Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/18/1994 08:40 AM 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                 
                                                                               
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            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.                                             
                                                                               
            HB  409   was  HELD   in  Committee  for   further                 
            discussion.                                                        
                                                                               
  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."                                       
                                                                               
  CORAY LUDDEN,  (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  WRCC, KENAI,                 
  spoke in opposition to HB 409 and the punitive penalty which                 
  it proposes.   She emphasized that welfare  recipients would                 
  rather work than continue to be subsidized although they are                 
  not able to because there are no jobs available.  Ms. Ludden                 
  agreed with Representative Navarre that  long range economic                 
  planning  is  necessary  in  order  to resolve  the  welfare                 
  problems of Alaska.                                                          
                                                                               
  BARBARA LANDIS, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), MATSU, spoke                 
  in support of HB 409  and specifically urged greater funding                 
  for fraud investigation.                                                     
                                                                               
  NIKKI  KINNE,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  testified against the proposed  legislation reiterating that                 
  AFDC recipients  would prefer  to work.   She  stressed that                 
  AFDC  is  not   a  way  of   life  although  it  creates   a                 
  psychologically  and  environmentally  hazardous  condition.                 
  Ms. Kinne urged  that relevant  effort create a  sustainable                 
  and flexible program.   She recommended encouraging  welfare                 
  participants  the opportunity  to  devise  a  feasible  plan                 
  within their individual communities.                                         
                                                                               
  BETTY BARTELS,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), CITC  JOBS,                 
  ANCHORAGE,  spoke  in  opposition to  HB  409,  although she                 
  recommended raising the vehicle ownership amount to a higher                 
  level as  proposed in the legislation.   She urged continued                 
  support  for  the  JOBS  Training  Program.   She  concluded                 
  stating that the JOBS program and the workfare program would                 
  be in competition for proposed funds.                                        
                                                                               
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  MARY LOU CANNEY, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  spoke in opposition to  the proposed legislation elaborating                 
  that persons on the welfare system have little self  esteem.                 
  She added  that programs such  as the JOBS  training program                 
  help to restore a healthier sense of self.                                   
                                                                               
  VICKIE DARLING,  (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  CITC JOBS,                 
  ANCHORAGE, spoke against HB 409.   She testified in favor of                 
  the JOBS Program  suggesting that  greater education is  the                 
  answer for the success of welfare recipients.                                
                                                                               
  SANDRA  NEWMAN,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), FAIRBANKS,                 
  testified  in   opposition  to  the   proposed  legislation.                 
  Currently, participating  in the JOBS Program, she discussed                 
  the success which  she and  her family have  achieved.   Ms.                 
  Newman agreed that education is the way out of poverty.                      
                                                                               
  ANGELA  SALERNO,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), EXECUTIVE                 
  DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS, ANCHORAGE,                 
  spoke in opposition to HB 409.  She indicated that there are                 
  provisions  within  the  legislation  which the  Association                 
  supports although they do not  support the workfare program.                 
  Ms.  Salerno  pointed out  that  lack  of skills  keep  many                 
  welfare recipients from working.  The JOBS program currently                 
  is successful, whereas, the workfare program would be costly                 
  to establish.                                                                
                                                                               
  To  date,  the  JOBS  Program has  not  been  fully  funded.                 
  Currently, it is  serving twenty  percent of the  registered                 
  requests whereas, due to insufficient funding, the federally                 
  funded portion  serves only  two percent  of the  population                 
  needing that assistance.                                                     
                                                                               
  LOUISE CHARLES, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  testified in opposition to  the proposed legislation  noting                 
  that village  people do  not have  the opportunity for  work                 
  because there are  no jobs in  those areas.  She  emphasized                 
  that  cuts as proposed  in the  legislation would  hit rural                 
  Alaskans the hardest.                                                        
                                                                               
  REBECCA  RUFFNER,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), ARIZONA,                 
  spoke in support of the Healthy  Family Program amendment as                 
  proposed by  Representative  Brown, pointing  out  that  the                 
  program would encourage  ways to  build family strength  and                 
  family self sufficiency.  Ms.  Ruffner shared the successful                 
  endeavors of that program in other states.                                   
                                                                               
  VIRGINIA  ALLEN,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  HEALTHY                 
  FAMILIES,  ANCHORAGE, spoke  in opposition  to HB 409.   She                 
  reiterated facts  as presented by  Ms. Ruffner in  regard to                 
  the Healthy Families Program.                                                
                                                                               
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  (Tape Change, HFC 94-68, Side 2).                                            
                                                                               
  EDWARD DEAUX, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  COORDINATOR,                 
  HEALTHY START PROGRAM,  SOUTH CENTRAL, ANCHORAGE,  testified                 
  in support  of Representative Brown's amendment  which would                 
  establish a Healthy Families Program.  He suggested that the                 
  JOBS  Program  and  the Healthy  Families  Program  could be                 
  consolidated for greater efficiency.                                         
                                                                               
