Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/12/1993 02:23 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 180 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION DEBT REIMBURSEMENT), SB 181 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION GRANTS) and SJR 30 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE FUND) as the next order of business. BOB POE, staff to Senator Drue Pearce, Co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said the three pieces of legislation comprise a complete package of an approach to deal with the problems of school construction, school repair and school maintenance in the state. SB 180 reestablishes reimbursement of school construction debt and provides for an effective date. It accomplishes some key things in terms of reimbursement of debt that have not been seen in the past. It changes the portion that the state would pay of any debt to 70 percent. Also, it establishes a debt limit for how much debt a community could incur. Further, it places a sunset on the bill of March 31, 1997. SB 181 relates to grants for school construction, and there are some key changes to the way school construction projects are identified right now. It sets a grant review committee, and the committee is designed to make sure that people knowledgeable about construction and facility management are involved in reviewing school construction projects to assure that they are a cost-effective reasonable solution to the problem that the school project is trying to address. It also advises the committee that they shall evaluate each grant request based on five factors. The bill further provides that there shall be four basic types of school designs to assure that the school infrastructure that is built through state dollars around the state is uniform in its quality, that it guarantees an equivalent kind of facility for any student in the state. Number 198 SENATOR LEMAN directed attention to a letter he received from an Anchorage engineer suggesting an amendment to Section 4, which relates to the four basic school designs, that he believes goes directly to the point of the intent of the legislation, but is less onerous than the existing wording. Number 212 CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to page 3, line 2 of SB 181, which speaks to the factors that the grant review committee must evaluate. He said the last time a list like that was put in statute it was interpreted to mean that all of number one would have to be satisfied before they commenced with number two. He said he does not think that was the sponsor's intent, and suggested that it should be reworded. BOB POE agreed that was not the sponsor's intent. Number 230 DUANE GUILEY, Department of Education, stated that the department has reviewed the two bills and has worked together with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities in developing the fiscal note and analyzing the legislation. The department has some concerns about the bills in that some specific portions are not clear to them as to what the intent is. Mr. Guiley said in establishing the cap in SB 180 on how much debt a community can incur, the department reads the cap as to apply to other nonreimbursed debt. He referred to language on page 4, line 5, which sets the limit based upon population size, and he pointed out that some of the smallest communities in the state are, in fact, the wealthiest communities in the state in relation to ability to pay, and they have the lowest limit of debt in this language. In Section 3 of SB 180, which requires the department to evaluate the projects, the department has some concern as to whether or not that evaluation would be concurrent with the existing process evaluation, or if this would establish a separate evaluation. Turning to SB 181 and the establishing of a grant review committee, Mr. Guiley said the department has concern as to whether or not they can find members of this background in the state that do not, in fact, have a conflict of interest in that they are not participating contractors for school districts that would be scheduled to be applying for projects, as well as whether or not the individuals would serve on the committee at no compensation. Addressing the prototypical type of school design required in the legislation, the department looked at grant projects that have been recently awarded by the state and the architectural fees associated with those projects, as well as the need for schools of varying sizes at all three levels, and they arrived at a fiscal note in excess of $30 million. Number 267 CHAIRMAN RIEGER questioned the architectural fees if what is being called for in the bill is generic projects rather than custom projects. DUANE GUILEY answered that it is the department's understanding that these would be more or less generic projects within the different regions of the state, but also, within those different regions, there would be facilities of varying sizes. SENATOR LEMAN commented that there are some things that can't be done generically and they have to be unique for where that building is located. He said there is going to be a certain amount of design that is going to have to be custom for any specific site.