Legislature(2019 - 2020)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/10/2019 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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01:33:26 PM Start
01:33:43 PM SJR9
03:00:46 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        SJR 9-CONST.AM: APPROP. BILL FOR PUBL EDUCATION                                                                     
1:33:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
SENATE  JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO. 9,  Proposing  amendments  to  the                                                               
Constitution of the State of  Alaska relating to an appropriation                                                               
bill  funding public  education for  grades kindergarten  through                                                               
1:34:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MIA  COSTELLO,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  Juneau,  as                                                               
sponsor   of  SJR   9,   stated  that   this   resolution  is   a                                                               
constitutional Amendment  that would fund education  early during                                                               
the legislative  session. She  paraphrased the  following sponsor                                                               
     State   statute,  AS   14.14.060(c),  requires   school                                                                    
     districts  to submit  their funding  requests to  their                                                                    
     municipal  governments by  May 1st.  However, municipal                                                                    
     ordinances vary  in the date in  which school districts                                                                    
     must submit  a budget,  varying from  March 1  to early                                                                    
     May.  Typically, the  Legislature passes  the operating                                                                    
     budget,  containing K-12  funding,  anywhere from  mid-                                                                    
     April to  late May. The  passage of the budget  at such                                                                    
     late dates  causes uncertainty for school  districts as                                                                    
     they  develop their  budgets. In  most instances,  this                                                                    
     uncertainty forces  school districts  to have  to issue                                                                    
     pink  slips  to educators  then  rehire  them once  the                                                                    
     educational  funding is  finalized by  the Legislature.                                                                    
     Not   only   are   the   school   districts   impacted,                                                                    
     municipalities  and  local  government  officials  also                                                                    
     bear the  brunt of this uncertainty  when attempting to                                                                    
     develop their budgets.                                                                                                     
     Senate Joint  Resolution 9, would require,  if approved                                                                    
     by  the   Legislature  and   the  voters,   a  separate                                                                    
     appropriation bill funding K-12  education to be passed                                                                    
     by the  45th day of  each regular session.  This change                                                                    
     occurs  within  Article 9,  Section  12  of the  Alaska                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO identified one  of the problems Alaska currently                                                               
has is  the churning of  talented teachers  who come to  teach in                                                               
schools, but within the first year they are given pink slips.                                                                   
1:35:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO explained  that SJR 9 could save  $20 million by                                                               
funding education earlier in the  year. This figure also includes                                                               
the  school districts'  costs to  train teachers.  She said  that                                                               
rural   districts  have   reported   that   losing  teachers   is                                                               
significant for  students because  teachers are coming  and going                                                               
each year. The  legislature has a role to  create more stability,                                                               
she said.  The testimony  given by teachers  at a  hearing before                                                               
the  Senate Education  Standing Committee  related that  teachers                                                               
are hired, work one year, then  they receive pink slips, and must                                                               
move.  This resolution  would pass  the education  funding within                                                               
the first  45 days of  the legislative session. However,  it does                                                               
not set a certain level of funding for education.                                                                               
1:37:25 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM   WRIGHT,  Staff,   Senator   Mia   Costello,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  referred to  a legal memo  from Legislative                                                               
Legal Services in members' packets  that discusses the reason the                                                               
sponsor  chose to  introduce  a  constitutional amendment  rather                                                               
than a statute change.                                                                                                          
MR. WRIGHT  said that some  efforts have previously been  made to                                                               
address  education funding.  He  referred to  a  memo from  Meera                                                               
Caouette, Legislative  Legal Services,  dated February  19, 2019,                                                               
that   indicates  legislative   entrenchment,   or  binding   one                                                               
legislature to another,  is prohibited by the  U.S. Supreme Court                                                               
and  the   Alaska  Supreme   Court  (ASC).   This  constitutional                                                               
amendment was drafted  as a result. He has  also researched early                                                               
educational funding and although  many bills have been introduced                                                               
none were successful.                                                                                                           
MR.   WRIGHT  said   that  SJR   9  would   require  a   separate                                                               
appropriation  bill  to  fund K-12  public  education.  It  would                                                               
require  the  legislature  to  pass  an  appropriation  bill  and                                                               
transmit  it to  the governor  by the  45th day  of each  regular                                                               
legislative session.  Currently, school districts by  statute are                                                               
required to submit their budgets  to municipal governments by May                                                               
1,  although the  dates vary  from March  1 to  sometime in  May,                                                               
depending  on   the  municipal  ordinance.   He  said   that  the                                                               
legislature typically passes its  operating budget from mid-April                                                               
to late May.  However, passage of the operating  budget after May                                                               
1  would create  uncertainty for  school districts  and also  for                                                               
municipalities.  This  uncertainty  forces  school  districts  to                                                               
issue  pink  slips to  tenured  teachers  if  the budget  is  not                                                               
finalized by May  15 and non-tenured pink slips on  or before the                                                               
