Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

04/19/2021 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HB 169 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 169                                                                                                            
     "An Act making appropriations for public education and                                                                     
     transportation of students; and providing for an                                                                           
     effective date."                                                                                                           
1:36:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster OPENED public testimony.                                                                                        
COREY  AIST,   TEACHER,  ANCHORAGE   EDUCATION  ASSOCIATION,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), testified  in support of the                                                                    
legislation.  He  shared   information  about  his  teaching                                                                    
career in Alaska. He reported  that the school year had been                                                                    
unlike any  other and  educators had  continued to  adapt as                                                                    
they supported students and families  in online and face-to-                                                                    
face learning  environments. He  stressed the  importance of                                                                    
the stability  provided by the  legislation. He  shared that                                                                    
he  had watched  over the  years as  early career  educators                                                                    
were sometimes  laid off in  May. During those times  he had                                                                    
personally reassured  younger colleagues that the  state was                                                                    
likely to restore funding and that  they would have a job in                                                                    
the  fall.  He reported  that  unfortunately  many of  those                                                                    
teachers  had found  jobs  out of  state.  He stressed  that                                                                    
recruitment was always a big  issue. He remarked it was hard                                                                    
to lose committed, enthusiastic  educators when there was an                                                                    
easy remedy. He noted the current remedy was HB 169.                                                                            
Mr. Aist spoke about the  importance of stability. He stated                                                                    
that  legislators' efforts  could either  support or  hinder                                                                    
students' success.  He thanked Representative  Rasmussen for                                                                    
her  suggestion of  forward  funding.  He relayed  educators                                                                    
were exhausted and it had been  a tough year. He stated that                                                                    
the early forward funding would  be a signal of support that                                                                    
the legislature played  an important role in  the effort. He                                                                    
thanked the committee and encouraged  the advancement of the                                                                    
1:41:18 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE  GRAY,  SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference),  shared                                                                    
that  she  had  been  a  teacher  in  the  Anchorage  School                                                                    
District  for  31  years.  She  echoed  testimony  from  the                                                                    
previous speaker. She  highlighted the disruptiveness caused                                                                    
by  uncertainty of  job security.  She  shared students  and                                                                    
teachers got  shuffled when principals were  uncertain about                                                                    
what  their staffing  would  be  in the  fall.  For at  risk                                                                    
students the  situation was an additional  trauma that could                                                                    
be avoided. She supported  separating education funding from                                                                    
the operating  budget and  passing the  bill early  in order                                                                    
for teachers, students,  and parents to know  what to expect                                                                    
in  terms  of  funding.  She thanked  Vice-Chair  Ortiz  for                                                                    
bringing the bill forward.                                                                                                      
1:43:31 PM                                                                                                                    
DON  GRAY,  FORMER  MEMBER OF  ALASKA  BOARD  OF  EDUCATION,                                                                    
FAIRBANKS (via teleconference), testified  in support of the                                                                    
legislation. He  shared that he  was a former member  of the                                                                    
Alaska  State  Board  of Education.  He  thanked  Vice-Chair                                                                    
Ortiz  for   bringing  the  proposal  forward.   He  thanked                                                                    
Representative  Rasmussen   for  recommending   the  forward                                                                    
funding  aspect   of  the  legislation  that   would  create                                                                    
additional  stability. He  thanked Representative  LeBon for                                                                    
his support  for early  funding and for  his service  on the                                                                    
Fairbanks  School Board  in the  past. He  thought education                                                                    
funding should  be kept separate  from the  more complicated                                                                    
operating budget.  He stressed  that the current  times were                                                                    
challenging  and without  precedent.  He  remarked that  the                                                                    
operating  budget may  be slowed  down due  to uncertainties                                                                    
about  the  American  Rescue Plan  Act  (ARPA)  funding.  He                                                                    
believed waiting  for clarification would be  detrimental to                                                                    
education.  He emphasized  that  the state's  responsibility                                                                    
for  education  was one  of  the  few  things in  the  state                                                                    
constitution.  He reiterated  his support  for the  bill and                                                                    
keeping  education  funding   separate  from  the  operating                                                                    
1:47:42 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  DORAN,  PRESIDENT,  FAIRBANKS SCHOOL  BOARD,  FAIRBANKS                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  thanked  committee members  for  the                                                                    
bill  and their  support of  the bill.  He was  in favor  of                                                                    
separating  the  education  budget  from  the  rest  of  the                                                                    
