Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed 2020 budget is unpopular with some leaders and organizations in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The Association of Village Council Presidents passed a resolution at the beginning of March that condemns his proposed cuts.
Dunleavy’s budget would slash $1.8 billion of funding for key services in rural Alaska. That includes K -12 public education, the Power Cost Equalization program, public safety, and the additional health care coverage that came with Medicaid expansion.
The governor's proposal to slash $3 million from Village Public Safety Officer funding in this year’s budget has prompted AVCP to eliminate funding from its fourth quarter 2019 budget that would allow the organization to temporarily station VPSOs as regional units.
Azara Mohammedi, AVCP's director of communications, says that the organization had decided to use what are called “temporary duty yonder” or "TDY" funds to create these temporary regional VPSO units. Creating these units would have established a “more constant” public safety presence for villages that don’t have it. Right now, 88 percent of villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta lack a public safety officer, according to AVCP. The proposed funding cuts for the next fiscal year could hurt that even more.
AVCP’s board chair, Raymond Watson, wasn’t available for comment. But in a statement, Watson says that he hopes the resolution will “implement a more equitable budget that is fair to rural Alaskans.”