Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/22/2003 11:04 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                                                                      

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