11/26/14 - Judge rules mandated education funding from boroughs, 1st class cities unconstitutional
Judge's ruling will shift education costs to state
A Superior Court Judge has ruled in favor of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough in its lawsuit launched in January against the State of Alaska over the state’s education funding mandate. The Borough argued that the mandatory local contribution was unfair to organized boroughs and first-class cities, because it doesn’t apply to communities in the unorganized borough.
Superior Court Judge William Carey says borough contributions, essentially, are a special purpose tax, which, in his ruling he said violates the state Constitution.
The ruling will shift costs to the state. The state Department of Education’s budget for the 2013-2014 academic year was $1.4 billion, and $222 million of that came from required local contributions provided by boroughs and first-class cities. The state is reviewing the ruling and has not decided whether to appeal.
Bill would ban partisan ads in state-funded Voters Guide
The state Division of Elections took some heat this year for publishing an attack ad against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in the official voter guide. Now, Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, wants to ban partisan ads in the guide, a state-funded booklet that’s mailed to every voting household. Gara says he plans to pre-file the bill and will be looking for co-sponsors from both parties.
State grant to help meet demand for more science, tech, engineering college prep classes
As KTOO’s Sarah Yu reports, the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program is tripling enrollment in its Middle School Academies, after receiving a $6 million state grant. The program hopes to get middle school students—especially Alaska Natives—interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Influenza hits Alaskans harder than usual
The state says some 345 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza were reported in October and 405 cases in November, as of the 20th of the month -- by far the largest numbers reported in recent years. Flu shots are recommended for everyone over six months of age, and particularly for those at higher risk. Other preventative measures include washing your hands, covering coughs with your sleeve or tissue, staying home when sick, and practicing good general hygiene.