Senate has proposed improved measure for funding education

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I want to let the many supporters of education know what the Alaska State Senate is proposing as a revised education-funding package.

The new version of Senate Bill 35 (discussed late last week by the Senate Finance Committee) will increase K-12 and university funding by $98 million, effectively making the per pupil level at $4,576. It also adds $7.4 million in school-related capital projects, which are prioritized in the Department of Education's maintenance list.

The capital projects in SB 35 are the top 16 rural school maintenance projects, instead of the $9.9 million in non-education projects proposed by the House. Deferred maintenance is an issue that has been before the legislature for years I support taking the initiative in trying to solve some of these problems that directly relate to education.

Providing the funds needed to give our students a quality education is one of the most important jobs the Legislature has. It is a constitutional requirement that the Legislature establishes and maintains a public schools system open to all Alaskan children (Article VII Section 7.1).

I do not consider public schools as being maintained when districts are losing teachers and cannot provide the materials needed to teach the students.

I strongly believe that we need to prioritize our spending. The public expects us to handle their money wisely and not throw money at pork-barrel projects in individual districts.

Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, represents District Q. He was first elected to the state Senate in 2002.

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