And he just might succeed. 

Courtesy of The Guardian

In a shocking example of political overreach, Dunleavy announced 182 line-item vetoes to his state’s 2020 budget last week. He thereby cut the budget proposed by the Alaska legislature by almost $410m in general funds. Almost one-third of the cuts will come from the University of Alaska system, which will see its budget cut by $130m – a staggering 41%.

In a shocked response, the University of Alaska system’s president, James R Johnsen, said Dunleavy’s veto “will strike an institutional and reputational blow from which we may likely never recover”. Scott Downing, faculty senate leader at the University of Alaska Anchorage, told the Washington Post: “It’s going to be devastating. The effects on programs, on the students, on staff and faculty are just going to be – it’s kind of unthinkable.”

Dunleavy has defended his draconian budget cuts as a “policy choice” to increase the Permanent Fund dividend Alaskans receive each year – a major election promise he made during his campaign. While this might be good news for drug dealers – research shows a 14% increase in substance-abuse incidents the day after the annual payout – there is little evidence that the dividends actually boost the state economy. But the University of Alaska system does.

Here’s more courtesy of NBC News

If Dunleavy has his way, the university says it will have to eliminate 1,300 jobs, close entire campuses, lay off tenured faculty, and shutter academic programs. “We may not even be able to mow the lawns,” university Chancellor Cathy Sandeen told NBC News.

Lawmakers and university administrators knew the state would cut $5 million from the budget, which seemed manageable and foreseeable considering Alaska has reduced its financial support of its university system four out of the past five years. But the extra $130 million added on by the Republican governor’s veto, totaling a 41 percent cut in the state funding, blindsided the university.

The state Legislature has until July 12 to overturn the veto, but it needs support from three-fourths of the legislators. State political experts say it will be an uphill battle, and they will need to whip votes fast — right now it hinges on about six undecided Republicans.

If the cuts happen, “the university will drastically change overnight,” Sandeen said. She and others say Knight isn’t the only one who will leave the state, and fear an impending “brain drain.”

“It would take decades to reverse this damage,” Sandeen said. “We would see a reduction in student enrollment.

Sandeen, who has worked in public higher education for the past 30 years around the country, said, “I have never seen cuts of this magnitude.”

Somehow I think just saying “This is really fucked up” does not relay exactly how fucked up this is.

Every damn Republican administration that comes to power up here seems to attack our education system in one way or another, but Dunleavy has turned that up to eleven and may actually succeed in forever damaging our higher education system in a way from which it will never fully recover. 

I went to UAA in my twenties and it was a pretty good school with some great teachers. 

It provided a good education for young people of little means who would then stay and participate in our workforce.

That allowed Alaskans to stay in Alaska, and make a substantial contribution to the economy and to their communities. 

If Dunleavy succeeds in driving a stake through its heart he may also drive a stake through the future of this great state.