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Children could bear large burden of Alaska’s budget cuts

August 1, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A disproportionate share of the burden of budget cuts by Alaska’s governor could fall on children, officials said.

Service providers said 17,000 low-income families could be affected, The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed line items equaling $444 million in reductions to Alaska’s operating budget in June. Cuts were made to funding for housing programs and homeless services, pre-K programs, behavioral health grants, Medicaid, and the University of Alaska.

Recent data from the Alaska Children’s Trust indicate around 42,000 Alaska children live in households receiving some public assistance.

The vetoes could have immediate impacts for hundreds of homeless and low-income children likely to lose shelter and early childhood education, providers said.

“What these cuts are doing is impacting every aspect of the system that can make it or break it for children and families from a health and well-being point of view,” said Tamar Ben-Yosef, executive director of the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership.

A ripple effect could disrupt nutrition, school attendance, housing stability, health care access, and whether some children are placed in foster care or can earn a college degree, advocates said.

The cuts also create difficulties for parents by limiting child care and education availability and access to dental care, counseling, psychiatric care, and addiction treatment, they said.

“It’s the trickle-down effect of this, it’s way more than you can count with numbers,” Ben-Yosef said.

Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper. The governor has repeatedly said the cuts are necessary to bring state spending in line with revenue.

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Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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