University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen makes a presentation to the university’s Board of Regents at the UAS Recreation Center on Sept. 15, 2016. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen makes a presentation to the university’s Board of Regents at the UAS Recreation Center on Sept. 15, 2016. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

University of Alaska bosses ask for more money from Alaska Legislature

$31.5 million appropriation would boost salaries, keep schools competitive with Lower 49

Correction: The University of Alaska has 12 campuses across the state, not 33.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents is again asking for more money.

In its November meeting, which concluded Friday in Fairbanks, the group approved a FY2020 budget request of $358.5 million from the state of Alaska. While that’s $20 million less than the university system received six years ago, it’s $31.5 million more than the Alaska Legislature approved for the system’s FY2019 budget. In addition to that operating increase, the regents requested $50 million in the state’s capital construction and renovation budget.

The 2020 fiscal year begins July 1, 2019 and ends June 30, 2020.

About $7.2 million of that proposed increase will pay for higher salaries.

“Competitive compensation and benefits for our employees is extremely important,” UA President Jim Johnsen said in a prepared statement. “There’s not been a full court analysis of compensation and benefits in many years, and no salary increases in nearly three years. This undertaking is very important to the recruitment and retention of our most important and valuable university resource — our people.”

Another $1.8 million will pay for staff and resources to address sexual and racial discrimination within the university system, and $9.8 million has been earmarked for facilities maintenance.

Direct state support accounts for about 37 percent of the university’s entire operating budget. In the current fiscal year, that budget stands at $888.5 million, with $331.1 million coming from fees and tuition, $143.9 million coming from the federal government and $86.5 million coming from other state funds. The direct subsidy accounts for the rest.

In Juneau, the budget proposal calls for spending $525,000 of the proposed increase on the new College of Education. The money would establish an incentive program for new special education teachers, prepare teachers for rural schools, and hire a new faculty member for accelerated teacher-training programs.

Another $100,000 is planned for the University of Alaska Southeast Maritime Training center in Ketchikan. The money would hire a faculty member to teach engine room and power technology.

While the university’s budget has shrunk in recent years (the subject of cost-cutting efforts by the Alaska Legislature) lawmakers last year approved a $10 million funding increase, the first such rise since 2014.

Regents and other university officials have said that increase was helpful but insufficient to keep the University of Alaska competitive with other institutions across the country.

In particular, the university is concerned about the amount of deferred maintenance at its 12 campuses across the state. More than $1 billion worth of maintenance projects has been postponed as a cost-savings measure.

In addition to the $31.5 million operating budget increase, the university system is requesting $50 million to take a bite out of that backlog.

The regents’ budget proposal now goes to the governor’s office for inclusion in the governor’s budget proposal. The governor may choose to edit the proposal or pass it on to legislators for their consideration. The Alaska Legislature has the final word on budgeting.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.

More in Home

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

Most Read