Legislature(2007 - 2008)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/11/2007 01:00 PM FINANCE


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01:12:08 PM Start
01:12:12 PM HB95 || HB96
06:17:24 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 95 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 96 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Public Testimony Schedule TELECONFERENCED
1:00 - 2:30 pm: Bethel, Kotzebue, Barrow,
Nome, Delta Junction, Off-Nets
2:30 - 4:00 pm: Anchorage
5:00 - 6:30 pm: Kenai, Valdez, Kodiak,
Ketchikan, Seward, Mat-Su, Glennallen,Tok
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE BILL NO. 95                                                                                                          
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and loan                                                               
     program expenses of state  government, for certain programs,                                                               
     and to  capitalize funds;  making appropriations  under art.                                                               
     IX, sec.  17(c), Constitution  of the  State of  Alaska; and                                                               
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE BILL NO. 96                                                                                                          
     "An Act making appropriations for the operating and capital                                                                
     expenses of the state's integrated comprehensive mental                                                                    
     health program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was the third hearing for  these bills in the Senate Finance                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:12:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman announced the  continuation of public testimony,                                                               
and the order in which communities would be asked to testify.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:14:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SONYA  HANDFORTH-KOME, Executive  Director,  Iliuluik Family  and                                                               
Health  Services Clinic,  Unalaska, testified  via teleconference                                                               
from an  offnet location  in Unalaska in  support of  funding for                                                               
community health  centers. The health  center in  Unalaska serves                                                               
approximately 21,000 patients each year,  and is 800 air miles to                                                               
nearest  health  care  provider  in  Anchorage.  The  clinic  was                                                               
approximately 70  percent patient  funded and received  grants to                                                               
fund remaining expenses. Alaska was  "one of the few states" that                                                               
did not provide direct funding to community health centers.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:18:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD  WYLAND, Mayor,  Seldovia,  testified via  teleconference                                                               
from  an  offnet  location  in Seldovia  in  support  of  revenue                                                               
sharing. He told  of the "desperate need" for  revenue sharing in                                                               
Seldovia.  Major cuts,  including  police  services, would  occur                                                               
without revenue sharing.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:21:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PTARMICA  MCCONNELL,  Mayor  pro-tem, Port  Alexander,  testified                                                               
from an offnet  location in Port Alexander in  support of revenue                                                               
sharing. She  spoke of the  negative effects of the  cessation of                                                               
revenue sharing  on the ability  of small communities  to provide                                                               
services for their residents.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:22:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  informed that  $48.1 million had  been included                                                               
for municipal revenue  sharing in the proposed  Senate version of                                                               
the operating budget.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:23:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GRAHAM  WARD, Glennallen,  testified from  an offnet  location in                                                               
Glennallen in  support of Senate Bills  143 and 144. As  an owner                                                               
of  a campground  in Glennallen,  he supported  increased funding                                                               
for tourism marketing.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:24:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NEIL   DARISH,   Co-Owner,    McCarthy   Lodge,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from an offnet location  in McCarthy in support of                                                               
increased  funding for  tourism  advertising. He  shared that  he                                                               
employed many local McCarthy residents  and reinvested his income                                                               
in the community.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:26:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERA GORDON, Catholic Social  Services, Delta Junction, testified                                                               
from  an  offnet  location  in   Delta  Junction  in  support  of                                                               
maintained funding  for the  Delta Junction  Job Center.  The Job                                                               
Center  was  utilized by  residents  who  did not  have  computer                                                               
access  elsewhere,  and  who  would   otherwise  have  to  travel                                                               
approximately 90 miles to Fairbanks to apply for employment.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:27:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LENA  VERECHKOVA,  Catholic   Social  Services,  Delta  Junction,                                                               
testified  via teleconference  from an  offnet location  in Delta                                                               
Junction in  support of continued  funding of the  Delta Junction                                                               
Job Center.  She spoke of  the many  services offered by  the Job                                                               
Center.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. DOUGLAS  STARK, Senior Councilman,  Homer, testified  from an                                                               
offnet  location  in  Homer  in   support  of  municipal  revenue                                                               
sharing. The Homer  Borough would be required to  raise sales tax                                                               
to a combined city and borough  total sales tax of 7.5 percent in                                                               
the absence  of revenue  sharing. He foresaw  a higher  sales tax                                                               
driving  residents to  buy  their goods  outside  of Homer,  thus                                                               
exasperating the local revenue shortfalls.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:29:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PIUS  AGIMUK, Mayor,  Toksook Bay,  testified via  teleconference                                                               
from an  offnet location in  Toksook Bay in support  of municipal                                                               
revenue  sharing.  Revenue  sharing   funds  the  Village  Police                                                               
Officers (VPOs), refuse collection,  and other necessary services                                                               
for residents.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:31:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAM  MOYUK, testified  from an  offnet location  in Savoonga.  He                                                               
spoke  of  the difficulties  his  community  was experiencing  in                                                               
identifying  matching funds  for the  removal and  replacement of                                                               
tank farms, and requested the  reinstatement of municipal revenue                                                               
sharing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:32:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MYRON KINGQEETUK, Manager, Savoonga  Native Store, testified from                                                               
an offnet  location in Savoonga  in support of  municipal revenue                                                               
sharing.  He shared  that  high fuel  prices  were "hurting"  the                                                               
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:33:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHIRLEY  MARQUADT, testified  via teleconference  from an  offnet                                                               
location  in Unalaska  in support  of municipal  revenue sharing.                                                               
She told that  revenue sharing monies had  historically been used                                                               
to assist in funding local  non-profits, such as Meals on Wheels.                                                               
She added that the Public  Employees Retirement System (PERS) and                                                               
the Teachers Retirement System  (TRS) required contributions were                                                               
funded separately from any  revenue sharing considerations. Those                                                               
contribution  rates had  increased  $1.6 million  over the  prior                                                               
year,  and  she  encouraged  that the  two  issues  be  addressed                                                               
separately.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:35:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD  BENEVILLE,  Nome Discovery  Tours  and  Nome Chamber  of                                                               
Commerce, testified  via teleconference  from Nome in  support of                                                               
increased funding  for a  statewide tourism  advertising program.                                                               
He told  of the benefits  the Alaska Travel  Industry Association                                                               
(ATIA) provided  to Alaska  through increased  national awareness                                                               
of Alaska as an independent traveler destination.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:37:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MITCH  ERICKSON, Executive  Director, Nome  Chamber of  Commerce,                                                               
testified  via  teleconference  from   Nome  in  support  of  the                                                               
municipal  revenue  sharing  and Power  Cost  Equalization  (PCE)                                                               
programs. He explained  that the loss of revenue  sharing and PCE                                                               
funding resulted in "very hard times for many people".                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:38:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHARON SPARKS,  Office Manager, Alaska Legal  Services, testified                                                               
via  teleconference  from Nome  in  support  of funding  for  the                                                               
Alaska Legal Services Corporation.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:39:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELLEN RICHARD, President, Native  Village of Wales, testified via                                                               
teleconference from  an offnet  location in  Wales in  support of                                                               
increased funding for community health  centers. She spoke of the                                                               
dilapidated  condition  of the  medical  equipment  in the  Wales                                                               
clinic, as well as the clinic  itself. She also informed that the                                                               
clinic was sometimes without heat due to the high price of fuel.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:41:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WINTON  WEYAPUK JR.,  Vice President,  Native  Village of  Wales,                                                               
testified via teleconference from an  offnet location in Wales in                                                               
support of revenue sharing. He  set forth that the village relied                                                               
on revenue sharing to provide  services to the community, such as                                                               
VPOs.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:42:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WALTER   WEYAPUK,  Native   Village  of   Wales,  testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  an offnet  location in  Wales in  support of                                                               
revenue  sharing. He  described the  health clinic  as "minimally                                                               
equipped", and spoke of the lack of other community services.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:44:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
FRANK  OXEREOK  JR.,  Native  Village  of  Wales,  testified  via                                                               
teleconference from  an offnet  location in  Wales in  support of                                                               
municipal revenue  sharing. He told of  the high cost of  fuel in                                                               
the  village,   and  the  need  for   increased  law  enforcement                                                               
presence. He was "glad to hear that the money was coming in".                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:45:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTINE  KOMONASEAK, Native  Village  of  Wales, testified  via                                                               
teleconference from  an offnet  location in  Wales in  support of                                                               
municipal  revenue sharing  and energy  assistance. She  spoke of                                                               