operating budget  in order to provide  funding certainty. He                                                                    
shared that Fairbanks had completed  its draft budget and it                                                                    
was currently  under consideration  by the  borough assembly                                                                    
for  the local  contribution.  He reported  that the  school                                                                    
board  had  taken  a  conservative,  cautious  approach.  He                                                                    
understood  that  the  governor had  indicated  support  for                                                                    
fully  funding  a flat  Base  Student  Allocation (BSA).  He                                                                    
stated that until  the state budget was  approved, there was                                                                    
a  certain  amount  of uncertainty.  He  shared  that  early                                                                    
notification  on the  funding  amount made  a difference  in                                                                    
terms of district planning.                                                                                                     
Mr. Doran  reported that  COVID-19 had been  a major  hit in                                                                    
the past  year. The district  was looking at  COVID recovery                                                                    
in the next  year and the more funding certainty  it had for                                                                    
planning  purposes,  the  better.   He  explained  that  the                                                                    
district had  to let tenured  staff know whether  they would                                                                    
have  jobs  the  following  fall   by  May  15;  non-tenured                                                                    
teachers had  to be notified by  May 20. He shared  that the                                                                    
district had  to start the  process in the coming  weeks. He                                                                    
elaborated on  the process. He  stated that  Fairbanks ended                                                                    
up subsidizing transportation when  it was not fully funded.                                                                    
The district  did not  have the option  going into  the next                                                                    
fiscal  year.  He  heartily  supported  forward  funding  of                                                                    
education. He explained that it  had been very beneficial to                                                                    
the  district a  couple  of years  back.  He encouraged  the                                                                    
passage of the bill.                                                                                                            
Co-Chair  Foster recognized  that  Representative LeBon  and                                                                    
Representative Thompson had joined the meeting.                                                                                 
Co-Chair Foster CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Foster noted  that the committee may  return to the                                                                    
bill to  address an amendment [note:  the committee returned                                                                    
to HB 169 at 2:20 p.m.].                                                                                                        
Co-Chair Foster handed the gavel to Co-Chair Merrick.                                                                           
1:54:30 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
1:55:12 PM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 169                                                                                                            
     "An Act making appropriations for public education and                                                                     
     transportation of students; and providing for an                                                                           
     effective date."                                                                                                           
2:20:03 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster communicated there  were no amendments to be                                                                    
Co-Chair Merrick  MOVED to  REPORT HB  169 out  of committee                                                                    
with individual recommendations.                                                                                                
Representative   Carpenter  OBJECTED   for  discussion.   He                                                                    
acknowledged  the importance  of the  conversation on  early                                                                    
funding  of education.  He stated  that  without a  [budget]                                                                    
committee  substitute   (CS),  the  committee   was  further                                                                    
justifying the need to early  fund education due to the lack                                                                    
of a budget.  He thought the committee was  holding the rest                                                                    
of the state budget hostage  while it acted on one component                                                                    
of the  budget. He believed  it was highly  inappropriate to                                                                    
send the  bill out of  committee without any context  of how                                                                    
it  would be  received within  the  rest of  the budget.  He                                                                    
thought a conversation about early  funding should be a part                                                                    
of the  conversation within the  context of the budget  as a                                                                    
Representative Carpenter  stated it  was a bad  precedent to                                                                    
pick one  component of  the budget and  send it  forward for                                                                    
discussion. He  highlighted that the previous  year, most of                                                                    
the budget had been finished  within 90 days. He stressed it                                                                    
was in  the committee's  power to  finish the  budget, which                                                                    
would avoid a discussion of  early funding for education. He                                                                    
did not know  what the delay was in terms  of receiving a CS                                                                    
that would  put education in  context with all of  the other                                                                    
important funding items for the  coming year. He opined that                                                                    
piecemealing the  budget was  inappropriate, unprofessional,                                                                    
poor  management,  and  set  a bad  precedent.  He  did  not                                                                    
believe HB 169 should be  sent from committee without seeing                                                                    
the rest of the budget.                                                                                                         
2:23:09 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Josephson  believed HB  169 was a  good bill.                                                                    
He remarked that  he had been in Juneau  for special session                                                                    
in the past  in most months of the year.  He underscored the                                                                    
possibility  the  legislature could  be  in  Juneau in  June                                                                    