  BARBARA  BENNETT,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  CHAIR,                 
  HOUSING AND HOMELESS COALITION, ANCHORAGE, strongly  opposed                 
  HB 409 as  it would  decrease funds  to the  poorest of  the                 
  State.    She  added that  it  would  not  be acceptable  to                 
  institute an additional program  "on the backs of the  poor"                 
  specifically those on Adult Public Assistance.                               
                                                                               
  NATALIE  KNOX,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  CATHOLIC                 
  SOCIAL  SERVICES, ANCHORAGE,  explained  that cutting  funds                 
  from  APA  and  AFDC  dependents  will  have  a  long  range                 
  detrimental impact  on  families  and  their  emotional  and                 
  physical safety.                                                             
                                                                               
  KAREN PEARSER,  SECTION  CHIEF, MATERNAL  CHILD  AND  FAMILY                 
  HEALTH, DEPARTMENT  OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL  SERVICES, provided                 
  the   Committee    with   a    handout   Healthy    Families                 
  American/Healthy  Families  Alaska   which  provided   costs                 
  associated with the proposed amendment.  [Copy on file].                     
                                                                               
  The  Healthy Families  Program  is  a  completely  voluntary                 
  program,  paraprofessional  based,  home visitation  program                 
  that seeks  to address  the needs  of the  child within  the                 
  context of  the family, recognizing the adults in the family                 
  as primary decision makers.  The objective of the program is                 
  to  prevent  child abuse  and  neglect, assist  families and                 
  communities  in  identifying  needs,  and  helping  families                 
  receive  the health and  social services which  they need to                 
  improve family functioning and health status.                                
                                                                               
  Ms. Pearser  acknowledged that  costs will  vary by  region,                 
  education experience  levels of  personnel hired  and actual                 
  attrition rates.  It  is expected that the evaluation  costs                 
  will  be covered  by  federal MCH  dollars  provided to  the                 
  Department  of   Health  and  Social  Services  for  systems                 
  development  work.   The  funding  formula assumes  that the                 
  projects will be  provided by local community  agencies with                 
  funding via competitive grants and contracts.                                
                                                                               
  Ms.  Pearser advised that  there is interest  on the federal                 
  level to make these grants available.  Currently, there  are                 
  fund sources available from private foundations and business                 
  corporations.                                                                
                                                                               
                                                                               
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  SHARON   REBAR,   EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,   CATHOLIC  COMMUNITY                 
  SERVICES, JUNEAU, provided the Committee  with a copy of her                 
  testimony.   [Copy on  file].  She  spoke in support  of the                 
  Healthy Families program stating that the program is simple,                 
  family oriented and cost  effective.  Research provided from                 
  projects  operated in  Hawaii and Arizona  have demonstrated                 
  success  rates  including reduced  child abuse  and neglect,                 
  AFDC dependency, foster care,  juvenile crime and  expensive                 
  medical   treatment.    Ms.   Rebar  urged  the  Committee's                 
  consideration to incorporate the program.                                    
                                                                               
  SHERRIE GOLL, ALASKA WOMEN'S LOBBY,  JUNEAU, stated that the                 
  Lobby would not support  any part of HB 409.   She urged the                 
  Committee to eliminate  the proposed rateable reductions  to                 
  the Adult Public Assistance Program.   She stressed that APA                 
  recipients would never benefit from the programs recommended                 
  for those on the AFDC program.                                               
                                                                               
  Ms.  Goll  advised  that  the  propositions  recommended  in                 
  Section 5 would most likely be  part of the National Welfare                 
  Reform package.  She questioned  spending the proposed funds                 
  for  a demonstration  project "workfare"  which  will impact                 
  only a few  persons in the State, when in a years time every                 
  person in the State will be able to share in those increased                 
  earnings through federal participation.                                      
                                                                               
  Ms. Goll stated  that the Women's  Lobby does not object  to                 
  the  workfare  program  or  people  being placed  in  unpaid                 
  positions.  Although,  she noted the program  would not help                 
  to create greater self sufficiency for welfare participants.                 
  The only  obvious benefit  would  be for  taxpayers to  feel                 
  better  about people  who  receive welfare  benefits because                 
  they would be working off their stipends.                                    
                                                                               
  Ms. Goll added that studies have indicated that the workfare                 
  program  was not designed for people with children under six                 
  years  of  age.    She  advised  that the  JOBS  program  is                 
  currently successful  and urged the Committee  to reconsider                 
  the proposed legislation.                                                    
                                                                               
  Ms.  Goll  concluded,  by summarizing  the  thoughts  of the                 
  Women's Lobby regarding  the budget crisis and  solutions to                 
  address it.                                                                  
                                                                               
       1.   Increasing taxes.                                                  
       2.   Placing a longevity bonus on a needs basis.                        
       3.   Capping the Permanent Fund Dividend.                               
                                                                               
  HB 409 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                      

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