the  necessity  of  a  clean   water  source  for  residents  and                                                               
increased availability of housing in the village.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:46:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LUTHER  KOMONASEAK,  Native  Village   of  Wales,  testified  via                                                               
teleconference from  an offnet  location in  Wales in  support of                                                               
municipal revenue  sharing. He informed that  Wales is frequented                                                               
by hunters from Russia, and the  lack of water and sewer services                                                               
create unsanitary living conditions.  He added that the village's                                                               
dump  site  had  received  State  funding but  is  too  close  to                                                               
airport, and should be relocated.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:48:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. NORMAN  ECK, Superintendent,  Northwest Artic  Borough School                                                               
District, testified  via teleconference  from an  offnet location                                                               
in Kotzebue in  support of public broadcasting.  He described the                                                               
integral  role the  local public  radio station  provided to  his                                                               
area,  including  community  and   job  announcements  and  local                                                               
language broadcasts.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:51:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN  COX,   Executive  Director,  Camai  Bristol   Bay  Borough                                                               
Community  Health Center,  testified from  an offnet  location in                                                               
Naknek in support of funding  for rural health clinics. She spoke                                                               
of  the many  services the  clinic provided  for area  residents,                                                               
Bristol Bay fishermen, and tourists.  She detailed the high costs                                                               
of  operating  the  community  health care  center  in  a  remote                                                               
location.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:54:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LATESIA   GUINN,  Executive   Director,  Bethel   Family  Clinic,                                                               
testified via  teleconference from  an offnet location  in Bethel                                                               
and  introduced MICHAEL  DOSER  [name  and spelling  unverified],                                                               
Board Member, Bethel  Family Clinic, who spoke in  support of the                                                               
community health  centers appropriation  bill, SB 106.  Alaska is                                                               
one  of  only  14  states  that do  not  assist  in  funding  the                                                               
community   health  centers.   Alaska's  health   clinics  served                                                               
approximately  80,000  patients the  previous  year,  and are  an                                                               
important aspect of health care in the State.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:56:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEANNE GERHARDT-CYRUS, Parent,  testified via teleconference from                                                               
an  offnet location  in  Kiana in  support  of behavioral  health                                                               
grants that would  provide staffing for the local  Boys and Girls                                                               
Club. She  mentioned the high  rate of  suicide in the  area, and                                                               
the Bring  the Kids Home Initiative.  She shared that one  of her                                                               
children received residential  treatment, but due to  the lack of                                                               
services upon returning home, he  was currently in the custody of                                                               
the Department of Corrections.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:00:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AGNES  MOSES,   testified  via  teleconference  from   an  offnet                                                               
location  in Golovin  in support  of  restored municipal  revenue                                                               
sharing. She detailed the services  this funding would provide to                                                               
local  residents, including  funding the  city's insurance,  road                                                               
maintenance, and VPO positions.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:01:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELAINE PRICE,  Project Manager, City  of Coffman  Cove, testified                                                               
via teleconference  from an  offnet location  in Coffman  Cove in                                                               
support  of  revenue  sharing  to  assist  in  the  provision  of                                                               
required services.  PERS and  TRS relief  would not  benefit many                                                               
small  communities,   as  they   do  not  participate   in  those                                                               
retirement systems.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:02:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JO  PUTMAN, Secretary,  Public  Defenders  Office, testified  via                                                               
teleconference from Nome  in support of funding  for Alaska Legal                                                               
Services  offices.  She told  that  the  Public Defenders  Office                                                               
represents only  clients appointed  counsel by  a judge,  and all                                                               
other individuals  in need of  legal assistance inundate  the few                                                               
Legal Services Offices in operation.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:03:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DANIEL  LIENBERGER, Mayor,  Bethel, testified  via teleconference                                                               
from an offnet  location in Bethel in support  of the restoration                                                               
of revenue sharing.  He divulged that 2006  represented the first                                                               
year of  net migration  out of  Bethel in  "a generation"  due to                                                               
high  cost of  living. Revenue  sharing would  allow the  city to                                                               
provide  services  without  the "depressing"  effect  of  raising                                                               
sales tax.  He recommended a  long-term plan for  revenue sharing                                                               
to assist smaller communities in planning their budgets.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Lienberger also addressed the  "PERS and TRS issue". The city                                                               
of  Bethel,  like  many   other  Alaskan  communities,  witnessed                                                               
dramatic  increases  in  retirement   liability  costs  over  the                                                               
previous year.  He encouraged a  long term solution to  attend to                                                               
that looming financial burden.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:08:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CONNIE WALKER,  Holy Cross, testified via  teleconference from an                                                               
offnet location in Holy Cross  in support of the reinstatement of                                                               
revenue sharing.  She spoke  of the  community benefits  that are                                                               
supported  by revenue  sharing, and  informed that  PERS and  TRS                                                               
funding should be considered separately.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:10:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIMMY HURLEY,  Former Mayor, Ekwok, testified  via teleconference                                                               
from an offnet location in  Ekwok in support of municipal revenue                                                               
sharing.  While  sales  taxes   generate  some  revenue  for  the                                                               
community, revenue  sharing is vital  to the health of  the area.                                                               
He added that the village safe  water project needed to be "tuned                                                               
up".                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:12:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. DAVID  BAINES, Family Physician,  Iliuliuk Family  and Health                                                               
Services Clinic,  Unalaska, testified via teleconference  from an                                                               
offnet location in  Unalaska in support of  funding for community                                                               
health centers. The clinic provided  a broad spectrum of services                                                               
for uninsured and  underinsured patients on a  sliding scale, and                                                               
state  funding would  allow  the clinic  to  continue to  provide                                                               
those important services.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:14:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEN ESCH, Nome, testified via  teleconference in support of fully                                                               
funding the Alaska  Legal Services Corporation at  $300,000. As a                                                               
superior court  judge, he recognized  the steps the  legal system                                                               
had  taken   in  providing  information  via   the  Internet.  He                                                               
explained that  in civil cases  such as divorce or  child custody                                                               
hearings,  the  judge  can appoint  counsel  only  under  certain                                                               
circumstances.  He   encouraged  the  Committee  to   fund  Legal                                                               
Services  to  better   serve  all  Alaskans  in   need  of  legal                                                               
assistance, regardless of their financial situation.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:16:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAN O'HARA, Mayor, Bristol Bay  Borough, testified from an offnet                                                               
location in Bristol Bay in  support of restored municipal revenue                                                               
sharing. He  was concerned  with the  increasing costs  of health                                                               
care, energy, and local school funding.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:18:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEVERLEE  TYNER,  Craig,  testified via  teleconference  from  an                                                               
offnet location  in Craig  in support of  funding for  the Alaska                                                               
Legal Services  Corporation. She  worked with  the elders  in the                                                               
area,  and  generalized the  income  level  on Prince  of  Whales                                                               
Island as "low". She mentioned  that there were no legal services                                                               
available  on the  Island, and  she  referred people  in need  of                                                               
legal assistance to  the Legal Services Office  in Ketchikan. She                                                               
encouraged the continued funding for Alaska Legal Services.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:21:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BILL ALTLAND,  Owner, Whales Tail Pharmacy,  Craig, testified via                                                               
teleconference  from  an  offnet  location in  Craig  in  support                                                               
continued  funding   for  community  health  care   centers.  The                                                               
community health  center in Klawock  was the only  emergency care                                                               
provider accessible  Mr. Altland's family and  other residents of                                                               
the island.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:23:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHERRY DECKER, Owner, Hair Doctor  Styling Salon, Delta Junction,                                                               
testified  via teleconference  from an  offnet location  in Delta                                                               
Junction in support of funding  for the Delta Junction Job Center                                                               
during the current "boom". She  spoke of the effective assistance                                                               
provided  by the  Delta Junction  Job Center,  and noted  that in                                                               
rural  communities,   on-line  employment  activities   are  less                                                               
successful. She listed  savings to the State in the  form of less                                                               
"welfare" expenditures.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:25:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
FERDINAND SHARP,  Mayor, Manokotak, testified  via teleconference                                                               
from  an offnet  location in  Manokotak in  support of  municipal                                                               
revenue  sharing. The  community utilized  one third  of budgeted                                                               
funds for fuel for work  vehicles that performed services such as                                                               
