Dr. Jim Johnsen, president of the University of Alaska, center, listens to Donna Arduin, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, left and Mike Barnhill, policy director for the OMB, as their continue to present Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget to the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Dr. Jim Johnsen, president of the University of Alaska, center, listens to Donna Arduin, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, left and Mike Barnhill, policy director for the OMB, as their continue to present Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget to the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

With state government shutdown looming, university preparing for late, reduced budget

Officials unsure what to expect from governor

With a week and a half left until a possible state government shutdown, organizations are starting to prepare for the worst.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has not yet signed the operating budget passed by the Alaska Legislature, and the new fiscal year begins July 1. On Wednesday, the University of Alaska Board of Regents granted UA President Jim Johnsen the power to cover certain operations for the university beginning July 1 if there isn’t a budget in place by then, according to a release.

Regents have to approve a budget before money is spent, this authorization allows Johnsen to allocate money to cover basic functions of the university system until a budget is passed, UA Office of Public Affairs Communications and Marketing Manager Monique Musick explained via phone Wednesday.

[University officials to consider having one University of Alaska, not three]

Associate Vice President of Public Affairs Robbie Graham said Wednesday that the university system has requested short-term funds from the Office of Management and Budget in case there isn’t a budget by July 1. That’s fairly standard, Graham said, when there isn’t a full budget prepared as a new fiscal year approaches.

She said the university can also pull from money they have set aside from the federal government, grants, tuition and other sources.

“We would look to keep the core services and the urgent services up and running, as well as some of the research and other programs that receive federal funds and are funded by sources outside the general budget,” Graham said.

There’s a huge amount of uncertainty for the university system in particular, as the Legislature proposed a $5 million cut (about 2 percent) and the governor’s original budget proposal included a $134 million (41 percent) cut to the university system. The governor has the authority to veto the whole budget or specific parts of the Legislature’s budget.

“We simply cannot manage substantial cuts without impact on the university and the state,” Johnsen said in a release. “The threat is serious. We can talk about program reductions, but our obligation to students does not go away just because we eliminate a program.”

Once a budget is signed by the governor the university will return to the Regents with a specific funding plan for its approval. The board has tentatively planned to meet again on June 28 to approve a budget or they will call an emergency meeting to take action once the budget is final.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Eaglecrest Ski Patrol received a report of an avalanche in closed terrain in the East Bowl Chutes at 10:10 a.m. Thursday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)
David Holmes digs through a pile of boardgames during Platypus Gaming’s two-day mini-con over the weekend at Douglas Public Library and Sunday at Mendenhall Public Library. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Good times keep rolling with Platypus Gaming

Two-day mini-con held at Juneau Public Library.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau man indicted on child pornography charges

A Juneau man was indicted Thursday on charges of possessing or accessing… Continue reading

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Juneau’s municipal and state legislative members, their staff, and city lobbyists gather in the Assembly chambers Thursday meeting for an overview of how the Alaska State Legislature and politicians in Washington, D.C., are affecting local issues.
Local leaders, lawmakers and lobbyists discuss political plans for coming year

Morning meeting looks at local impact of state, national political climates.

This photo shows pills police say were seized after a suspicious package was searched. (Juneau Police Department)
Police: 1,000 fentanyl pills, 86 grams of meth seized

Juneau man arrested on felony charges.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read