last day of  school per AS 14.21.040. An Institute  of Social and                                                               
Economic   Research  (ISER)   study  shows   the  turnover   rate                                                               
throughout  communities  in  Alaska. This  study  quantifies  the                                                               
turnover  rate   for  rural  areas   at  over  30   percent,  hub                                                               
communities  at 22  percent, and  more populated  areas at  14-16                                                               
He  said  that the  Institute  of  Social and  Economic  Research                                                               
report   indicates   high    teacher   turnover   hurts   student                                                               
achievement. The latest figures  from the NEA [National Education                                                               
Association] indicated  that of the approximately  8,900 teachers                                                               
in  the  state, turnover  was  approximately  1,000 teachers  per                                                               
year. The  cost to  train teachers  is approximately  $20,000 per                                                               
teacher or $20 million per year.                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT  said that SJR 9  would also solve uncertainty  in the                                                               
municipal  budget process.  He  referenced  numerous e-mails  and                                                               
letters of support in members'  packets from school districts and                                                               
organizations,   including   the   Alaska   Council   of   School                                                               
Administrators,  the Association  of  Alaska  School Boards,  and                                                               
NEA.  Passage of  SJR  9 would  also help  alleviate  any end  of                                                               
session negotiations, he said.                                                                                                  
1:42:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  asked for further  clarification how  many teachers                                                               
are in Alaska.                                                                                                                  
MR. WRIGHT answered 8,900.                                                                                                      
CHAIR HUGHES  related her understanding  that turnover  rates can                                                               
be  as high  as 100  percent turnover  or even  higher in  school                                                               
districts if a teacher does not  stay for the full academic year.                                                               
She  referred to  page  2 of  the  Legislative Research  Services                                                               
paper  dated March  11, 2019,  by Chuck  Burnham, Manager,  which                                                               
asked, "Do  any states  have constitutional  provisions requiring                                                               
the passage of  state K-12 funding measures by  a specific date?"                                                               
The agency's  response was, "We  located no  state constitutional                                                               
provisions that  require school districts  to submit a  budget to                                                               
local governments by  a certain date." She recalled  that she may                                                               
have  been the  one who  asked that  question. However,  what she                                                               
really would like to know is  whether any states have adopted any                                                               
constitutional  provisions,  such  as  this  one,  requiring  the                                                               
legislature to pass K-12 funding by a certain date.                                                                             
MR.  WRIGHT answered  that he  also  posed that  question to  the                                                               
Legislative  Research Services.  The  agency could  not find  any                                                               
other states that had that requirement.                                                                                         
CHAIR HUGHES  wondered if  other states have  the same  pink slip                                                               
problem or how they have avoided it.                                                                                            
MR. WRIGHT said he did not know.                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES  said that the  representatives from  the Department                                                               
of Education  and Early Development  (DEED) in the  audience were                                                               
nodding their  heads no. She  commented that it would  be helpful                                                               
to find out how other states have addressed this issue.                                                                         
1:44:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD  remarked  that  she abhors  how  teachers  are                                                               
"politicized." She recalled that she  offered an amendment on the                                                               
House floor several years ago  to the operating budget that would                                                               
have  prioritized teacher  layoffs  and cuts  last. However,  the                                                               
floor  amendment did  not pass,  although  it failed  by a  small                                                               
margin.  She  asked whether  local  school  boards can  currently                                                               
prioritize teacher [layoffs].                                                                                                   
MR.   WRIGHT   deferred  to   the   Alaska   Council  of   School                                                               
Administrators or the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                      
SENATOR   REINBOLD   expressed    concern   that   constitutional                                                               
amendments could  take years to  approve. She offered  her belief                                                               
that funding for  teachers should have priority  and an amendment                                                               
to the budget is needed.                                                                                                        
MR. WRIGHT related  that the sponsor considered a  number of ways                                                               
to address this issue. He offered  his belief that the problem is                                                               
related to state and municipal  funding. It would not address the                                                               
issue if  the state held teachers  until July and then  gave them                                                               
pink slips.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR REINBOLD  asked whether teacher's contracts  require them                                                               
to be notified.                                                                                                                 
MR.  WRIGHT   referred  again  to  the   statutory  language  for                                                               
notification of non-tenured and tenured teachers.                                                                               
SENATOR  REINBOLD  related her  understanding  that  it would  be                                                               
possible to address prioritizing teacher layoffs by statute.                                                                    
MR. WRIGHT  agreed it is  possible, but the issue  was predicated                                                               
on funding.  At some point,  teachers need  to know if  they have                                                               
jobs, so they can  look for other jobs in Alaska  or out of state                                                               
if they receive pink slips.                                                                                                     
1:48:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL reiterated that May  15 is the statutorily required                                                               
date for  tenured teachers to  receive layoff notices.  He agreed                                                               
that   teachers   must  be   given   time   to  seek   employment                                                               
