Dunleavy cuts requests for UAA funding increases in budget proposal

The College of Health, UAA Athletics, Alaska Native student support and Disability Support Services saw their requests for increases cut in the governor’s proposal.

Chair of the UA Board of Regents, Regent Ralph Seekins, at the Board of Regents meeting Nov. 10. Photo by Matthew Schmitz.

Governor Mike Dunleavy released his University of Alaska budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

His proposal included increases for negotiated salaries and some fixed costs, though not as much as the Board of Regents had in their request.

There were also increases for specific programs, mostly at UAF, including money to help UAF reach tier 1 research status and pay for drone research.

Funds were added by the governor for a data revitalization project involving the Institute of Economic and Social Research based at UAA.

Requests for increases at UAA and UAS were left out of the governor’s proposal, including $2.5 million for Seawolf Athletics and money for upgrades to the Sally Monserud Hall for the College of Health. 

The governor's office also removed an increase to the operating budget for deferred maintenance across the University of Alaska system. 

From the operating budget request, “In lieu of one-time capital funding, UA is pursuing a legislative strategy for consistent annual state funding to the ‘University of Alaska Major Maintenance and Modernization Fund.’”

In their request, The Board of Regents included a list of projects the money would go toward. 

At UAA projects included an improvement to the elevators around campus, the Professional Studies Building and Social Science Building.

According to the University of Alaska, the university system has a deferred maintenance backlog of over $1.4 billion. The funding was part of a plan to address some of that cost. 

There were some areas of student services at UAA that saw their requests for increases cut as well. 

The Board of Regents requested additional funds to hire more staff at UAA to help with recruitment and retention of Alaskan Native students. 

There were also funds for an additional staff member in Disability Support Services.

According to the budget request, “Current staffing levels struggle to meet the needs of UAA's students with accommodation needs.”

In a communication from the University of Alaska, President Pat Pitney wrote that this was just the beginning stage of the budget process and that the university will continue to work to get funding for university priorities. 

“The budget released today represents a starting point for budget discussions in Juneau next legislative session. It does not yet include funding for deferred maintenance, which is among the Regents’ highest priorities. … As the legislative session gets underway, we will continue to work with the Governor and Legislature to advocate for these priorities.”

The governor’s proposal will be taken up by and voted on by the legislature before finally going back to the governor's office for a final signature and acceptance by the Board of Regents.