snow removal.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:27:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD  ELSTROM,  City  Manager,  Saint  Mary's,  testified  via                                                               
teleconference  from  an  offnet  location  in  Saint  Mary's  in                                                               
support of revenue sharing. He  echoed previous speakers' remarks                                                               
on the  subject, noting  that the  city expended  revenue sharing                                                               
funds  for  basic  needs,  including the  salaries  of  the  city                                                               
employees.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:28:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BYRON CHARLES,  Ketchikan, testified  via teleconference  from an                                                               
offnet  location in  support of  the Alaska  Job Corps  Center in                                                               
Palmer. He told  of the benefits the Center had  provided to both                                                               
him  and his  daughter,  and requested  further  funding for  the                                                               
Center.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:31:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RON PECK,  President Alaska  Travel Industry  Association (ATIA),                                                               
Anchorage, testified  in Juneau  in support of  increased funding                                                               
for  "core" and  "independent"  marketing  programs. He  informed                                                               
that  the number  of  independent travelers  to  Alaska had  been                                                               
declining in recent  years, and that the  increased funding would                                                               
allow  ATIA to  support tourism  marketing in  smaller, out-lying                                                               
areas of the State.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:33:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIRK  HOESSEL, President,  Alaska Wildland  Adventures, Girdwood,                                                               
testified  in   Juneau  in  support  of   increased  "destination                                                               
marketing  funding"  to ATIA.  He  emphasized  that the  increase                                                               
would  provide  support  and  benefits  for  thousands  of  small                                                               
businesses  throughout  the  State   as  well  as  support  rural                                                               
economic development.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:36:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVE WORRELL, Communications Director,  ATIA, testified in Juneau                                                               
in   support  of   increased  funding   for   ATIA.  He   likened                                                               
"reinvesting"  in  Alaska's  tourism   industry  to  the  State's                                                               
reinvestment  in commercial  fisheries  through contributions  to                                                               
the Alaska  Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).  He requested the                                                               
Committee add  $18 million to  fund "core" tourism  marketing and                                                               
an additional $8.5 million for independent tourism marketing.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:37:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Elton, as the former  Executive Director of ASMI, pointed                                                               
out that  the seafood industry sees  an 18 cent "match"  on every                                                               
dollar  it contributes  to ASMI.  ATIA, by  comparison, enjoys  a                                                               
funding  rate of  four  dollars  for every  dollar  it spends  on                                                               
advertising. He "felt  compelled to note the  difference," as the                                                               
current ATIA request would double  the State's contribution while                                                               
ATIA's contribution rate would not increase.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:38:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.   Worrell  admitted   that  there   existed  an   inequitable                                                               
difference  in funding  proportions. He  qualified that  in years                                                               
past, the  ATIA budget had  been funded approximately  50 percent                                                               
by voluntary contributions made  by large industry companies, and                                                               
the  State  had  matched  those   funds.  ATIA  anticipated  less                                                               
voluntary contributions  from large  industry members due  to the                                                               
passage of the  "cruise ship ballot initiative,"  and thus deemed                                                               
it appropriate to  designate a portion of  those monies collected                                                               
to be used by ATIA in its advertising efforts.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:39:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JILL   SIMPSON,   Director,    International   Marketing,   ATIA,                                                               
Anchorage, testified  in Juneau  in support of  increased funding                                                               
for ATIA.  She explained  that Alaska is  not competitive  in the                                                               
global  marketplace. International  travelers  were important  to                                                               
Alaska because they  tended to spend more  time exploring Alaska,                                                               
which resulted  in more  revenue for  the State,  including rural                                                               
areas that do not benefit from cruise ship traffic.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:41:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HEATHER DUDICK,  Marketing Director, Alaska  Wildland Adventures,                                                               
Girdwood,  testified in  Juneau in  support of  increased funding                                                               
for  the "destination  marketing" program  operated by  ATIA. She                                                               
spoke  of  the  benefits  ATIA  provides  to  small,  independent                                                               
tourism companies through the  "vacation planner" publication and                                                               
the ATIA webpage,  which allow business owners  to showcase their                                                               
offerings to a larger audience.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:43:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  KREILKAMP,  Vice  President  of  Operations,  Cruise  West,                                                               
Anchorage, testified  in Juneau  in support of  increased funding                                                               
for ATIA.  He informed  that Cruise West  offers tours  to twenty                                                               
small costal  communities in  Alaska. These  boats bring  a "cash                                                               
economy" to  areas that would  not be able to  effectively market                                                               
themselves as a tourism destination.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:45:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CAROL   COMEAU,   Superintendent,  Anchorage   School   District,                                                               
testified  via teleconference  from Anchorage  in support  of the                                                               
modified PERS  and TRS rates,  as a  set rate would  allow school                                                               
districts more certainty in their  budget planning. She supported                                                               
consideration of  the "area cost  differential" contained  in the                                                               
Institute of Social and Economic  Research (ISER) study completed                                                               
by the University of Alaska,  but only if Anchorage also received                                                               
an increase in funding.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  asked the  annual cost to  the district  of the                                                               
new contract recently negotiated and accepted by the assembly.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Comeau replied  that the first year costs  were considered in                                                               
the  current  budget, but  anticipated  the  need for  additional                                                               
funds to account for the increase in subsequent years.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:49:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN STRIPE,  Board Member,  Access Alaska,  Anchorage, testified                                                               
via  teleconference  from Anchorage  in  support  of a  permanent                                                               
$100,000 increase in the funding  for Independent Living Centers.                                                               
The centers had received level  funding but had experienced a 112                                                               
percent  increase   in  costs.   He  additionally   requested  an                                                               
allocation of at least $94,000  for interpreter referral services                                                               
for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:53:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEBORAH HANSEN,  Director of Marketing  and Sales,  Rust's Flying                                                               
Service  and  K2  Aviation, Anchorage,  testified  in  Juneau  in                                                               
support  of increased  funding for  ATIA  marketing efforts.  She                                                               
explained  that  small  tourism  companies  spend  their  profits                                                               
within  the State,  differing from  large  cruise ship  companies                                                               
that take  their revenues  out-of-state. She  received 20  to 160                                                               
"leads"  each  month through  the  ATIA  travel planner  service,                                                               
which  provided  advertising  that  the  small  businesses  would                                                               
otherwise not be able to afford.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:56:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM  STEELE,   Anchorage  School  Board  Member,   testified  via                                                               
teleconference  in  Anchorage  in  support of  a  "set"  employer                                                               
contribution rate for PERS and  TRS benefit obligations. He spoke                                                               
to the need  for "forward funding" to assist  school districts in                                                               
fiscal planning.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:59:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SANDRA  HEFFERN,  Owner  and  CEO,   Ready  Care,  testified  via                                                               
teleconference  from   Anchorage  in  support  of   an  increased                                                               
reimbursement  rate for  personal  care  attendant services.  The                                                               
current  reimbursement  rate  of  $21   per  hour  had  not  been                                                               
increased  since 1998,  though  operational  costs had  increased                                                               
dramatically.  She identified  an inequity  between the  Medicaid                                                               
reimbursement  level  provided  for institutional  care  and  the                                                               
reimbursement  provided  for  home-based  care  in  the  proposed                                                               
budget. Hospitals  and nursing homes  received an  increase every                                                               
four  years, and  an inflation  adjustment in  alternating years.                                                               
Home  care had  not  received  an increase  since  1998, and  she                                                               
opined   that    the   budget   reflected   a    preference   for                                                               
institutionalizing the elderly or disabled.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:03:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANTHONY  RIVAS,  Student  Body President,  University  of  Alaska                                                               
Anchorage,  testified   via  teleconference  from   Anchorage  in                                                               
support of  increased funding for  the University's  fixed costs.                                                               
As a student,  he understood that the University  would suffer if                                                               
it  was  not  able  to   provide  attractive  programs,  such  as                                                               
engineering and nursing, to draw in new students.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  ROBERSON,  Student   Body  President-Elect,  University  of                                                               
Alaska Anchorage, testified via  teleconference from Anchorage in                                                               
support  of full  funding for  the University's  fixed costs.  He                                                               
spoke  of "frustrated"  students  entering  the nursing  program,                                                               
which has a two-year waiting period.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:06:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIRMANIE  RAVARIERE,  Student,  University of  Alaska  Anchorage,                                                               
testified via  teleconference from Anchorage in  support of fully                                                               
