Despite educators’ pleas for changes, school funding bill advances closer to Alaska House vote

House Rules Chair Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of House Bill 135 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska Legislature’s big education funding bill will reach the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives by next week, a leading Republican lawmaker said Monday.

“We’re going to get it out. It’s not going to sit anywhere,” said Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage and chair of the House Rules Committee.

On Saturday, members of Johnson’s committee heard more than seven hours of public testimony, mostly in favor of a large increase in Alaska’s funding for public schools.

The committee declined to fulfill that request before advancing Senate Bill 140 to the House floor.

The bill proposes a $300 increase to the state’s base student allocation — the funding formula for public schools — but that would actually be a year-over-year cut due to the expiration of a one-year $340 per-student bonus payment authorized in 2023.

The committee’s proposed action would nevertheless be the largest permanent bump for the base student allocation since it was created.

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