Alaska spends like drunken sailors, then whines when times get tough


Alaska has no income tax (yet). It gets most of its money from oil revenue. So when the price of oil is high, Alaska can spend like there's no tomorrow. But when the price of oil and gas is low, like it is now, it becomes time for politicians to complain they don't have enough money to spend!
The University of Alaska has said it will reorganize its campuses and may have to cut more than 8 percent of the staff, but professors are already heading for the exits

Liberal professors are heading for the exits!

And in tiny rural schools like Nightmute — which has 80 students in a village of about 300 people — the pain has almost reached the point of paralysis: Five of the school’s six teachers are leaving at the end of the school year.

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Oh no! Don't all isolated tiny villages have the right to have six teachers? I think Malamute, or Nightmute, or whatever it's called, was enjoying a rate of one teacher per 18 students, which sounds very lush for a tiny isolated village. I wonder who paid for all that?

“At every one of our campuses, something is likely to go away,” said James R. Johnsen, the president of the University of Alaska. “And if every campus is losing something, then every campus has a constituency that is aggrieved.”

What about taxpayers? You notice that taxpayers are never a "constituency that is aggrieved".

In the mid-1970s... Alaska declared that it would eliminate the differences between rich districts and poor ones. Fairness and equity, the state said, would be the rule.

"Fairness and equity" are code words for income redistribution.

Oil money allowed that promise to be kept, with the state paying almost $60,000 per year, per pupil, to educate students in some of the country’s most remote and isolated public schools.

$60,000 a year!!! That's higher than most college tuition. Can you imagine all the money guzzled by the education bureaucracy?

The University of Alaska, gifted with a flood of oil money and federal research grants — which have also been in retreat — embarked on a path of ambition that included introducing new academic disciplines. As enrollment grew to nearly 29,000 students, the school built hundreds of buildings across three major campuses — in urban centers like Anchorage and Fairbanks, and in rural spots off the road system where the costs for heating fuel and supplies, all of which have to be delivered by airplane, can be absurdly high.

So instead of spending modestly, and building a rainy day fund for when oil prices inevitably went down, the state government treated it all like monopoly money. And now they are crying crocodile tears that they don't have enough funding!

In 2006, when the stock market was near its peak, Alaska also shifted its teacher retirement system for new hires, from guaranteed pensions to self-directed plans similar to a 401(k). Then, to make the idea more attractive, it made benefits portable, meaning that teachers vested in plans could quit and not lose money that they, or the state, had put in. The result, as tough times have walloped the schools, is a flood of resignations, and teachers heading south with Alaskan money in their pockets, looking for new jobs somewhere else.

And that's only one way the money was poured down a rat hole.

Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, has proposed restoring the state’s personal income tax, which was repealed in 1980 after the oil gusher hit, and raising many other taxes as well, from alcohol to gasoline.

Alaska doesn't have democrats. It has "independents". Both want to raise taxes.

One lawmaker proposed closing dozens of the smallest rural schools.

Shouldn't every school, even if it has only a handful of students and be located hundreds of miles from a road, be subsidized by the state government?

Others have said the university should retreat from its expensive research function and become more like a community college system, focused on teaching.

A college focused on teaching? What a radical idea!

A proposal to cut back on subsidies for high-speed Internet in rural areas sent another shiver through the education system, since about 90 percent of University of Alaska students take at least one course remotely

People having to pay for their own satellite subscriptions sends "shivers"? Why should any student be entitled to take any course "remotely?"

All we hear is how entitled the education bureacracy and these tiny towns are to first rate fully staffed schools. There is a price for living in the wilderness. You can't expect to live in the middle of nowhere and expect college to come to you. The article is pervaded with a sense of entitlement, but no discussion about the entitlement of the taxpayers.



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