Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/29/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 74(EDC) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved SJR 9 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
        SJR  9-CONST.AM: APPROP. BILL FOR PUBL EDUCATION                                                                    
9:22:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   STEVENS  reconvened   the  meeting   and  announced   the                                                               
consideration  of  SJR  9.  He  asked  the  sponsor  if  she  had                                                               
additional comments.                                                                                                            
9:22:21 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MIA  COSTELLO, speaking as  prime sponsor of SJR  9, said                                                               
the  original testimony  highlighted  that it  creates havoc  for                                                               
school districts to pass education  funding later in the session.                                                               
She summarized  that last session the  legislature forward funded                                                               
education with $50 million,  which districts appreciated. Another                                                               
issue  in  testimony was  that  Alaska  needs certainty  for  the                                                               
economy and that  extends to the education  community. She opined                                                               
that  forward   funding  will  benefit  students   because  their                                                               
teachers  will be  there  for the  long  haul and  administrators                                                               
won't be  required to  issue pink slips  to teachers  every year.                                                               
She explained  that it is  preferable to address  forward funding                                                               
education with a constitutional  amendment, not a statute change,                                                               
because one legislature is not allowed to encumber another.                                                                     
9:24:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH said  he appreciates the intent  and is comfortable                                                               
with  forward  funding  but is  concerned  about  compelling  the                                                               
legislature  to commit  such significant  financial resources  by                                                               
the 45th  day of the session.  Education is just one  of a myriad                                                               
of vital issues  the legislature needs to  balance. He summarized                                                               
that  he supports  the intent  but  is concerned  about how  this                                                               
might impact the budget process.                                                                                                
9:26:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said she too  appreciates the intent because it is                                                               
a real problem  for school districts but she  also shares Senator                                                               
Birch's concern.  She offered  an outside  the box  suggestion to                                                               
convene the legislature in October  or November, take a Christmas                                                               
break, and return in January.                                                                                                   
9:26:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS commented  that the suggestion is  outside the box,                                                               
but he appreciates the thought.                                                                                                 
9:27:09 AM                                                                                                                    
ELWIN  BLACKWELL,  School  Finance Manager,  School  Finance  and                                                               
Facilities   Section,   Department   of   Education   and   Early                                                               
Development (DEED)  said the fiscal  notes associated with  SJR 9                                                               
are zero. There  is no expectation that this  would impact DEED's                                                               
budget  processes  and  procedures.  But  it  would  require  the                                                               
governor's  office to  submit a  separate, K-12  education budget                                                               
for public schools to be presented to the legislature.                                                                          
9:28:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony.                                                                                          
9:28:29 AM                                                                                                                    
JUDY  ELEDGE,   representing  self,  Anchorage,   Alaska,  stated                                                               
opposition  to the  constitutional amendment  proposed in  SJR 9.                                                               
She argued that  constitutional amendments must only  be used for                                                               
great  policy changes,  not as  a  budget process.  As a  retired                                                               
educator who  has received pink slips  in the past, she  said she                                                               
agrees  that change  is needed,  but not  as proposed  in SJR  9.                                                               
Rather,  the pink  slip issue  can be  corrected by  changing the                                                               
budget deadline in AS 14.14.060 from  May 1 to June 1. She opined                                                               
that  constitutionally mandating  that K-12  education be  funded                                                               
first is  unfair and  it reduces the  power of  appropriation for                                                               
the   legislature.  She   expressed   concern  about   unintended                                                               
consequences if education  gets a bigger piece of  the budget pie                                                               
early on and suggested the  committee consider creative solutions                                                               
such  as a  three-year pilot  program of  forward funding  if all                                                               
districts agree to keep their funding at the same level.                                                                        
9:31:06 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID BOYLE, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, described SJR                                                               
9  as a  solution for  a problem  caused by  the legislature  and                                                               
local  taxing  entities. He  said  AS  14.14.060 requires  school                                                               
districts to  submit their budget  for the following  school year                                                               
by May 1,  but the legislature's budget work is  not done timely.                                                               
He said this is a process issue  and a calendar issue that can be                                                               
corrected  by changing  the date  in the  statute from  May 1  to                                                               
sometime  in  June.  He posited  that  constitutional  amendments                                                               
should not be used for  budget process issues. If this resolution                                                               
were to pass,  K-12 education would be first in  line for funding                                                               
and  would not  compete on  an  equal basis  with public  safety,                                                               
transportation,  and health  and  social  services. He  concluded                                                               
that putting  K-12 funding  in the  Alaska constitution  will not                                                               
improve  student  achievement or  ensure  that  public funds  are                                                               
spent wisely.                                                                                                                   
9:36:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  closed public testimony.  He noted that SJR  9 had                                                               
referrals to Judiciary and Finance and solicited a motion.                                                                      
9:37:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES moved  to report SJR 9, Version  S, from committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                  
There being no  objection, SJR 9 moved from  the Senate Education                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             
9:37:18 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
9:38:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS reconvened the committee.                                                                                         
SENATOR COSTELLO expressed appreciation to the individuals who                                                                  
called in to testify.