Republican attack on University Alaska features false claim of 17 percent cut

The Republican attack on the University of Alaska features a false claim that the proposed Dunleavy budget cut is “only 17 percent.”

Don’t believe it.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants to decrease the state appropriation to the university by $134 million. That is a reduction of 41 percent in the portion of university funding that counts the most.

All the rest of the money in the university budget is generated by tuition, federal grants and other sources that are made accessible in large part because of the financial foundation created by the state appropriation.

Cut the state appropriation by 41 percent, as Dunleavy is proposing, and tens of million in tuition will disappear, along with unknown millions in federal contracts secured by faculty members and other funds.

In an attempt to distort reality, Donna Arduin, the temporary budget director, is trying to trick Alaskans into believing the reduction is 17 percent, which was publicized for her by blogger Suzanne Downing, the Republican mouthpiece. “It’s a good haircut, but it’s not 40-50 percent,” said Downing.

It’s not a haircut. It’s a beheading.

Speaking to the Senate Finance Committee, Arduin was not telling the truth when she said: “The size of the reduction proposed by the governor has been mischaracterized as over 40 percent, when in fact, as you can see from these bars, the reduction is about 17 percent of university funding.”

As she made her false statement, the slide below was shown to legislators, another piece of the sleight-of-hand.

The bars show the university budget actually going up under the Dunleavy plan. People across the state deceived by the Arduin approach have actually made this claim and charged that the university and its supporters can’t be trusted.

The deceptive Dunleavy administration presentations don’t make it clear that about $200 million of what they say is the total UA budget is made up of imaginary money.

The Arduin approach shows the “designated general funds” category rising from $331 million to $485 million. This is fraud and it doesn’t belong in any document created by a public employee.

Mike Barnhill of the Office of Management and Budget told legislators the big increase is “hollow authority," which sounds better than imaginary money. “Hollow authority” means the university is allowed to spend that much imaginary money if it falls from the sky.

When Dunleavy introduced what he calls his “Honest Budget,” he said, “As we’ve all seen, for too long, politicians haven’t been honest when it comes to the numbers and the seriousness of our fiscal woes.”

As a candidate, he was not honest about the numbers. His administration is following suit.

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Republican attack on University Alaska features false claim of 17 percent cut