EDITOR, Daily News:

Last week, the Alaska House of Representatives passed House Bill 169 to fund our constitutional obligation for baseline education. HB 169 funds the Foundation Formula and Pupil Transportation for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the amounts of which are decided by a formula set in statute. The bill is sponsored by the House Finance Committee, and as the vice-chair of House Finance, I am honored to be the member carrying this piece of legislation.

In most legislative sessions, education funding is part of the operating budget. However, this year’s budget is more delayed than normal primarily because the legislature is waiting to include federal COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

A delayed education budget can be harmful to our school districts, who need to finalize their local district budget earlier in the year. Without knowing how much money will be appropriated by the legislature, districts are forced to draft multiple budgets, anticipate low amounts, and sometimes issue pink slips to teachers.

It has been a rollercoaster year for our school districts who have faced immense uncertainty. The Legislature can provide a little extra stability to our schools, teachers, and students by passing an early education budget.

The bill passed the House on Thursday, April 22 with 26 yea votes. It now will go through the committee process in the Senate. If you have any questions or comments regarding education funding, don’t hesitate to contact me by email at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or through my office.

REP. DAN ORTIZ

House District 36

Ketchikan