opportunities if the state is  not going to fund their positions.                                                               
He remarked  that he likes the  concept of SJR 9.  He related his                                                               
understanding that the legislature must  pass a bill by the first                                                               
week of March.                                                                                                                  
MR. WRIGHT agreed.                                                                                                              
1:49:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL  recalled  that municipal  school  districts  must                                                               
submit their  budgets to the  assemblies by  May 1. He  asked how                                                               
the  process  would  work  during  the  two  months  between  the                                                               
legislature   finishing   its   funding  and   school   districts                                                               
submitting their budgets to the municipal assembly.                                                                             
MR. WRIGHT deferred to Dr. Parady.  He said that the deadlines to                                                               
submit  school district  budgets to  municipalities vary  between                                                               
districts.  For example,  the deadline  in Juneau  is April  5th,                                                               
Anchorage is  the first Monday in  March, the Mat-Su is  the last                                                               
Tuesday in March, he said.                                                                                                      
1:50:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  asked whether  it would be  more efficient  if the                                                               
funding was advance funding for  one year ahead rather than early                                                               
in  the   legislative  session  to  give   school  districts  and                                                               
municipalities some additional planning time.                                                                                   
SENATOR COSTELLO  responded that the timing  of education funding                                                               
across the legislative narrative has  depended on the priority of                                                               
the individual legislature. She  pointed out that the legislature                                                               
forward funded education this year and yet issues still exist.                                                                  
1:51:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER joined the meeting.                                                                                              
1:51:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO pointed  out that  although she  has previously                                                               
supported  forward funding  for education,  it would  not address                                                               
the  delay  in  funding  that  districts  experience.  Typically,                                                               
education funding is either fully  funded or the legislature adds                                                               
funding. However, putting  an end to the havoc in  the schools is                                                               
more valuable  than any last-minute negotiations  that might take                                                               
place. She  reiterated that SJR 9  would not affect the  level of                                                               
funding but only the timing.                                                                                                    
1:52:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES expressed  concern about  a separate  appropriation                                                               
bill solely  for education since  the state must fund  many other                                                               
important functions, including public  safety. This committee has                                                               
spent significant time  on how to reduce crimes in  Alaska and to                                                               
ensure  that law  enforcement, prosecutors,  and the  courts have                                                               
adequate tools.  The state  is currently  experiencing a  time of                                                               
limited revenues, she said.                                                                                                     
1:53:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE joined the meeting.                                                                                            
1:53:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  said if this  proposal were in the  Constitution of                                                               
the State of Alaska that  she could support forward funding since                                                               
it would  not entrench future  legislatures. It would be  part of                                                               
the  whole process  to ensure  adequate funds  are available  for                                                               
public  safety,  and road  maintenance.  It  would eliminate  the                                                               
problem  because the  schools would  know the  funding a  year in                                                               
advance.  The  trick  would  be the  transition  since  it  would                                                               
require  funding two  years  of education  in  one budget  cycle.                                                               
However, she could still support  that because it would take into                                                               
consideration all of the different  obligations of the state. She                                                               
suggested  that the  legislature  might  fund things  differently                                                               
when all things are considered together.                                                                                        
SENATOR COSTELLO pointed  out that SJR 9 only  pertained to early                                                               
funding.  She acknowledged  the point  that the  state has  other                                                               
important responsibilities, so she would  not be averse to having                                                               
the entire budget passed in the  first 45 days of the legislative                                                               
session. Nor would she object to  a biennial budget, in which the                                                               
legislature   funds  government   in  one   year  and   works  on                                                               
legislation the next, she said.                                                                                                 
She  pointed  out one  difference  is  that police  officers  and                                                               
troopers are not "pink slipped."  One of the things the committee                                                               
will find,  based on the  testimony presented today, is  that the                                                               
delay in  education funding  is damaging  and devastating  to the                                                               
state. In order  to improve student results  in Alaska's schools,                                                               
schools must have qualified, dedicated,  and prepared teachers in                                                               
front of  the students.  This is  one of  the main  indicators of                                                               
success  for students,  she said.  Essentially, the  state allows                                                               
1,000  professionals to  leave school  districts,  she said.  She                                                               
said that she speaks from the  perspective of a parent, a product                                                               
of the  Anchorage School  District, and as  a former  teacher who                                                               
taught in  three school districts.  Further, she also  has family                                                               
members who are in classrooms.                                                                                                  
She said she shares Senator  Reinbold's frustration with teachers                                                               
receiving pink  slips. She has previously  introduced legislation                                                               
to  address   this  issue,  but   the  bill  did  not   pass  the                                                               
