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Negotiations continue with Dunleavy, legislature on education spending

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(The Center Square) – Senate President Gary Stevens said lawmakers are continuing to negotiate with Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on an education package after he threatened to veto a package passed last week.

Senate Bill 140 includes a $680 increase in the base student allocation but does not include bonuses for teachers proposed by the governor. Dunleavy threatened a veto during a news conference last week.

“I’m personally really concerned about without assurances from the governor he will not veto the numbers at the end of the day in education in the student funding, I’m really concerned that we are being asked to give up a lot without receiving some assurance that the student monies will not be vetoed,” Stevens said Tuesday.

Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, said the House was still in negotiations and not ready to consider if the votes are there to override a Dunleavy veto.

Funding for the education package and the permanent fund dividend is also being considered, lawmakers said.

“It’s pretty clear that a 25% dividend along with a $680 BSA, we could still balance the budget without a lot of room in it so we are taking a look at that,” said Bert Stedman, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “We also have to be careful for how expensive the legislation going through this year (is).”

Lawmakers will get a state revenue update around March 15, giving them a better idea of what funding lawmakers have, Stedman said.

“We need to be careful how much we keep adding to the pot,” Stedman said.

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