"Craft a working, dynamic voucher/tax credit system launching real "competition" between public (government) and private schools."
- Rep. Kohring
The following is a suggested plan to address the immediate funding needs for Alaska's schools, but also to establish a long-term strategy for improving education in the state:
Establish an Education Endowment
Establish an education trust fund overseen by a five-member board of directors. Deed five million acres of state land to the trust. Land will be sold and developed with the proceeds invested in the financial markets (similar to the Permanent Fund). The resulting earnings will be placed annually into the Foundation Formula for distribution to school districts.
Initial fusion of funding for Fiscal Year 2005
Immediately increase the Foundation Formula to ease the current funding crisis posed by the proposed spending cuts (beginning in July 1, 2004, the start of Fiscal Year 2005).
For each year thereafter (beginning in FY 2006), the Formula would be increased to adjust for inflation.
Increase the Foundation Formula for inflation
Increase funding to the Foundation Formula to offset the effects of inflation, beginning in FY 2006. Base the annual increases on the Consumer Price Index (for example, approximately $20 million would be added for FY 2006 based on a 2% inflation rate).
Cut the state operating budget and place savings into the Education Endowment
Cut the following from the state operating budget and re-direct savings ($50 million total) into the Education Endowment to pay for the annual Foundation Formula increases: (Note: These are just a few of numerous potential reductions that could be done.)
- Reduce the Legislative session from 120 to 90 days and meet once every two years (est. $6 million in annual savings).
- Eliminate subsidies to government funded special interest groups, including, but not limited to, fisheries marketing, tourism advertising, government run radio and T.V., taxpayer subsidized arts and municipal grants (est. $35 million in annual savings).
- Contract out prisoners to private prisons in the Lower 48 (est. $4 million in annual savings).
- Merge/consolidate departments and agencies, including Administration, Labor, Fish & Game, Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources (est. $5 million in annual savings).
Achieve efficiencies in the state education bureaucracy
Reorganize and consolidate school districts of 500 students or less (of the 55 total districts in the state) to eliminate costly superintendent and special assistant positions, saving an estimated $5 million annually, and regionalize high schools throughout Alaska. Place savings into the Education Endowment.
Put in place a school voucher/property tax credit system
Craft a working, dynamic voucher/tax credit system launching real competition between public (government) and private schools. This would place parents in control of their property tax dollars by giving them the freedom to choose public, private, charter, correspondence or home schooling for their children, and using either a voucher or a property tax credit to pay for it. Savings incurred due to a lower enrollment in public schools could then be placed into the Education Endowment. Initially set up voucher/property tax credit system on a test pilot basis, with a five-year sunset. Re-evaluate effectiveness of the program at that time.
Rep. Vic Kohring
February 13, 2004
(Updated March 27, 2004)
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Vic Kohring, a Republican, represents Wasilla and the Mat-Su in the Alaska State Legislature.