funding  the  fixed  costs  of   the  University.  He  identified                                                               
international  benefits that  could be  achieved by  sufficiently                                                               
funding   the   University   of  Alaska's   programs,   including                                                               
international political, social, and economic gains.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:10:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK BEGICH, Mayor, Anchorage,  testified via teleconference from                                                               
Anchorage  in support  of revenue  sharing throughout  Alaska. He                                                               
informed  that  the average  property  owner  in Anchorage  would                                                               
enjoy  a  savings  of  approximately $420  per  home  if  revenue                                                               
sharing  dollars  were  applied  to property  taxes,  as  is  the                                                               
practice in  that city. He  stressed the vast  difference between                                                               
municipal revenue  sharing and PERS  and TRS  funding assistance,                                                               
as 94 communities without State  employees would not benefit from                                                               
the PERS and TRS monies.  Municipal revenue sharing would provide                                                               
these  communities  with  a  small portion  of  the  State's  oil                                                               
proceeds.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:14:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  reminded  that   the  proposed  Senate  budget                                                               
contained $48.1 million to fund municipal revenue sharing.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Begich exclaimed the funding was "fantastic".                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:15:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NORMAN TATE,  Student, University of Alaska  Anchorage, testified                                                               
via teleconference  from Anchorage in opposition  to the proposed                                                               
"savings  cuts"  to  the  University  system.  He  spoke  of  the                                                               
reductions'  ability to  stem new  programs, and  possibly affect                                                               
existing programs.  This could  drive students  out of  Alaska to                                                               
seek the educational programs they desire.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:17:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEPHAINE  GORDER, Anchorage,  testified via  teleconference from                                                               
Anchorage in  support of additional  funding for ATIA. She  was a                                                               
life-long Alaskan  who operated a  small tour company,  and spoke                                                               
of  the  "unified front"  ATIA  provided  small business  through                                                               
their advertising efforts.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:18:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE THIBODEAU, Director, Covenant  House Alaska, testified via                                                               
teleconference  from  Anchorage  in  support  of  human  services                                                               
matching grant  funds. She told  that the grants are  utilized by                                                               
non-profit  organizations  to  leverage  additional  federal  and                                                               
private funding  and donations. The groups  receiving these funds                                                               
provided needed services to the citizens  of Alaska at a low cost                                                               
to the State.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:20:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TONI   JONES,  Anchorage,   testified  via   teleconference  from                                                               
Anchorage  in support  of funding  for the  University if  Alaska                                                               
Anchorage.  She  spoke  of  a 35  year  "relationship"  with  the                                                               
University,  including   her  current  position  as   an  adjunct                                                               
instructor. She  shared that  the fixed  costs of  the University                                                               
affected all other areas of its educational mission.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:25:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KARLA JUTZI, Director,  Alaska Center for the  Blind and Visually                                                               
Impaired, testified via teleconference  from Anchorage in support                                                               
of  an annual  grant  for  the special  projects  portion of  the                                                               
Alaska  division of  vocational rehabilitation.  She told  of the                                                               
Center's   ability   to    assist   visually-disabled   Alaskans,                                                               
particularly individuals in rural areas.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:29:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANET  SWANSON, Contractual  Marketing  and  Sales, Major  Marine                                                               
Tours, testified via teleconference  from Anchorage in support of                                                               
increased funding for ATIA marketing  efforts. She mentioned that                                                               
she  worked  for  four  small tour  companies,  and  tourism  has                                                               
allowed her to pay her bills and save for her retirement.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:30:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AL  KOCH,  General  Manager,  All  Alaska  Tours,  testified  via                                                               
teleconference   from   Anchorage   in  support   of   increased,                                                               
sustainable  funding for  ATIA's destination  marketing programs.                                                               
He predicted that a decline  in marketing investment would result                                                               
in a  down turn  in visitors  to the State.  He warned  that this                                                               
would have negative economic impacts on the State economy.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:33:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHY  DUNN,   Marketing  Director,  ATIA,   Anchorage  Resident,                                                               
testified in  Juneau in  support of  increased funding  for ATIA.                                                               
She  told  that  she  had  worked  in  tourism  since  1982.  She                                                               
published the  state vacation planner  for ATIA,  and distributed                                                               
the publication as requested to  people who were planning Alaskan                                                               
vacations. Requests  for the vacation planner  varied from 10,000                                                               
to 100,000 per month. ATIA is  able to advertise on television 12                                                               
weeks  per year,  and increased  funding could  allow twice  that                                                               
amount of air time.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:36:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATTHEW   ROGERS,   Graduate   Student,  University   of   Alaska                                                               
Anchorage, testified  in Juneau  in support  of full  funding for                                                               
the  University of  Alaska.  He detailed  the  many various  ways                                                               
university  graduates  can  positively affect  State  operations,                                                               
including engineering, health care and construction management.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:37:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE RUST,  Rust's Flying Service and  K2 Aviation, Anchorage,                                                               
testified  in Juneau  in support  of increased  funding for  ATIA                                                               
marketing efforts.  As a small  business owner she knew  the jobs                                                               
she  provided   on  a  seasonal  and   year-round  basis  allowed                                                               
individuals  to  live   in  areas  of  the   state  with  limited                                                               
employment  bases, such  as Talkeetna.  She  contended that  each                                                               
dollar  spent on  tourism  advertising  increased the  likelihood                                                               
that a person would select  Alaska as their vacation destination,                                                               
thus adding to the State economy.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:40:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT  LUBY,   Advocacy  Director,   AARP  Alaska,   testified  via                                                               
teleconference from Anchorage  in support of the  request for the                                                               
Alaska  primary care  health  clinics.  Community health  centers                                                               
consistently accept  Medicare patients  where other  providers do                                                               
not. He  pointed out that "Medicare  doesn't do much good  if you                                                               
can't find  a physician." Increased funding  would allow expanded                                                               
access to healthcare for Medicare patients.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:41:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARILYN   KASMAL,  Executive   Director,   Alaska  Primary   Care                                                               
Association,  testified  via  teleconference  from  Anchorage  in                                                               
support of  funding for community  health centers. She  told that                                                               
Alaskans spend $32 million on  unnecessary emergency room visits,                                                               
which  could be  avoided  if individuals  had  other options  for                                                               
healthcare services.  She informed  that U.S.  Senators Murkowski                                                               
and  Stevens   recommended  State   funding  support   for  these                                                               
important  health centers.  She  detailed  the savings  community                                                               
health  centers provide  to  the  State in  the  form of  reduced                                                               
Medicare costs.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:44:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JULIE  SAUPE, Anchorage  Convention and  Visitors Bureau  (ACVB),                                                               
testified in  Juneau in  support of  increased funding  for ATIA.                                                               
She informed that ATIA marketing  efforts often dovetail with the                                                               
ACVB marketing  programs, and sometimes extend  to very different                                                               
markets, thus increasing the scope of the advertising.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 3:46:33 PM / 4:34:43 PM                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
NOTE:  Due  to a  technical  difficulty,  the testimony  provided                                                               
between  4:34:43 PM  and  5:30:57  PM was  not  recorded on  FTR.                                                               
Therefore, the  timestamp associated  with each testifier  is for                                                               
reference only.  An alternate  recording of  this time  period is                                                               
available through the link to Gavel-to-Gavel on Basis.]                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  called  the  meeting  back  to  order.  Public                                                               
testimony from  individuals in Kenai, Valdez,  Kodiak, Ketchikan,                                                               
Mat-Su, Seward, Glennallen, and Tok  would now be heard. He asked                                                               
that comments be held to two  minutes in order to accommodate all                                                               
those desiring to testify.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:36:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LAURA CLOWARD,  Executive Director,  Seward Chamber  of Commerce,                                                               
Conference  and  Visitors  Bureau, testified  via  teleconference                                                               
from Seward  and urged the  Committee to support  the $18,000,000                                                               
request for  core funding for Alaska  Travel Industry Association                                                               
(ATIA) and  the separate $8,500,000  ATIA request for  funding to                                                               
market independent  travelers. This marketing effort  would allow                                                               
Alaska to be  competitive with other states.  Tourism is critical                                                               
to more than  275 small business Chamber members.  In addition to                                                               
strengthening  the economic  base of  communities and  the State,                                                               
visitor spending  is relied upon  to enhance business  growth and                                                               
to provide summer employment opportunities.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:37:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL CARTER, Owner, Hotel Edgewater  and Charter Option, Co-Owner                                                               
