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Dunleavy vetoes education bill, citing lack of reforms

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(The Center Square) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed Senate Bill 140, saying the bill did not include educational reforms or changes in charter schools.

The bill includes a $680 increase to the base student allocation but not teachers’ bonuses touted by the governor.

“Although I support an increase to the BSA – there were no new approaches, other than enhanced funding, to increase educational outcomes,” Dunleavy said in his veto message late Thursday. “SB 140 lacked sufficient changes in how charter schools are chartered in order to allow more students and families charter school possibilities.”

The Alaska House Coalition said it is disappointed with Dunleavy’s decision.

“Throughout this session, Alaskans have made clear that the legislature must address the funding crisis facing our students, educators, and schools across Alaska,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage. “Alaska’s education system is in crisis and SB140 provides essential support to Alaska’s students whether they attend charter, correspondence, or neighborhood brick and mortar schools while directing funds into the classroom and funding the Alaska Reads Act.”

Americans for Prosperity – Alaska lobbied for the veto.

“Families are hungry for real reform and SB 140 clearly misses the mark Education funding should be used to support students – not systems,” the group said in a statement. “We urge legislators to unite in support of the Governor’s veto. Alaska’s families deserve an education system that works for each unique student with reforms like open enrollment.”

The governor and lawmakers negotiated up until Thursday’s veto deadline. Dunleavy said he wants talks to continue. He is holding a news conference Friday morning.

“There is still time in this session to address some of the issues such as increasing broadband speeds for our schools in Alaska,” Dunleavy said. “There is also still time in this session to enhance our charter school offerings and methods by which they are chartered.”

The Legislature could override the veto if 40 of the 60 lawmakers agree.

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