Dunleavy administration urges swift decision on higher education fund savings account – Mike Dunleavy
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has called on the Alaskan Justice Department to seek an expedited ruling in the lawsuit filed by students at the Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF) yesterday. The funds involved are the balance of the fund that has not been used or needed to fund scholarships during the current fiscal year. These remaining funds were automatically, in accordance with the Constitution, placed in the state savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
Funding for scholarships for the next fiscal year (fiscal year 2023) has been requested by the Governor from the Legislative Assembly. “I have supported scholarship funding every year that I am in office and will continue to do so. Alaska students can rest assured that their scholarships will continue to be funded despite this lawsuit, ”Governor Dunleavy said.
The legal question in this case is fundamental to the functioning of Alaska’s public finances. “The Alaska Constitution says that after the legislature borrows money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve, which is the state’s primary savings account, that account is automatically repaid from other accounts,” like the HEIF, to repay the fund at the end of each fiscal year. Billions were borrowed from the CBR. By virtue of art. IX, sec. 17 (d), CBR replenishment is mandatory and is not subject to the control of the governor or the legislature (unless three-quarters vote to return the funds to the original accounts), ”said the Attorney General Treg Taylor. “If a government account qualifies for the repayment obligation and the transfer has not been revoked by the legislature, nothing can be done to stop the transfer to CBR. The transfer is imposed by the constitution.
Governor Dunleavy added, “The legislature, the university, the executive branch and the people of Alaska deserve a swift response from the judiciary – the only branch of government that interprets the Constitution. I have asked my attorney general to request an expedited review of this matter. “