Gov. Parnell needs our support for the proposed performance scholarship

Governor Parnell’s proposed performance scholarship is in danger of being shot down by the Legislature.

This is bad news for both Alaska’s youth as well as the UA system.

This always seems to be the case when new programs, and even old programs, are being considered for funding.

Legislators have questioned the $400 million price tag that is attached to the scholarship, most likely because the $400 million may have to be budgeted each year in order to keep the scholarship funded each year.

“Establishing the scholarship program is one step,” Senate President Gary Stevens said, R-Kodiak, in a recent article in the Juneau Empire. “Paying for it is the second step, which is bigger.”

Most legislators seem to support the goal of this proposed scholarship, but figuring out how to fund it is proving to be difficult.

The endowment, which Gov. Parnell originally intended to be the primary means of funding the scholarship, has been amended out by the House and it seems likely that the Senate will remain opposed to using such an endowment as a means to fund the program.

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The original $400 million that Gov. Parnell is requesting would ideally be set aside as the initial funding for the scholarship fund and would remain there as a means of keeping money available to the qualified applicants even if the state encountered economic trouble in the future.

Legislators have not given up on the scholarship entirely, but it seems as though they are looking to look at the bill over the next few months and take on the question of funding next year.

Luckily, Gov. Parnell has not given up on getting the scholarship approved before the lawmakers call it quits for the year on April 18, but it looks like he needs as much community support as he can get.

Students, staff, faculty, high school students and concerned members of the community, call or write your state representatives and voice your support of this scholarship.

It is not only in the best interest of our elected officials to take heed of the community’s concerns and act on them, it also is their job.

More scholarships that are given to Alaska students in order to encourage them to remain in the state and go to a school in the UA system are definitely in the best interests of the UA system.

If more students enroll at UAA, it should mean that academic programs will expand and more money provided by tuition and student fees means more money for the University to work with.

Everyone needs to support this scholarship; it is in the best interests of Alaska’s future. Take an active roll in advocating for what is best.