Nonprofits worry about sustainability with state budget cuts
Nonprofits and the agencies that fund them are concerned about the impacts of Gov. Mike Dunleavy's vetoes.
Laurie Wolf, the president and CEO of the Foraker Group — a company that works to strengthen nonprofits — said it's likely some will have to close their doors.
"People are panicking and they should be," she said.
Wolf said many are concerned the cuts will impact their ability to provide services. Just because the money isn't flowing, she said, doesn't mean the problems go away.
"We still have children that need to go to preschool and we still have homeless people that need a place to live. And we still have people who are hungry and we still have seniors who need housing," Wolf said. "All of those things don't stop just because our nonprofits don't have the money to serve them."
The Alaska State Council on the Arts is already anticipating they will have to shut down.
The council provides grants to arts groups, school districts and individuals. It oversees the Alaska Native Silver Hand program and a program that loans art by Alaskan artists to public buildings.
Dunleavy line-item vetoed the entire state appropriation for the council. Executive Director Andrea Noble-Pelant said the veto knocked out matching federal dollars as well as money from private foundations, leaving them with no funding and no choice but to shut down.
"As of [July 15], that's the date on our separation letters from the state," Noble-Pelant said. "And we've met with the deputy commissioner regarding a plan to close the doors."
Diane Kaplan, the president and CEO of the philanthropic Rasmuson Foundation, said suggestions that private donors could fill much of the budget gap aren't realistic.
"We give, right now, $25–30 million a year. The budget hole we are talking about is $1.6 billion to pay a full dividend," she said. "Our money is a drop in the bucket."
Kaplan said she didn't disagree that Alaska needs to get it's spending under control, but she said the governor approached the budget with an ax, which was unnecessary.
"Yes we need a balanced budget in this state and we need to live within our means, but it's got to be a measured, thoughtful, strategic approach so that we don't turn this state into a place people don't want to be any more," Kaplan said. "Our quality of life is at stake."
On July 15, the Alaska State Council on the Arts closed its doors and discontinued all of its programs, grants and services.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the closure date for the Alaska State Council on the Arts was June 15. It is July 15.
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