Ballot Measure No. 1: SB 21’s Failure Puts UAS, 50 Academic Programs on the Chopping Block

Brena: UA is just the tip of the iceberg

Contact: David Dunsmore, (907)278-8000 or (907)830-4288

Today the University of Alaska Board of Regents started a two-day meeting to consider major cuts across the university system, including proposals to merge UAS into either UAA or UAF and to eliminate academic programs across the state. Sponsors of Ballot Measure No. 1, the Alaska Fair Share Act, reiterated the need to fix the collapse of our production revenues caused by Senate Bill 21 (SB21) which has plunged the state into a budget crisis.

“The University of Alaska is a vital part of our economy, especially in the Interior,” said initiative sponsor Merrick Peirce of Fairbanks. “SB 21 is killing Alaskan jobs to benefit the most profitable corporations in the world. We need to get a fair share for our oil to save our economy.”

While the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the situation, UA was already facing steep cuts. Last year the regents reached an agreement to cut $75 million in state funding over three years. The proposed cuts being considered this week are the result of recommendations made by the three campus chancellors and UA president Jim Johnsen. The proposals include eliminating more than 50 degree and certificate programs including chemistry at UAF, environmental resources at UAS, and early childhood special education at UAA.

“The university is just the tip of the iceberg,” noted initiative sponsor Robin Brena of Anchorage, “so long as we continue to give away our oil, jobs across Alaska will continue to be lost.  Ballot Measure No. 1 is the only proposal which can raise revenues in the next fiscal year.  It is also a necessary part of any long‑term solution to our state deficit.  We just cannot afford to keep giving away our oil to major international oil companies.”

Since SB 21, Alaska’s current oil tax regime, was passed in 2013 there have been significant cuts to jobs and services across Alaska. The Alaska Marine Highway system was cut significantly, leaving many coastal communities without ferry service this winter. The Municipality of Anchorage recently voted to raise property taxes on residents because of cuts to school bond reimbursement, and this year the Permanent Fund Dividend was cut to only $1,000.

“Alaskans have had enough,” said initiative sponsor Jane Angvik of Anchorage, “We’re coming together from across the state and across party lines to save our state and pass Alaska’s Fair Share.”

Over 39,000 Alaskans petitioned to put Ballot Measure No. 1 (the Fair Share Act) on the ballot and it will be voted on in the November general election.