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Dunleavy wants negotiations on education bills

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday he is open to negotiating an education bill after the Legislature passed a bill he called “a three-legged horse.”

Senate Bill 140 did not include teacher bonuses touted by Dunleavy. A $680 increase in the base student allocation is in the bill.

“It can’t just be the BSA,” Dunleavy said. “The discussion has to change.”

The governor acknowledged teacher bonuses might be dead but asked lawmakers to sit down and have conversations before March 14, when he has to decide if he will veto the bill. He also wants a provision allowing the state to approve charter schools directly.

“It’s a three-legged horse,” Dunleavy said of SB140. “It’s not going to run very far but we can fix that.”

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 18-1, with one senator excused. The House approved the bill last week with Reps. Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, and Mike Prax, R-North Pole, voting against it.

“Over the past two sessions, we’ve heard from school administrators, principals, teachers, parents, and students about the dire circumstances they have faced,” said Sen. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Without a substantial increase in funding, Alaska will continue to lose teachers, cut programs, and increase class sizes to untenable pupil to teacher ratios. Today, I am proud of the work we were able to accomplish to move the education pendulum, and I vow to continue working to improve our public schools.”

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