An executive-legislative confrontation in Alaska was resolved earlier this month when Superior Court Judge Daniel Schally ruled that Governor. Mike Dunleavy, and other officials “violated their duty to faithfully execute the law” by not executing education appropriations for the 2019/2020 school year that had been enacted in 2018 by the legislature and approved by the Governor’s predecessor. Alaska Legisl. Council v. Dunleavy
The current governor apparently intended to reduce
education spending to a level below the amounts that the previous
administration and the legislature had approved before his election. Gov.
Duneavy had agreed to
send out school funding payments until the case was resolved, but he argued that
the appropriation passed more than a year before this budget year started was
invalid. Judge Schally issued an injunction, mandating
that the governor and the commissioners disburse the funds.
The legislature had determined
that the passage of the state’s operating budget late in the annual legislative
session posed a problem for the Alaska public education system because it
provided insufficient notice to school districts of the extent of their budget
for the forthcoming school years. Insufficient notice resulted in budget
uncertainty, which in turn diminished the public school system’s effectiveness
in attracting and retaining qualified educators for each forthcoming
The Court held that because the forward-funding appropriations were passed for the purpose of addressing an apparent problem with public education funding, the appropriations were enacted in furtherance of fulfilling the legislature’s mandate to maintain a system of public education under the Constitution’s Public Education Clause.
Gov. Dunleavy has indicated that he plans to appeal the decision.