Budget update: June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Last week, the Alaska State Legislature submitted the FY22 budget to the governor. The operating budget restores $15.7 million in state funds from the $20 million reduction in the third year of the governor’s compact. Under this scenario UA’s FY22 reduction would be $4.3 million. President Pitney explained in yesterday’s Board of Regents meeting that the $4.3 reduction, coupled with unreimbursed lost revenues from COVID-19 of approximately $16 million, equaled the original compact amount.

This may mean an operating budget of $273 million in unrestricted general funding (UGF) for the University of Alaska, a $4.3 million UGF cut from the current fiscal year and a $31.6 million capital budget for the university system.

The FY22 operating budget still requires approval by Gov. Dunleavy, so none of this is certain. He has called a second special session today, June 23 to focus on the budget. 

It is important to highlight a bright spot in the capital budget as referenced above. UA made a request for $50 million in deferred maintenance, and to date is slated to receive $31.6 million for four major capital projects of importance to each university. UAF’s project is a major renovation for the Moore and Bartlett student residence halls, including modernizing and renewing plumbing infrastructure as well as internal fixtures, paint and carpet. This work will help update Moore and Bartlett, making them an attractive option for enrolling new students in a fully renovated living environment.

In addition to the modified budget amount coming from the Legislature, the budget structure proposed separates UA funding into two appropriations. The first includes Anchorage and Fairbanks (Troth Yeddha’ Campus), UAF CTC, and the system office, and the second includes Juneau and community campuses. 

We’ll have a better idea of the budget outcome in the coming weeks. In a special budget meeting with the Board of Regents yesterday, interim President Pitney received approval in the event that an operating and capital budget comes through with a need to act immediately to put it in place. I’d like to outline some of the options and address speculation of what this could mean at UAF.

Here are some possible scenarios:

  • In the second special session, the Legislature could adjust the budget and put it before the governor for signature.

  • If the existing UA budget is not vetoed by the governor, UA receives a $4.3 million reduction instead of a $20 million reduction.

    • If a $4.3 million reduction is adopted, UAF would put out revised budget guidance for units for FY22. 

    • UAF will still need to address $3-$4 million in prior year UGF remaining balances as well as minimize specific impacts to academic units, service areas and research.

  • The governor could veto the legislative addition to the university operating budget, which would return the university to the $20 million reduction per the original compact.

As we wrap up FY21, I know many of you are finishing year-end projects, are out in the field, are getting ready for the start of FY22 and planning fall 2021 activities. Thank you for hard work and dedication this past year.  

Thanks for choosing UAF.