Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/22/2003 11:04 AM EDU
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 233 - INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING Number 1223 CHAIR GATTO announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 233, "An Act relating to the base student allocation used in the formula for state funding of public education; and providing for an effective date." CHAIR GATTO said he believes there is not enough time for the committee to discuss the bill at this time. The meeting was recessed at 1:10 p.m. to a call of the chair. CHAIR GATTO called the meeting back to order at 1:11 p.m. Present at the call back to order were Representatives Gatto, Seaton, Wilson, Ogg, Wolf, Gara, and Kapsner. Number 1792 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to adopt [Amendment 1]: on page 1, line 6, delete "$4,150" and insert "$4,168". CHAIR GATTO announced that without objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. He said that HB 233 [as amended] is straightforward in that it changes the base student allocation from $4,010 to $4,168. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, as the Chair of the subcommittee on HB 233, gave a brief explanation of how the subcommittee came up with the amount for the increase in base student allocation. He said HB 233 as amended rolls the LOGS (Learning Opportunity Grants) of $23.3 million into the formula, along with $3.9 million from legislation pertaining to the "two-year kindergarten" program, into the base student allocation. Of that $3.9 million, $2.2 million will hold harmless those districts that would have lost money by going from the per student allocation to the adjusted student allocation, and the remaining $1.7 million was added into the formula. Those funds are already in the House budget. CHAIR GATTO commented that the subcommittee did an amazing amount of work in finding ways to increase the formula without removing funds from some other area. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON told the committee that the subcommittee also took $8 million of lapsed foundation formula money from this year and rolled it into a new LOG grant which is based on the adjusted ADM. These new LOGs equal $38 per student. REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked for confirmation that the $8 million in lapsed foundation formula money is not included in the $4,168 base student allocation. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON confirmed that it is not included in the base student allocation figure; it is a one-time appropriation that is kept outside of the formula. REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked if it would be necessary to amend the proposed House budget in order to pass HB 233 [as amended] out of committee - the committee cannot just state that an appropriation will be made. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON responded that the $8 million will have to be included in the capital budget. He added that it is the intent of the subcommittee to go to the House Finance Committee on this because that has been the process the LOGs have gone through [in the past]. Number 2016 REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER said she appreciates the work the committee did on this bill, but disagrees that the funds were not taken from some other areas. The subcommittee took $3.9 million from the two-year kindergarten program which she wholeheartedly supports. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified that the subcommittee was trying to stay within the education budget. That does not mean that funds did not come from some other program; rather, they did not come from some other budget outside of the Department of Education and Early Development. REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER said that she objects on behalf of the Bering Strait School District. REPRESENTATIVE GARA said that a few of the members have been in support of increased funding for education. He said his position has consistently been that the base student allocation should rise to $4,303 per student to account for inflation dating back to 1998. A number of legislators voted for that on the House floor a couple of weeks ago and it did not pass. He said that given the reality of the proposals that have been introduced and not passed, and the reality that this is an increase over the House budget that did pass, he said he is supporting HB 233 [as amended] with the qualification that he thinks the state can do much better. He said this allocation is better than what the House passed out, and so he will vote to move the bill out of committee. He added that he appreciates the work Representatives Seaton and Wilson did on the bill. Number 2123 REPRESENTATIVE GARA moved to report the proposed committee substitute for HB 233, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER said that she does not want to object, but wants to reiterate that she is in strong opposition to taking money away from the two-year kindergarten program. She said she is personally opposed to taking money out of a program that allows four-year-olds to attend pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes, because so many Alaskans do not have access to preschool or head start; many Alaskans do not come from a "print-rich environment," and many Alaskans are not English-language proficient. She said she believes this is setting kids up to fail because it is clear that there is a group of kids that needs fostering. They need to become comfortable in the classroom and have access to books and reading. In order for these kids to pass the third grade benchmark, they need to get comfortable reading. She said that is the basis for her objection; she said, however, that she will vote for the bill. REPRESENTATIVE OGG said he would like to see a 2 percent increase in the foundation formula, but that is not possible this year. He commended the subcommittee on its work. Number 2336 CHAIR GATTO asked if there were any objections to reporting HB 233, as amended, from committee. There being none, CSHB 233(EDU) was reported out of the House Special Committee on Education.