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Subcommittee recommendations include cuts to education budget, public defender agency

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JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska's top public defender says there will be delays in criminal trials and appeals if a proposed $1.2 million cut to his agency goes forward.

A Senate subcommittee on Thursday proposed the cut to the public defender's agency. A separate subcommittee on Friday proposed deeper cuts to the state education department as lawmakers struggle with a projected multibillion-dollar deficit.

Lawmakers cast the cut to the public defender's agency as being commensurate to a cut for prosecutors. But Public Defender Quinlan Steiner says his agency has costs prosecutors don't and has seen significant workload and caseload increases over the years.

The education cuts are deeper than what the House made. But the Senate version provides nearly $3 million for a regional medical school program. The House proposed phasing out Alaska's participation.

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