The head of the state's university system says while he's proud of what it's accomplished, if lawmakers continue to cut funding, there's a lot more at risk than education.

Tuesday afternoon, UA System President Jim Johnsen spoke to members of Commonwealth North, a public policy group. This is the university's one-hundred-first anniversary, and Johnsen says he's proud of UA because it leads the world in Arctic research.

Johnsen says for every dollar spent on research, it returns $4 of investment that solves real-world problems. However, he warned that four straight years of budget cuts have done damage. UA has lost $145 million and more than 1000 faculty and staff positions. 

“These cuts hurt badly, but the greater impact to us at the university is the impact to the state and to our reduced capacity to serve our large, unmet needs for higher education. We should be concerned because Alaska's cost for healthcare, K-12 education, energy and food are among the highest in the nation,” Johnsen said Tuesday.

Johnsen says, add in high crime rates and the highest unemployment rate in the nation and everyone should be concerned. Johnsen says all of that together means Alaskans may soon not have the opportunity for a good job and a good paycheck.

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