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The University of Alaska will make sacrifices like other aspects of state government, but forcing it into a financial exigency is a step too far.
The university’s Board of Regents reversed the financial exigency declared July 22 after its fiscal 2020 budget had been reduced by $136 million in state funds.
The reductions were among vetoes imposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in an attempt to immediately eliminate a state spending budget deficit of about $1.6 billion.
Since then, Dunleavy has met with regents and agreed to a $25 million reduction in state funding for the university, plus another $45 million over the next two years.
The $70 million in total cuts will be spread out over three years, giving the university an opportunity to better manage efficiencies.
The university has been reducing its expenses — consolidating human resource services, freezing travel, restricting hiring, reducing faculty contracts and limiting purchasing.
It also is restructuring administratively, and seeking other sources of revenue.
The university will make the cuts its government requires. Those cuts will result in a new university system.
Creating a new system can be done from a perspective of improving it. The regents and the governor getting together to talk about the system should have been the first step. Declaration of a financial exigency never should have been an issue. All it did was cause reputational and fiscal harm to the university and Alaska.
As cuts are made, the remaining scar shouldn’t be bigger than need be. That is a disservice to Alaska.