Crackerjack,  and President,  Kenai  Peninsula Tourism  Marketing                                                               
Council,  testified  via   teleconference  from  Seward.  Tourism                                                               
supports  his family  and  his business'  45  employees. It  also                                                               
benefits  numerous support  services businesses.  The State  must                                                               
"reinvest back into the tourism  industry to ensure that visitors                                                               
continue to  come to Alaska".  Unlike states such as  Florida and                                                               
Hawaii which  had dedicated  state or  tourism taxes,  Alaska, at                                                               
one time,  did not  have any mechanism  through which  to support                                                               
its  marketing  efforts,  and,   over  time,  Alaska's  marketing                                                               
dollars dropped  to 38th out  of the  50 states. 25  other states                                                               
now spend more than double the amount spent by Alaska.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Carter exclaimed that Alaska  now has the opportunity to turn                                                               
this situation around. The recently  enacted cruise ship head tax                                                               
will  generate a  significant  amount of  money  for the  State's                                                               
general fund. Some of it  should be reinvested into marketing the                                                               
State.  In  addition  to   benefiting  tourism  businesses,  this                                                               
investment  would be  a net  benefit to  State coffers.  He urged                                                               
support  for   the  $18,000,000   and  $8,500,000   ATIA  funding                                                               
requests.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:39:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHELLE  GLAVES,   Executive  Director,  Soldotna   Chamber  and                                                               
Visitors  Center testified  in Juneau  in support  of ATIA's  two                                                               
funding requests.  She described the variety  of small businesses                                                               
in Soldotna that benefit from  the tourism industry and expressed                                                               
that  funding  ATIA is  vital  to  the  survival of  the  tourism                                                               
industry  and  their  supporting  service  industries.  Increased                                                               
funding  for the  tourism industry  would also  be beneficial  to                                                               
communities.  This  is an  economic  development  issue, a  small                                                               
business issue, and a way of life issue.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:41:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHANON  HAMRICK,  Executive  Director,  Kenai  Peninsula  Tourism                                                               
Marketing Council (KPTMC),  testified in Juneau on  behalf of the                                                               
400  small  businesses on  the  Kenai  Peninsula that  depend  on                                                               
tourism.  25  percent  of  all the  businesses  licensed  on  the                                                               
Peninsula and 30  percent of all the sales  tax revenue generated                                                               
there  are  tourism  related.  ATIA  is  an  asset  to  KPTMC  as                                                               
leveraging local marketing  dollars with those of  ATIA affords a                                                               
wider national and international  marketing reach. Tourism brings                                                               
new  money to  the area.  It is  also a  renewable resource  that                                                               
encourages  entrepreneurship and  provides opportunities  for new                                                               
businesses  and  new  jobs. Supporting  ATIA's  funding  requests                                                               
would be an investment in the State's future.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:43:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Elton asked regarding the fee required to join KPTMC.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hamrick  specified that  the basic membership  fee is  $100 a                                                               
year. Expanded  marketing opportunities  were also  available for                                                               
an additional charge.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:43:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MYA  RENKEN, Executive  Director, Kenai  Convention and  Visitors                                                               
Bureau, testified  in Juneau in  support of the  funding requests                                                               
for ATIA. She recently mistook  an advertisement for the State of                                                               
Maine as an ad  for Alaska as it also featured a  moose and a dog                                                               
sled  team.  This  solidified  her  concern  that  Alaska  has  a                                                               
tremendous amount  of competition for  tourism, not only  in this                                                               
country but  globally. Funding  ATIA would  allow local  and ATIA                                                               
dollars to partner  together to deliver a  strong message. ATIA's                                                               
marketing  efforts  could  be  characterized  as  the  industry's                                                               
fishing  net as  it  is well-researched,  would be  strategically                                                               
placed, and would generate results.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:45:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BONNIE  QUILL,  Executive  Director,  Matanuska-Susitna  (Mat-Su)                                                               
Convention  and   Visitors  Bureau,   testified  in   Juneau  and                                                               
announced this  was her fifth  year of participation in  the ATIA                                                               
Legislative  Fly-In.  Funding ATIA  is  critical  as the  tourism                                                               
industry  has   taken  "a   big  hit"   this  year.   She  voiced                                                               
appreciation for  her community  officials' support  for tourism;                                                               
they recognize the  positive impact it has.  Absent a cooperative                                                               
advertising  effort  between  ATIA   and  local  businesses,  the                                                               
message  would not  reach  prospective  out-of-state visitors  as                                                               
local advertising budgets are too small.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:46:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SANDRA  WHITE, Representative  for ATIA  and Talkeetna  Air Taxi,                                                               
testified in Juneau  and shared the history of  her family's long                                                               
involvement in  the tourism industry.  She is grateful to  have a                                                               
job  that  can not  only  support  her,  but is  challenging  and                                                               
enjoyable.  Tourism  provides  many employment  opportunities  to                                                               
Alaskans,   especially    youth.   The   State,    which   spends                                                               
approximately five or six million  dollars a year on marketing as                                                               
compared to  a $12.8 million  average in other  states, currently                                                               
ranks 38th out of 50.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  White   expressed  that,  unlike  cruise   ship  passengers,                                                               
independent visitors tend to visit  the State more than one time.                                                               
To emphasize  that point, she  noted that Alaska, at  30 percent,                                                               
has  one  of   the  highest  repeat  visitor   rates.  The  small                                                               
businesses  that comprise  the  majority of  the State's  tourism                                                               
industry cannot  promote the  State on  a national  level without                                                               
State funding  support. She urged  the Committee to fund  the two                                                               
requests  in support  of tourism  as it  is a  renewable resource                                                               
that promotes  economic diversity  and infuses  a huge  amount of                                                               
cash into the  State. Because the State's  marketing efforts have                                                               
been  researched and  honed,  the return  on  this investment  is                                                               
high.  She also  urged the  Committee to  support the  industry's                                                               
request  for  a  ten  percent  match  to  the  State  funding  as                                                               
otherwise, the industry would be in "big trouble".                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:50:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL  FELTHAUSER  testified  via teleconference  from  Mat-Su  in                                                               
support of  the $110,000 request  for special projects  grant for                                                               
the Alaska Center  for the Blind which would  provide visual aids                                                               
and training  for visually impaired  individuals in  rural areas.                                                               
The Lions Club  would be assisting in this  endeavor. The lighted                                                               
magnifier  glass provided  to him  by the  Center has  helped him                                                               
become more independent than ever before.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:52:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERN  HALTER,  Dream  a  Dream  Dog Farm  and  Dream  Inn  Bed  &                                                               
Breakfast  (B&B), testified  via teleconference  from Mat-Su  and                                                               
described his endeavors as being  "a true small family business".                                                               
Alaska has  tremendous tourism  competition, and  supporting ATIA                                                               
would be one of "the most  positive things" the State could do to                                                               
support the economy.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:54:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL METZNER testified  via teleconference from Mat  Su and spoke                                                               
in  support of  reinstating the  Senior Longevity  Bonus Program.                                                               
The elimination of  that program by the  Governor Frank Murkowski                                                               
administration  was  contrary  to  the  promise  to  the  State's                                                               
seniors  by  the  Alaska  Legislature.  Longevity  Bonus  Program                                                               
payments had  a direct influence on  program recipients' budgets.                                                               
For  example,  he and  his  wife  decided  to use  their  monthly                                                               
Longevity  payments to  support the  purchase of  a new  car. Now                                                               
they  are  burdened  with those  car  payment  obligations.  Many                                                               
seniors live  on fixed incomes and  the loss of this  program has                                                               
affected  their quality  of  life. Those  payments  also added  a                                                               
multiplier to  the economic  well-being of  the State  as seniors                                                               
spent that money locally.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:58:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  PETERSON,   Executive  Director,  Valdez   Convention  and                                                               
Visitors   Bureau,  testified   in  Juneau   on  behalf   of  the                                                               
organization's 175  members "that are directly  dependent" on the                                                               
visitors that  ATIA's marketing  efforts bring.  ATIA's marketing                                                               
campaigns  has also  generated "thousands  of  leads" for  Valdez                                                               
businesses. Additional  marketing money  is now required  to turn                                                               
around the current  decline in the State's ability  to compete as                                                               
a  travel  destination. The  money  reinvested  into the  visitor                                                               
industry marketing efforts would  improve the State's position in                                                               
the marketplace and would reap a ten to 100-fold return.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:00:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARIAN  ROMANO, Assistant  Mat-Su Borough  Manager, testified  in                                                               
Juneau  and   thanked  the   Committee  for   considering  Public                                                               
Employees  Retirement System  (PERS), Teachers  Retirement System                                                               