without a  budget. He had experienced  the situation several                                                                    
times.  He   stated  the  statutory   non-retention  letters                                                                    
required the  education funding carveout  [from the  rest of                                                                    
the budget]  in order to preserve  continuity for educators,                                                                    
administrators,  and staff.  He referenced  the [budget]  CS                                                                    
and believed  it was understood that  the legislature wanted                                                                    
a  say   on  how  $1.1   billion  [in  federal   funds]  was                                                                    
appropriated. He believed it was  part and parcel the reason                                                                    
for  some  delay.  He  noted  that  the  governor  had  just                                                                    
released  his own  version of  the  bill. He  asked why  the                                                                    
legislature should be ahead of  the governor. He stated that                                                                    
the money would  have to be spent in one  fashion or another                                                                    
and he believed it made perfect sense to do so via HB 169.                                                                      
2:24:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Rasmussen  thought the bill  was appropriate.                                                                    
She recognized the timing was  slightly wonky due to the 30-                                                                    
day delay with organization [in  the House]. She stated that                                                                    
with  Alaska ranking  close to  the bottom  in many  student                                                                    
outcomes,  she did  not believe  the state  could afford  to                                                                    
risk   losing  any   more  good   teachers  due   to  fiscal                                                                    
uncertainty  and pink  slips  going  out unnecessarily.  She                                                                    
highlighted the constitutional  and statutory obligation and                                                                    
formula for  funding K-12 education.  She remarked  that the                                                                    
issue was  not up for  a lot  of debate until  the statutory                                                                    
BSA law was  changed. She had not seen  any bills introduced                                                                    
in the  current session that  would change the  formula. She                                                                    
opined  that until  the legislature  did something  else, HB
169 was  incredibly appropriate  and the  right thing  to do                                                                    
for  teachers and  students. She  spoke about  the need  for                                                                    
stability and  retention of  talented teachers.  She pointed                                                                    
out  that   teachers  could  go   other  places   with  more                                                                    
certainty.  She believed  it was  not  professional for  the                                                                    
state  to put  districts  in the  position  of sending  pink                                                                    
slips to staff every year. She supported the bill.                                                                              
Co-Chair Foster recognized  Representative Edgmon had joined                                                                    
the meeting.                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool  supported  the bill.  He  shared  that                                                                    
before he  had run  for the legislature,  the issue  of pink                                                                    
slips and delays  had come up for his  district. He remarked                                                                    
that because  the district  did not  receive funding  at the                                                                    
right time  it had been  forced to  send out pink  slips. He                                                                    
noted   it  was   done  frequently.   He  believed   it  was                                                                    
unprofessional. He  stressed the importance of  holding onto                                                                    
valued  teachers.  He had  heard  many  stories of  teachers                                                                    
leaving. He  referenced public testimony earlier  in the day                                                                    
about teachers  receiving pink slips. He  remarked that some                                                                    
teachers  endured  the  situation several  times  but  after                                                                    
awhile  they decided  it was  enough. He  believed the  bill                                                                    
communicated  that  the   legislature  valued  teachers  and                                                                    
valued  them enough  to put  them  out front  of the  budget                                                                    
process.  He  agreed education  should  be  and was  in  the                                                                    
budget  and was  mandated by  the constitution.  He remarked                                                                    
that  for various  reasons the  budget was  not passed  in a                                                                    
timely  manner,  which  was  not  in  any  one  individual's                                                                    
control.  He supported  getting  the  education funding  out                                                                    
ahead. He  stated the  funding was  fairly formulaic  with a                                                                    
BSA and predicted  number of students. He noted  it could be                                                                    
adjusted later.  He believed the legislature  should get the                                                                    
majority  of  the  funding  out  immediately  to  avoid  the                                                                    
sending of  pink slips. He  stated that teachers  had enough                                                                    
trouble  and  stress  in  the   past  couple  of  years.  He                                                                    
underscored  that adding  more  stress  was preventable.  He                                                                    
supported moving forward with the legislation.                                                                                  
2:28:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Edgmon  apologized  that   he  had  been  in                                                                    
another meeting. He believed it  should be mandatory for the                                                                    
legislature to  pass the education budget  early every year.                                                                    
He believed  eight out of  ten teachers in Alaska  came from                                                                    
out-of-state. He detailed  that the absence of  a budget put                                                                    
teachers in a  position where they did not know  if they had                                                                    
a job  and they had  to decide  whether to relocate  back to                                                                    
their  home state  or elsewhere.  He strongly  supported the                                                                    
