Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2002-02-13 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2002-02-13                     House Journal                      Page 2238
HB 414                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 414 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act making supplemental and other appropriations; amending                                 
     appropriations; and providing for an effective date."                                          
was read the first time and referred to the Finance Committee.                                      
The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 12, 2002, appears                                  
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
Today I am transmitting two supplemental appropriation bills for                                    
FY2002 which pay for emergency and unanticipated expenses and                                       
those the Legislature short-funded during last year's regular session.                              

2002-02-13                     House Journal                      Page 2239
This bill is sometimes referred to as the "fast track supplemental bill"                            
because it includes items with particularly tight time requirements that                            
are not accommodated by the usual passage of supplemental                                           
appropriations later in the spring.                                                                 
Approximately half of the supplemental general funds required are in                                
the fast track bill because formula programs were short-funded last                                 
May and the agencies will soon be without sufficient appropriation                                  
authority to meet statutory obligations.  The largest of these is                                   
Medicaid, where the funding level was cut nearly $2 million below the                               
Department of Health and Social Services low-case projection offered                                
with my December 2000 budget proposal.  The department informed                                     
the Legislature the following April that the mid-case projection was                                
more likely due to significant increases in the caseloads and costs for                             
seniors and the disabled.  The year-to-date information is actually                                 
tracking with the mid-case scenario.                                                                
Also as part of last year's cuts from my proposed budget, subsidized                                
adoptions were funded below the department's projection by $1.8                                     
million.  It now appears that $2.5 million more will be needed this                                 
year for state obligations to parents who have adopted children with                                
special needs.  We should remember that in addition to these children                               
having permanent homes, adoptions are less expensive for the state                                  
than keeping children in foster care.                                                               
A third statutory obligation under-funded in the current budget is                                  
Power Cost Equalization assistance for high rural energy costs.                                     
Continuing high fuel prices in rural Alaska force the need for $1.1                                 
million more for this statutory formula than has been appropriated so                               
The Alaska Marine Highway System lost approximately $3.6 million                                    
between fiscal year 2001 and 2002 due to the fire aboard the                                        
Columbia. Because of that loss and this year's increased fuel costs of                              
$280,000, the Marine Highway Fund needs $2.9 million to avoid                                       
drastic service changes this spring.                                                                
Four highway maintenance stations have had actual or imminent                                       
structural failure that required them to be abandoned.  This bill pays                              
for temporary replacement space as well as design for the Chandelar                                 

2002-02-13                     House Journal                      Page 2240
replacement on the Dalton Highway in the Brooks Range so it can be                                  
constructed this summer.  The cost of replacing all four stations will                              
be added to the deferred maintenance bond package I recently                                        
Fortunately, we have unanticipated excess interest earnings on the                                  
tobacco settlement bonds which are restricted to use for capital                                    
projects or to retire those same bonds.  I recommend using a portion of                             
the earnings for eligible projects in this bill.                                                    
I urge you to put this bill on a "fast track" for final action as early in                          
March as possible.  This will allow us to take advantage of the                                     
construction season for the highway maintenance stations and the                                    
University's Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Facility at Lena Point.                                   
Approval of this bill in March will also ensure uninterrupted                                       
processing of Medicaid payments and subsidized adoption and                                         
guardianship payments.                                                                              
                                Tony Knowles