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Alaska Legislature passes bill to protect college scholarship fund

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Published: May. 18, 2022 at 2:27 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 2:48 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - On the last day of the legislative session, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill that would protect the state’s college scholarship fund.

The $410 million fund had been used to provide scholarships to over 5,000 Alaska college students each year. The Legislature failed to pass an annual procedural vote last year, which meant the fund was drained. Four Alaska college students sued the Dunleavy administration in February, arguing that the state’s college scholarship fund should not have been on the list of funds to be emptied due to that failed vote.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman sided with Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration, saying its legal interpretation was valid to drain the fund. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed that decision earlier in May.

House Bill 322 was introduced so that it would effectively remove the scholarship fund from the state treasury so that it couldn’t be emptied again by another failed procedural vote. Supporters said that would provide certainty for thousands of Alaska college students. Some of the opposition to the bill came from the idea that college scholarships would not compete with other appropriations in the annual budget process.

Another fund used to pay for maintenance of Alaska’s ferries and to buy new ships would also be similarly protected. The Legislature’s budget has $394 million set aside to recapitalize the college scholarship fund. HB 322 now goes to the governor for his consideration.

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