2:29:50 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster  voiced his support for  the legislation. He                                                                    
stated that early funding of  education had been done in the                                                                    
past. He highlighted that the  bill followed the formula and                                                                    
did not make any increases.  He understood the argument that                                                                    
education funding  should be  put in  context of  the larger                                                                    
budget.  He believed  the argument  for including  education                                                                    
funding with  the rest  of the budget  would be  stronger if                                                                    
the  legislature  was  making increases.  He  reasoned  that                                                                    
because no  changes were  being made,  the benefit  of early                                                                    
funding outweighed  the cost. He  referred to  the statutory                                                                    
deadline  for layoff  notices. Additionally,  there was  the                                                                    
extraordinary circumstance  of the forthcoming  federal ARPA                                                                    
funding the legislature had to  determine how to incorporate                                                                    
in the  operating budget. He  stated that the  situation had                                                                    
slowed the process  down. He did not  believe schools should                                                                    
have to feel the brunt of the situation.                                                                                        
Representative Carpenter  remarked that  the hearing  on the                                                                    
previous bill [SB  19] indicated an increase  in funding for                                                                    
SESA  [Special Education  Service  Agency].  He reasoned  it                                                                    
meant the legislature was  increasing funding for education.                                                                    
He did  not know whether  other areas in education  would be                                                                    
increased because he did not  have a budget to reference. He                                                                    
understood  that   forward  funding  or  early   funding  of                                                                    
education improved  the ability of subordinate  or follow-on                                                                    
agencies  to do  their budgets;  however, the  committee did                                                                    
not have  a budget to  reference for context. He  asked when                                                                    
the committee would  see a [budget] CS.  He underscored that                                                                    
someone was making a decision  to put federal funding on top                                                                    
of state funding  in a budget. He assumed it  was the reason                                                                    
for the delay.  He remarked that an alternative  was to have                                                                    
two  separate bills.  He  thought one  bill  with state  and                                                                    
federal funding combined would be hard to understand.                                                                           
Co-Chair  Foster replied  that he  had  hoped to  have a  CS                                                                    
before  the committee  the previous  Monday. He  shared that                                                                    
the  Legislative  Finance  Division  had  relayed  it  could                                                                    
provide some  suggestions on what  the legislature  could do                                                                    
in  using some  of the  ARPA funds.  He elaborated  that the                                                                    
governor had  ended up  rolling out his  bill that  had come                                                                    
out  earlier  in   the  day.  He  stated   there  were  many                                                                    
complexities in the process and  he had told people it would                                                                    
not  be easy.  He  was trying  to  make the  best  out of  a                                                                    
difficult situation in terms of getting  a CS out as soon as                                                                    
possible, while trying  to determine how to  manage the ARPA                                                                    
2:33:21 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Rasmussen  believed   the  SESA  funds  fell                                                                    
outside the  BSA and pupil transportation  funds. She stated                                                                    
her  understanding that  HB 169  was the  statutory required                                                                    
formula for the BSA and pupil transportation only.                                                                              
Vice-Chair Ortiz  believed the SESA funding  was not related                                                                    
to the funding formula bill before the committee.                                                                               
Co-Chair   Foster  agreed.   He   spoke  to   Representative                                                                    
Carpenter's point. He  stated that the SESA  funding did not                                                                    
increase the BSA  formula. He explained that  the release of                                                                    
a CS had  been slowed down by the effort  to include some of                                                                    
the ARPA funding.                                                                                                               
2:35:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Carpenter WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                                                                
There being NO further OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                            
HB 169 was REPORTED out of committee with ten "do pass"                                                                         
recommendations and one "no recommendation" recommendation.                                                                     
2:35:59 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
2:36:07 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster reviewed the schedule for the following                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB019_SESA-Sunset_Support Letters_bundled_as of 24Feb2021.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
SB019_SESA-Sunset_Research_LBA-Audit_Full-Report_03April2020.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
SB019_SESA_Presentation_Revised_07April2021.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
SB019_SESA-Sunset_Sectional_version i.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
SB019_SESA-Sunset_SponsorStatement.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
SB019_SESA-Sunset_Summary-of-Changes_from A to B.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
SB019_SESA-Sunset_Summary-of-Changes_from B to i.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
SB 19
HB 169 Attachment 1 Foundation Formula Enrollment Comparison 041821.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 169
HB 169 4.14.2021 (H)FC DEED Hearing Follow-Up.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 169
HB 169 Attachment 2 Foundation Formula Timeline 041821.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 169
HB 169 Response to Q Attachment DEED 041821.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 169
HB 169 Public Testimony 042021.pdf HFIN 4/19/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 169