Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/10/1994 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HB 409    An   Act  relating  to   the  maximum   amount  of                 
            assistance  that may  be granted  under the  adult                 
            public assistance  program and the  program of aid                 
            to families  with dependent children;  proposing a                 
            special demonstration project  within the  program                 
            of  aid  to families  with dependent  children and                 
            directing the  Department  of  Health  and  Social                 
            Services   to  seek   waivers  from   the  federal                 
            government to implement the project; and providing                 
                                                                               
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            for an effective date.                                             
                                                                               
            HB 409 was HELD for further consideration.                         
  HOUSE BILL 409                                                               
                                                                               
       "An Act relating  to the  maximum amount of  assistance                 
       that may be  granted under the adult  public assistance                 
       program  and  the  program  of  aid  to  families  with                 
       dependent children; proposing  a special  demonstration                 
       project  within  the program  of  aid to  families with                 
       dependent  children  and  directing the  Department  of                 
       Health and  Social Services  to seek  waivers from  the                 
       federal  government  to  implement  the  project;   and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley  provided an overview  of the proposed                 
  legislation, HB 409.  He advised that the best way to reform                 
  welfare  would  be to  get recipients  off  the system.   He                 
  added, that  this  is  what  most Americans  want  from  the                 
  welfare system and  also what most welfare families  want is                 
  job  training,   and  work,   self-sufficiency  and   pride.                 
  According  to a  recent survey  by the  State Department  of                 
  Health and Social Services (DHSS),  88% of the AFDC  clients                 
  in Alaska said they would rather work than to be on welfare.                 
                                                                               
  Representative  Hanley  pointed  out  that  HB  409  removes                 
  disincentives to work in the welfare program while providing                 
  positive  incentives.    The  legislation  would direct  the                 
  Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to apply for                 
  a waiver from  the usual provisions governing  AFDC programs                 
  to establish a "workfare" demonstration  project.  All able-                 
  bodied recipients would be required  to either work for  pay                 
  or  provide  community service  or  their benefits  would be                 
  reduced.    The  legislation  would  include  higher  income                 
  disregards,  higher   vehicle  allowances  and   child  care                 
  assistance in order to make it easier for welfare recipients                 
                                                                               
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  to work.                                                                     
                                                                               
  The  bills demonstration  project language  would guide  the                 
  DHSS  to exercise  authority in order  to apply  for welfare                 
  waivers.  Also included  in the bill would be  an adjustment                 
  to the benefit formula added to help control rising costs.                   
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley  summarized that  America is ready  to                 
  "end  welfare as we know it".  Other states are using waiver                 
  type projects to  develop alternative welfare programs.   It                 
  is  time that  Alaska, with  its growing  welfare rolls  and                 
  dwindling revenues, become more efficient.                                   
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley  reviewed each  section of  CS HB  409                 
  (HES).                                                                       
                                                                               
  Representative   Navarre   advised   that  strong   economic                 
  development within  communities would be  necessary in order                 
  to  transition  people from  being  on welfare  into gainful                 
  employment.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  MacLean  applauded  the effort  of  the "workfare"                 
  program.  Representative  Brown asked if changes  in Section                 
  Representative  Hanley  explained  those stipulations  would                 
  only  apply  to the  control  groups.   Representative Brown                 
  asked if being in the control  group would affect a person's                 
  eligibility  for  other  programs.    Representative  Hanley                 
  stated that this portion of the  waiver would not affect the                 
  other programs.                                                              
                                                                               
  CARRIE MCKEE,  (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  AFDC MOTHER,                 
  MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEY, testified against the legislation,                 
  most specifically the  "workfare" program.  She  stated that                 
  currently there are not enough jobs available for  people or                 
  enough day care assistance.   Representative Hanley  pointed                 
  out   that   the   bill  would   provide   child   care  and                 
  transportation for the pilot group.                                          
                                                                               
  MEG GAYDOSIK, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE), STATE  PUBLIC                 
  POLICY  CHAIR,  AMERICAN  ASSOCIATION  OF  UNIVERSITY  WOMEN                 
  (AAUW-ALASKA),  FAIRBANKS, testified  in  opposition to  the                 
  recommended reductions to Public  Assistance.  She  stressed                 
  that the  path  out  of  poverty is  through  education  and                 
  training  and   urged  the   Committee  to   reconsider  the                 
  legislation.                                                                 
                                                                               
  NIKKI  KINNE,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  RCPC  HEAD                 
  START,  FAIRBANKS, spoke  in  opposition  to  HB 409.    She                 
  pointed out that there is not child care available for those                 
  persons  on  public  assistance  who  want  to  work.    She                 
  recommended  placing   more  funds   into  early   childhood                 
                                                                               
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  education.                                                                   
                                                                               
  VICKI  THAYER,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS                 
  RESOURCE AGENCY, FAIRBANKS,  spoke in opposition to  HB 409.                 
  She stated  that the individuals whom she represents live on                 
  Adult Public Assistance and that  any reduction to what they                 
  receive will significantly impact their  lives.  She thought                 
  that the legislation was unfair in that the  individuals who                 
  were not  eligible for  the "workfare" portion  of the  bill                 
  would be asked to pay for those that are.                                    
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 94-56, Side 2).                                            
                                                                               
