Mike Dunleavy wants to cut the Alaskan university system by $130m – a staggering 41% of its budget
We rarely devote much attention to what happens in the largest state of the US. No, not Texas – Alaska, which is bigger, geographically, than the next three states combined (Texas, California and Montana). Separated from the mainland by Canada, Alaska is the biggest state yet has fewer inhabitants than the smallest (Rhode Island). This creates enormous challenges for governance, including in higher education. And Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy’s new budget will make these challenges far, far worse.
In a shocking example of political overreach, Dunleavy announced 182 line-item vetoes to his state’s 2020 budget last week. He thereby cut the budget proposed by the Alaska legislature by almost $410m in general funds. Almost one-third of the cuts will come from the University of Alaska system, which will see its budget cut by $130m – a staggering 41%.
How many young Alaskans, if forced to leave the state to find (better) higher education elsewhere, will return to Alaska after finishing their degree?
Cas Mudde is a Guardian US columnist and the Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia