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Parnell Warns of Retaliation in Ketchikan School Funding Suit

By Matthew F Smith, Digital Producer, msmith@ktuu.com
Published On: Feb 07 2014 11:45:20 AM AKST
Updated On: Feb 07 2014 08:13:21 PM AKST

Parnell Warns of Retaliation in Ketchikan School Funding Suit

KETCHIKAN, Alaska -

Gov. Sean Parnell says Ketchikan could be punished after filing a lawsuit against the state over how schools are funded.

Parnell told the Ketchikan Daily News Thursday that Ketchikan could suffer when it comes to capital appropriations.

Parnell told the newspaper he doesn't want to address the issue of how he or lawmakers view the lawsuit but it "does shade or color the reaction to Ketchikan requests."

He calls it an "inevitable consequence" that lawmakers and he would view appeal for monetary requests from Ketchikan through the lens of the lawsuit.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough filed the lawsuit, arguing the state law violates the Alaska Constitution's requirement that it provides the entire cost of basic education when some boroughs are forced to contribute.

Lawmakers on Friday said the governor’s comments set a “dangerous precedent.”

Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage, University)  said he thinks Parnell “over-reached in a time of frustration.”

"(The Ketchikan borough) is competing for scarce resources with other projects, and that's fine,” Josephson said, “but it's too punitive to say, because you raised the school funding issue, I'm going to link that in some way to the capital projects that you desire."

"Local governments are strapped.  They're envious of unorganized areas of the state that get full state funding because they lack a tax base," he added.

In a statement from Parnell Friday, he emphasized that  “in no way, shape or form, will I, or my administration use the pending education lawsuit as a basis to punish or single out a specific community or region of the state.”

Parnell added: “Unquestionably, this lawsuit presents financial uncertainty to the State, estimated at several hundred million dollars annually. While everyone has a right to their day in court, it is reasonable to assume that lawmakers would view funding requests through the lens of that financial risk, and the lawsuit.”

In a statement emailed to Channel 2, independent candidate for governor Bill Walker wrote that “Parnell has chosen the wrong time, the wrong issue, and the wrong people to show himself as a bulldog.”