  JAN BOYD, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), FAIRBANKS RESOURCE                 
  AGENCY (FRA), FAIRBANKS, spoke  against the legislation  and                 
  the  1.7%  reduction  to  those   persons  on  Adult  Public                 
  Assistance.                                                                  
                                                                               
  LOUISE  CHARLES,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  PROGRAM                 
  COORDINATOR FOR TANANA  JOB TRAINING PROGRAM,  TANANA CHIEFS                 
  CONFERENCE,  FAIRBANKS,  testified   against  the   proposed                 
  legislation and  the limitations it would make  for the aged                 
  and disabled.  She pointed out that the current JOBS Program                 
  is working  well in  the State  and questioned  the need  to                 
  introduce an additional program at new and greater expenses.                 
                                                                               
  She pointed out that the House HESS Committee failed to make                 
  any changes to  the proposed legislation after  overwhelming                 
  testimony against the legislation.   She urged that the bill                 
  be reconsidered for further changes.                                         
                                                                               
  SALLY  BENEVENT,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  HELPING                 
  HANDS,  FAIRBANKS,  spoke  in  opposition  to  the  proposed                 
  legislation and the 1.7% reduction.   She added that the job                 
  incentive program would not work as there are  currently not                 
  enough jobs available in the State nor is there enough child                 
  care  services available.   Representative Hanley noted that                 
  those  persons  chosen  for  the  pilot group  will  receive                 
  transportation   and  child   care   provided  through   the                 
  Department of Health and Social Services.                                    
                                                                               
  JUDY  BUSH,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ALASKA  LEGAL                 
  SERVICES, FAIRBANKS, spoke  in support of the  "waivers" and                 
  spoke against the remaining sections of  HB 409.  She stated                 
  that the bill is  not a welfare reform bill adding  that the                 
  "workfare" proposal  would not  be productive  but would  be                 
  expensive.   She specifically  spoke against  the "rateable"                 
  issue  and that its  relationship to the  percent of poverty                 
  level.  "Poverty" is the bare minimum which a person can get                 
  by on;  to receive 70%  of poverty  level is low,  the level                 
  which AFDC participants  receive.  There will  be long range                 
  future costs associated with keeping  persons at this level.                 
                                                                               
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  Ms.  Bush  emphasized  that  those   most  affected  by  the                 
  legislation  would   be  children,   elderly  and   disabled                 
  individuals.   Representative Hanley pointed out that Alaska                 
  pays the highest percentage of poverty level in the country.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MARY  LOU  CANNEY,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  FAMILY                 
  ADVOCATE,  RCPC  HEAD  START, FAIRBANKS,  spoke  against the                 
  legislation.  She  noted that  she was trained  by the  JOBS                 
  Program and currently employed.  She urged the Committee not                 
  to eliminate that program.                                                   
                                                                               
  RUTH LISTOR, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), INTERIOR ALASKA                 
  WOMEN'S POLITICAL CAUCUS, FAIRBANKS, spoke in support of the                 
  "waivers" but spoke strongly against the corpus of the bill.                 
  She pointed out  that little research  was available on  the                 
  workfare  program, whereas,  the JOBS  Program is  currently                 
  successful  and  would  benefit  the  State  with  continued                 
  funding.                                                                     
                                                                               
  DOROTHY  PEAVY,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  EXECUTIVE                 
  DIRECTOR,  MENTAL  HEALTH CONSUMERS  FOR  ALASKA, ANCHORAGE,                 
  spoke against Section 3 of the proposed legislation pointing                 
  out that  it would be  unfair for  those persons  on APA  to                 
  support  the  workfare  program  by  having  their  stipends                 
  reduced for that purpose.                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Brown provided  the Committee with  amendment                 
  effect of the  proposed legislation would not  enable people                 
  to  achieve long  term  self  sufficiency.   She  asked  the                 
  Committee to give consideration to  funding a "Healthy Start                 
  Program" as part of the  legislation.  Representative Hanley                 
  asked if a fiscal impact note  was provided for the proposed                 
  amendment.   Representative Brown stated that  Page 2 of the                 
  amendment, states the  funding intent to earmark  half (1/2)                 
  of savings achieved through rateable reductions for creating                 
  a Healthy Start initiative.                                                  
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 94-57, Side 1).                                            
                                                                               
  Representative  Hanley  advised  that  most  people  on  the                 
  welfare  system  want to  work  and added  that  ninety (90)                 
  percent of the public thinks that people should work for the                 
  benefits  received.   The workfare  portion  of the  bill is                 
  important and would differ from the requirements of the JOBS                 
  Training  Program.   The  JOBS Training  Program  is a  more                 
  comprehensive program  dealing with education  and training,                 
  whereas,  the  workfare   program  requires  only  work   or                 
  community service.                                                           
                                                                               
  Representative  Brown agreed  that  aspects  of the  current                 
                                                                               
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  program are not desireable, and pointed  out that in many of                 
  the rural areas  of the  State, villages can  not afford  to                 
  hire  a  VPSO Officer.   She  asked  how could  the proposed                 
  program could  work in  such areas.   Representative  Hanley                 
  advised that much of the program would be community service.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  VIRGINIA  ALLEN,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), STATEWIDE                 
  COORDINATOR  FOR  HEALTHY   FAMILIES,  ANCHORAGE,  spoke  in                 
  opposition to HB 409 and the proposed 1.7% decrease to Adult                 
  Public Assistance.                                                           
                                                                               
  HB 409 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.                         

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