not expected to be reversed, were announced less than seven weeks ago on June 28.

“We didn’t dismiss any of that feedback at all,” he said. “We listened.”

“What became pretty clear I think to everybody is that Alaskans value our elders, our seniors, and we value our children, our youngest, and that’s our future,” he said.

The funds for early education will be restored back to July 1, the start of the fiscal year, he said. They are “in addition to $2 million enacted in the fiscal year 2020 budget for pre-K grants, and $4.2 million in unspent grants carried forward from the fiscal year that ended in June,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

Tuesday’s announcement was the second in what’s expected to be a series of planned veto-restorations unveiled this week.

The governor’s vetoes, totaling more than $400 million, sparked widespread protests and a Recall Dunleavy effort that organizers say is rapidly gaining signatures.

Later Tuesday, Dunleavy announced his intention to replace his $130 million veto to the University of Alaska with a three-year, step-down plan that includes a $25 million reduction this year and an additional $45 million cut over the following two years.

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