(TRS), and  revenue sharing funding  in the budget.  The Borough,                                                               
which is "the  fastest growing area in the State",  has been able                                                               
to provide  needed services despite  losing some  federal revenue                                                               
funding sources and  having to absorb cost increases.  It is very                                                               
"fugal with  the public's money",  and she assured  the Committee                                                               
that any  revenue sharing  funds provided by  the State  would be                                                               
used to reduce  citizens' property tax rates.  In conclusion, she                                                               
encouraged the  Committee to maintain  the proposed TRS  and PERS                                                               
employer  contribution  rates of  12.56  percent  and 22  percent                                                               
respectively.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:02:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATTI   MACKEY,  Executive   Director,  Ketchikan   Visitors  and                                                               
Convention  Bureau,  testified in  Juneau  in  support of  ATIA's                                                               
funding requests.  "Tourism is an all-encompassing  industry". It                                                               
enhances the  economic well-being of many  State tourism business                                                               
sectors,  from  transportation  to retail  to  accommodations  to                                                               
food. Those  businesses, in turn, support  other business sectors                                                               
including the  construction industry, professional  services such                                                               
as accountants,  and fuel  suppliers. This  is an  opportunity to                                                               
invest in  a renewable resource  that will benefit the  State for                                                               
years to come.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:04:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK MILLER, State Tourism Planner,  ATIA, testified in Juneau in                                                               
support  of   ATIA's  funding  requests.  The   tourism  industry                                                               
maintains the pristine  beauty of the State  while allowing small                                                               
businesses to  grow and prosper. A  [unspecified] report compiled                                                               
by   the  Department   of   Commerce,   Community  and   Economic                                                               
Development  indicates   that  the   taxes  generated   to  local                                                               
communities  by   tourism  are  substantial.  That   money  helps                                                               
communities  "sustain themselves"  year-round. He  encouraged the                                                               
Committee to fund ATIA at the  requested levels as it would allow                                                               
the State to compete with other markets.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:08:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NANCY  ST. JOHN-SMITH,  Medical Site  Manager, Cottonwood  Health                                                               
Center, testified via  teleconference from Kenai in  support of a                                                               
$2.3 million  appropriation request  for Alaska  community health                                                               
centers. These  centers provide health  care to  the underserved:                                                               
those who might lack transportation;  have low or no income; have                                                               
a mental  illness, no or  low insurance, or  seasonal employment.                                                               
In addition,  the centers have  recently experienced  an increase                                                               
in  people  on Medicare  as  a  result  of many  private  medical                                                               
practices curtailing  serving them due to  reductions in Medicare                                                               
reimbursements. She  recounted a recent encounter  with a patient                                                               
who praised  the caring  service he had  received at  the Center.                                                               
The  increasing demand  on  the centers  is  evidence that  their                                                               
services are necessary and increased funding is required.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:10:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELLEN ADLAN,  Chair, Board for Central  Peninsula Health Centers,                                                               
testified  via teleconference  from Kenai  and requested  support                                                               
for  the  $2.3  million  dollar   request  for  community  health                                                               
centers. Their services  fill a void for those  who cannot afford                                                               
health insurance or face other obstacles.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:12:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COLLEEN   STEPHENS,   Stan   Stephens  Cruises,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Valdez and attested to  the positive impacts                                                               
of tourism including  the job opportunities it  provides to local                                                               
youth. Even  though her family's  company spends  "a considerable                                                               
amount  of money"  on  marketing,  that effort  would  not be  as                                                               
successful  without ATIA's  marketing support.  Tourism generated                                                               
revenue benefits more than those  businesses directly involved in                                                               
it.  She urged  the Committee  to fully  fund the  ATIA marketing                                                               
requests  in  order to  promote  further  growth of  the  State's                                                               
economy.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:15:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STAN STEPHENS, Owner, Stan Stephens  Cruises, testified in Juneau                                                               
in support of  the $18 million and $8.5  million funding requests                                                               
for  ATIA.  The value  of  tourism  to  the  State is  often  not                                                               
recognized. It  is a big industry.  Additional funding assistance                                                               
is  required  in  order  for  the  industry  to  reach  its  full                                                               
potential.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:17:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVE  COBB, Business  Manager,  Valdez  Fisheries, testified  via                                                               
teleconference  from  Valdez  in  support  of  the  ATIA  funding                                                               
requests. A multitude of businesses  have been created because of                                                               
the tourism industry, but more  funding is required for the State                                                               
to  successfully compete  in  the global  tourism  market. It  is                                                               
difficult for small businesses to  market themselves to residents                                                               
of the State, much less to markets elsewhere.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:18:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN   GILPATRICK,   Small   Business   Owner,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from Valdez. The  hotel she owns directly benefits                                                               
from  tourism and  her other  business, a  greenhouse, indirectly                                                               
benefits from it. She urged  the Committee to support the funding                                                               
requests  for ATIA  as the  domino benefits  of tourism  are far-                                                               
reaching.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:19:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN DEVENS,  Owner, Lake  House Bed  & Breakfast,  testified via                                                               
teleconference from Valdez and spoke  to the benefits of tourism.                                                               
His business  and its support  industries were testaments  of the                                                               
huge pass-around  factor of  the money spent  by visitors  in the                                                               
State. Valdez is increasingly  becoming more economically reliant                                                               
on tourism as other employers  in the community, specifically the                                                               
Alyeska    Pipeline    Terminal,    reduce    their    employment                                                               
opportunities. The requests  for $18 million in  core funding for                                                               
ATIA and the $8.5 million  to support a marketing campaign geared                                                               
for  independent travelers  is  important to  the economic  well-                                                               
being of the State.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:21:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Lu ANECHIAERICO  testified via  teleconference from  Ketchikan in                                                               
support   of  the   Senate   Finance  Committee's   [unspecified]                                                               
subcommittee  funding recommendation  for  public radio.  "Public                                                               
radio  is an  important  source" for  local,  state and  national                                                               
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:22:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROY   ECKERT,   Ketchikan    Gateway   Borough,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Ketchikan in  appreciation of the  fact that                                                               
revenue  sharing   funding  was   reinstated  into   the  State's                                                               
operating  budget.  Many  communities in  Southeast  Alaska  have                                                               
experienced  economic   downturns,  and  without   State  revenue                                                               
sharing  assistance,  communities  would  be  required  to  raise                                                               
taxes, short-fund schools, and/or short-fund essential services.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:23:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN GADSEY, Southeast Alaska  Independent Living, testified via                                                               
teleconference  from  Ketchikan  in  support  of  increasing  the                                                               
budget for services for people  with disabilities by $100,000. He                                                               
also urged support for a  $100,000 request to provide interpreter                                                               
services for the  deaf. These funding requests  would improve the                                                               
lives  of people  with disabilities;  it would  empower them  and                                                               
allow them to contribute to society.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:26:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CATHY LECOMPTE, Campus Director,  University of Alaska Ketchikan,                                                               
testified  via  teleconference  from  Ketchikan  and  urged  full                                                               
support for  the operating budget  request for the  University of                                                               
Alaska. The Ketchikan campus, while  small, has a dedicated staff                                                               
who  desire to  contribute to  the workforce  development in  the                                                               
State. Increased  funding is required to  address increased fixed                                                               
costs the  University is experiencing. Without  adequate funding,                                                               
programs and staff would be  reduced. Small campus would feel the                                                               
affect more than larger ones.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:27:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KAREN  HARRIS,  Owner,  Alaska Garden  Gate  Bed  and  Breakfast,                                                               
testified via  teleconference from Mat-Su  in support of  the two                                                               
funding requests for ATIA.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:28:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KAREN  LAMBERT, Employee,  Alaska Legal  Services, testified  via                                                               
teleconference  from Kodiak  and urged  the Committee  to further                                                               
the  Committee's  [unspecified]  subcommittee  recommendation  to                                                               
provide $300,000  for legal  services for  low-income individuals                                                               
in  the  State; without  it,  society  should not  be  considered                                                               
"fulfilled".                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:29:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA   BOLSON,  Employee,   Kodiak   College,  testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Kodiak and urged  the Committee to  fund the                                                               
University of  Alaska "at  a level" that  would cover  fixed cost                                                               
increases and its workforce  development programs. The University                                                               
