UA president: Flat funding limits education, training and economic development

The University of Alaska’s budget and enrollment have been in decline since 2014. (Graph courtesy University of Alaska)

Gov. Bill Walker is proposing flat funding for Alaska’s university system for the budget year that begins in July.

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said in a statement Friday, “A status quo budget will compound the impact of four straight years of budget cuts, and limits our ability to make much needed investments in student education, training programs and the economic development our state needs.”

The university’s annual budget has declined by more than $60 million since 2014, forcing cutbacks. The university employs 1,183 fewer people than it did three years ago. Student enrollment has declined 15 percent.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents had requested a $341 million budget. Walker’s proposal is for $317 million.

The regents also requested $50 million for a maintenance backlog of more than $1 billion. The governor proposed $70 million.

In November, the regents approved a 10 percent tuition increase for most campuses over the next two academic years.