has  been  prohibited  by the  Legislature  from  using  internal                                                               
savings to address these issues.  She asked that consideration to                                                               
given  to  an  amendment  being  developed  by  Committee  member                                                               
Senator  Thomas  "that  would remedy  the  subcommittee's  poorly                                                               
advised actions" on the University's budget.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:30:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CAROLYN   FLOYD,   Mayor,   City   of   Kodiak,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Kodiak, in support of  funding the full-time                                                               
citizenship  assistance position  within the  Kodiak job  center.                                                               
She  attested   to  the  invaluable   service  provided   by  the                                                               
individual who currently  holds that position and  the benefit of                                                               
the program to the citizens of the community.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:30:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NITA  NICOLAS,  Kodiak  Barangay   Lions  and  Filipino  American                                                               
Community Association,  testified via teleconference  from Kodiak                                                               
and  urged  the  Committee  to fund  the  citizenship  assistance                                                               
position housed in the Kodiak job center.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:31:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[NOTE: FTR recording reestablished at this point.]                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JENNY  YORK,   Administrative  Assistant,  Aleutian   Campus  Tok                                                               
Center, University  of Alaska, testified via  teleconference from                                                               
Tok and  voiced appreciation for  the Committee's  difficult task                                                               
in managing the State's operating  budget and keeping the State's                                                               
spending  in   check.  She  urged  the   Committee  to  carefully                                                               
consideration a forthcoming amendment  that would be presented by                                                               
Senator Thomas  which would allow  the University to  address its                                                               
fixed costs increases.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. York  also asked the  Committee to reinstate the  funding for                                                               
the lone position in the  Tok employment office. While the office                                                               
is considered  "low volume" when  compared to Anchorage,  it does                                                               
provide a  vital service to  the area. Eliminating  this position                                                               
would  increase the  workload  in the  Anchorage  and Juneau  job                                                               
centers  and  would ultimately  require  them  to increase  their                                                               
staffing  levels.  Elimination  of this  position  would  further                                                               
"marginalize" rural towns.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:32:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT   WILKINSON,  Chief   Executive  Officer,   Copper  Valley                                                               
Electric   Association,   testified   via   teleconference   from                                                               
Glennallen, in support of reinstating  funding for the Glennallen                                                               
employment center.  "This one-person  office performs  many vital                                                               
services to the" numerous communities  in the Copper River basin.                                                               
One of the arguments in favor  of closing this office is that the                                                               
services provided by the office  were available via the internet.                                                               
That argument  is unjustified as  many of the  individuals living                                                               
in  the  large  rural  Copper River  basin  area  are  seasonally                                                               
employed  and   many  of  the   unemployed  live   a  subsistence                                                               
lifestyle. Few  have access to  computers and internet  access is                                                               
limited. Eliminating  the job center would  increase the regions'                                                               
employers'  job  recruitment  expenses  and  would  make  finding                                                               
employment more difficult for individuals.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:34:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PARK KRINER,  Small Business Owner, testified  via teleconference                                                               
from  Glennallen  and  urged  that  funding  for  the  Glennallen                                                               
employment center be restored. As  the owner of the Caribou Hotel                                                               
and  Restaurant,  the Glennallen  Chevron,  a  grocery store  and                                                               
several  apartments, he  hires  approximately  80 employees  each                                                               
spring.  Other times  of the  year, he  employs approximately  40                                                               
people.   The  professional   testing  and   employment  services                                                               
provided by  the employment center  are crucial to his  and other                                                               
communities' businesses.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Kriner stated  that closing  the office  would not  save the                                                               
State a significant  amount of money. He suggested  that money to                                                               
support the center  would be available were the  State to correct                                                               
inefficiencies and  over-staffing in  other State  operations. He                                                               
shared personal  experiences attesting  to the  inefficiencies of                                                               
other State operations.  Retention of the single  position in the                                                               
Glennallen employment center is urged.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:38:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDRE   HINES,   Crossroads   Medical   Center,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Glennallen in  support of  funding community                                                               
health centers  (CHCs) in the  State. Alaska is currently  one of                                                               
14 states that  do not fund such centers.  The Crossroads Medical                                                               
Center, which  is a small  facility, serves  an area the  size of                                                               
Ohio  and  includes  Glennallen,  the  Copper  River  Basin,  and                                                               
Gakona.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hines  shared that in addition  to serving as a  primary care                                                               
facility,  the Center  provides urgent  care service  24 hours  a                                                               
day,  seven days  a  week. It  also  provides pharmaceutical  and                                                               
laboratory  services,  behavioral  health,  school  health,  home                                                               
visits, and counseling.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hines communicated  that the Center has to  recruit and house                                                               
its medical staff. This has  been difficult. The doctor currently                                                               
serving  the Center  was hired  through a  temporary service  and                                                               
costs in  excess of $1,000  a day including salary,  housing, and                                                               
transportation. The  Center has been  unable to have  a permanent                                                               
physician on  staff for approximately  one and a half  years. The                                                               
current Physicians Assistant  (PA) on staff is  overworked; it is                                                               
feared  she will  leave if  not provided  additional help.  State                                                               
funding assistance  is required in  order for the Center  to hire                                                               
an adequate number of qualified staffers.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Hines  advised the  Committee  that  the range  of  critical                                                               
medical demands placed on an  Alaskan CHC exceeds those placed on                                                               
an urban  CHC, in  Chicago for  example, as  there are  no nearby                                                               
alternatives.  She also  noted that  were an  individual here  to                                                               
require up  to 72 hours of  care, the Center would  be reimbursed                                                               
the same  for that  service as  a facility  in Chicago  would for                                                               
only providing services for half an hour.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:41:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GILBERT  GUTIERREZ testified  via teleconference  from Glennallen                                                               
and  requested reinstatement  of the  funding for  the Glennallen                                                               
job service position.  The service is important to  the vast area                                                               
including  Glennallen,  Copper  River,  and  Kenny  Lake,  as  it                                                               
provides "a window"  for employment not only  for the unemployed,                                                               
but for employers.  The Center is the focal  point of opportunity                                                               
for  many training  programs conducted  in the  area. Absent  it,                                                               
residents of the  area would be forced the expense  of driving to                                                               
other  areas for  help.  In  addition, many  people  do not  have                                                               
access to  computers and rely  on the job service  for employment                                                               
notices. Shutting the employment  office would be discriminating;                                                               
"it  would treat  the area  differently by  denying services"  to                                                               
individuals in the area.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:44:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALAN  LEMASTER, Owner,  Gakona  Junction  Village, testified  via                                                               
teleconference  from Glennallen  in  support of  funding for  the                                                               
Glennallen employment  center. This  Center helps  employers stay                                                               
in  compliance of  ever-evolving employment  regulations. Closing                                                               
the center  would be  a disservice  to the  area; it  would force                                                               
4,000  Copper Valley  residents  to rely  on Anchorage  services.                                                               
Closing  this office  would not  save money;  the position  would                                                               
simply  be moved  to  Anchorage  or Fairbanks  and  the level  of                                                               
service  to   individuals  in  the   Glennallen  area   would  be                                                               
diminished.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:47:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEROME    SELBY,   Kodiak    Island   Borough,    testified   via                                                               
teleconference  from   Kodiak  and  thanked  the   Committee  for                                                               
reinstating  community revenue  sharing. History  will show  that                                                               
this  Legislature's financial  support for  communities was  more                                                               
important  than  the  financial   support  of  the  proposed  gas                                                               
pipeline project as,  without it, up to 100  small communities in                                                               
the  State  would disappear  before  the  pipeline project  began                                                               
operation.  Many communities  have already  had to  curtail basic                                                               
services. This funding is critical and appreciated.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Selby also urged that  funding for the citizenship assistance                                                               
position in Kodiak  be reinstated as that service  is critical to                                                               
the minority communities in the area.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:49:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN PAGE, Owner, Sunny Cove  Sea Kayaking Company, testified via                                                               
teleconference  from  Seward  in  support  of  the  ATIA  funding                                                               
requests. This should be considered  an investment in the State's                                                               
future. Other  parts of  the world have  come to  the realization                                                               
that this investment  "pays off". A quality  marketing program is                                                               
required for the State to stay competitive in the global market.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Page attested  to the decline over the past  few years in the                                                               
number of  independent travelers that many  small businesses rely                                                               
on. He  is not simply  requesting a  handout as the  State netted                                                               
$20  million in  tourism related  taxes  and fees  in 2005.  This                                                               
funding will  generate returns  to the State  as well  as helping                                                               
small companies like his grow and prosper.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:51:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE    CHURCH,   Small    Business   Owner,    testified   via                                                               
teleconference  from Ketchikan  and urged  for increased  tourism                                                               
funding to attract independent travelers.  In the past, the State                                                               
received  outside  marketing  support  such as  the  mystique  of                                                               
Alaska  featured  in  movies  or the  State  being  discussed  in                                                               
classrooms  "that  stimulated  desire   in  Americans  and  other                                                               
travelers to visit Alaska". Other  things that generated interest                                                               
in  the State  included  World  War II,  the  Homestead Act,  and                                                               
fishing and  timber businesses. The independent  travelers in the                                                               
1800 and  1900s also "played their  part in keeping the  dream of                                                               
wanting  to  visit  Alaska  alive  in the  hearts  and  minds  of                                                               
Americans who read  their writings, saw their  photos, and talked                                                               
to them upon their return."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Church  emphasized that  because of  these things,  the State                                                               
was  not  forced   to  market  itself  as   diligently  as  other                                                               
destinations were  required to. That  has changed, and  the State                                                               
was recently  preempted as  the number  one place  most Americans                                                               
wanted to  visit. While the  affordability of cruise  ship travel                                                               
has brought  a multitude of visitors  to the State over  the past                                                               
decade,  the  limited amount  of  time  spent  in each  port  has                                                               
lessened  the  fiscal  impact  their visit  has  on  local  small                                                               
businesses.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Church  also noted the  cruise ship passengers "go  away with                                                               
the  feeling that  I'll  seen  Alaska. Few  of  them have  really                                                               
experienced Alaska  and nothing is  being done to  encourage them                                                               
to return  on their own.  Local businesses benefit  when visitors                                                               
spend  three or  four  days in  an area.  "The  longer stay  also                                                               
allows the  visitor to form  a lasting impression that  they take                                                               
back home with them." They  are great ambassadors for publicizing                                                               
the  State. Research  also indicates  that when  a person  has an                                                               
extended  stay  in  the  State,  they are  likely  to  be  repeat                                                               
visitors.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Church  communicated that  while  many  Americans attest  to                                                               
having  more time  to travel  more  destinations with  aggressive                                                               
marketing  campaigns are  being offered  via such  things as  the                                                               
Internet.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Church advised  that the economy is also  working against the                                                               
State, as air  travel, ferry tickets, gas  prices, lodging, meals                                                               
and  entertainment costs  have increased  dramatically. This  has                                                               
forced people to take shorter  vacations and stay closer to home.                                                               
Thus,  the State  must "be  more  persuasive" in  its efforts  to                                                               
promote the State.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Church professed  that cruise  lines and  companies "are  so                                                               
successful  in packaging  tours  that [simply]  require a  credit                                                               
card number many  of today's tourists are reluctant  or unsure of                                                               
how to plan  an independent trip and what the  value of it really                                                               
is.  This  is  where  our  State marketing  efforts  need  to  be                                                               
focused. Two-thirds of the guests that  stay at my husband and my                                                               
bed and breakfast come from  outside the United States. Travelers                                                               
from other  countries seem to  be more  aware of the  benefits of                                                               
traveling on  their own by  air or by our  ferry when they  go on                                                               
vacations.  American travelers  need  to be  reintroduced to  the                                                               
value of  independent travel. This  can only happen if  the State                                                               
is  seriously  committed to  investing  in  a marketing  campaign                                                               
targeted at these independent travelers."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:56:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAM  FOREMAN,  Kodiak  Island  Convention  and  Visitors  Bureau,                                                               
testified in Juneau regarding the  importance of ATIA's marketing                                                               
dollars  to  a  small  community.  The  approximately  220  small                                                               
businesses members  of the Kodiak Convention  and Visitors Bureau                                                               
depend  on the  Bureau to  market  Kodiak as  a destination;  the                                                               
Bureau  in  turn  depends  on   the  State's  marketing  program,                                                               
operated by ATIA, "to help it market to the world".                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Foreman  declared that  the impact  of ATIA's  advertising is                                                               
much  larger  than the  reach  afforded  by a  small  community's                                                               
budget. She  urged the  Committee to fully  fund the  $18 million                                                               
being requested to support ATIA's  core marketing program and the                                                               
$8.5  million being  requested to  attract independent  visitors.                                                               
Independent  visitors are  of  particular  importance to  Kodiak.                                                               
This investment would contribute  to the economies of communities                                                               
and to the State.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 5:58:30 PM / 6:12:46 PM                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SHELLEY  HUGHES, Governmental  Affairs  Director, Alaska  Primary                                                               
Care  Association, testified  via teleconference  from Mat-Su  in                                                               
support  of the  $2.3  million  funding request  for  CHCs. As  a                                                               
fiscal conservative,  her support  for this  funding is  not done                                                               
lightly.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hughes testified as follows.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Community  health centers  are based  on efficient  business                                                               
     models and what  they are able to accomplish on  a dollar is                                                               
     simply  amazing.  It's  important   for  you  to  know  that                                                               
     community health  centers are already  saving the  State $10                                                               
     million in State Medicaid dollars.  How and why? Because the                                                               
     Medicaid patients  that uses the community  health center as                                                               
     his  or  her medical  home  costs  30  percent less  than  a                                                               
     Medicaid patient seen elsewhere.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Here's  a   quick  example.   A  particular   diabetic  test                                                               
     performed at the community health  center in Wasilla is less                                                               
     than $50. That same test  performed at the local hospital is                                                               
     over $200. Here's another. A  patient in a rural area avoids                                                               
     the  hospitalization  because  of  community  health  center                                                               
     services and  saves Medicaid tens  of thousands  of dollars.                                                               
     With  State  funding  to  strengthen  and  expand  community                                                               
     health  centers,  the  State   would  realize  even  greater                                                               
     savings to Medicaid.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Just  by re-directing  4,000  Medicaid  patients across  our                                                               
     State  to  use community  health  centers  as their  medical                                                               
     home, the  savings right  there would  be over  two million.                                                               
     And avoiding  4,000 inappropriate  emergency room  visits to                                                               
    community health centers would save another two million.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Waiting another year for the  health care strategy council's                                                               
     recommendation  or   for  Medicaid  reform   legislation  to                                                               
     include funding will put off  these savings to the State for                                                               
     another year.  The wise things to  do would be to  invest in                                                               
     the  community health  centers now.  They need  your support                                                               
     urgently  as they've  experienced ten  percent increases  in                                                               
     operational  expenses, flat  federal funding,  and increased                                                               
     patient loads.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     You should  also know that  we have a number  of communities                                                               
     in  Alaska  that  have  been   denied  the  federal  funding                                                               
     repeatedly. The State must step up  and do its part if we're                                                               
     to  expect federal  funds for  these communities.  This will                                                               
     take boldness  on your part  as the item  is not yet  in the                                                               
     budget but  I know that each  of you have that  trait or you                                                               
     wouldn't be sitting where you are today.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I ask,  respectfully, that you  please do the right  and the                                                               
     wise thing. Please add a budget  amendment to HB 95 for $2.3                                                               
     million for  community health  centers. Thank  you honorable                                                               
     co-chairs  and   Committee  members  for   your  outstanding                                                               
     service for  all us  here in Alaska  and especially  at this                                                               
     late hour  for your  time and  consideration of  this issue.                                                               
     May you all have an excellent evening.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
6:16:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  further testifiers,  Co-Chair  Hoffman  thanked                                                               
those  who  testified on  the  bills  and announced  that  public                                                               
testimony  was  now closed.  Further  action  on these  bills  is                                                               
anticipated to occur on Thursday or Friday of this week.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The bills were HELD in Committee.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                

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