legislature.  The state  continues to  work to  improve classroom                                                               
results,  so it  would  behoove the  legislature  to address  the                                                               
timing  of the  education budget.  That budget  timing alone  has                                                               
created  tremendous issues  for school  districts. In  fact, many                                                               
school  districts prepare  three budgets,  one for  full funding,                                                               
one for  additional funding, and  one for reduced  funding, which                                                               
means the districts are essentially  writing budgets in the dark.                                                               
Further,  teacher  dissatisfaction  is significant.  She  related                                                               
that  her  sister-in-law was  a  first-year  teacher in  a  rural                                                               
community who received  a pink slip. She wondered if  she was let                                                               
go because  she was  not a  good teacher. She  said she  told her                                                               
that the reason  she was pink slipped is that  is what happens in                                                               
SENATOR  COSTELLO  stated that  she  initially  had considered  a                                                               
statutory remedy  since passing  a constitutional amendment  is a                                                               
higher  bar.  She reiterated  the  vicious  cycle that  puts  the                                                               
districts  on  hold when  teachers  are  given pink  slips,  that                                                               
teachers take other jobs. At  that point the hiring pool changes,                                                               
she  said.  This  resolution  would  highlight  the  question  of                                                               
whether it is worth creating the adverse childhood experiences.                                                                 
1:59:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL emphasized the  importance of stabilizing education                                                               
funding and making it predictable.  He asked for clarification on                                                               
how  SJR 9  would interact  with  the confinement  clause of  the                                                               
Constitution of the  State of Alaska. He wondered if  it would be                                                               
confined to  education or if  it could have  other appropriations                                                               
such as  the supplemental funding  for education. He  wondered if                                                               
the  legislature could  provide  early baseline  funding and  add                                                               
additional funding later or if  this resolution would require all                                                               
of the education funding be passed at 45 days.                                                                                  
SENATOR COSTELLO  answered that SJR  9 would not expand  to other                                                               
issues. She  offered her belief  it would be possible  to provide                                                               
early funding  and subsequently add  funding later.  However, she                                                               
deferred to Legislative Legal Services to respond.                                                                              
2:00:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  related his understanding that  this resolution                                                               
would  require transmitting  an education  appropriation bill  to                                                               
the  governor by  the 45th  day  of the  legislative session.  He                                                               
wondered  if  the  sponsor has  considered  other  mechanics  for                                                               
passage  of  the  bill.  He could  envision  some  funding  being                                                               
redlined and perhaps  a veto override process  that might stretch                                                               
beyond 90 days.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR COSTELLO  answered that this resolution  would not change                                                               
the governor's  power to veto  or the ability of  the legislature                                                               
to override  the governor's vetoes.  She maintained  her interest                                                               
in starting the discussion earlier in the legislative session.                                                                  
2:02:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER said he understands  part of the problem that [SJR                                                               
9] would  address is  the wild spending  swings in  education. In                                                               
reviewing   the  broader   scope,   he   acknowledged  that   the                                                               
legislature has  also been considering a  suite of constitutional                                                               
amendments,  including   SJR  6,  to  address   a  constitutional                                                               
spending  limit. He  wondered if  constitutional  changes to  the                                                               
permanent  fund structure  this  year were  to  pass, whether  it                                                               
would provide  the necessary  stability for  educational funding.                                                               
If so, SJR 9 might not be  needed, he said. He wondered if deeper                                                               
structural problems may  exist that are causing pink  slips to be                                                               
issued, which causes a reaction.                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  responded that  she participated in  the Senate                                                               
Finance Committee  when the Percent  of Market  Value legislation                                                               
was heard.  That bill  passed the  legislature and  established a                                                               
structured  draw designed  to assure  that  savings grow  without                                                               
spending more than the state  earns, which she supports. Instead,                                                               
this is a  timing issue, she said. She did  not believe that this                                                               
approach would  address this issue.  The timing issue  has fiscal                                                               
impacts,   whereas  the   other   issues  do   not  have   fiscal                                                               
ramifications that  require laying people  off due to  the timing                                                               
of the bill, she said.                                                                                                          
2:04:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER  said he  was  contemplating  the effect  of  the                                                               
legislature being held  to a 90-day session.  However, he decided                                                               
to further contemplate the timing issue.                                                                                        
CHAIR  HUGHES suggested  that the  legislature  could convene  in                                                               
November and  take a Christmas  break and pass the  entire budget                                                               
CHAIR  HUGHES  said she  liked  the  idea  of a  biennial  budget                                                               
process  for  advance planning.  She  reiterated  her request  to                                                               
determine if  other states have  the same timing problem,  and if                                                               
not,  how they  avoid  educational funding  issues. Further,  she                                                               
asked  the sponsor  to consider  a  constitutional amendment  for                                                               
forward funding, so education could  be part of the entire budget                                                               
process. For example,  if such a change were in  place this year,                                                               
the legislature  would consider  the FY  2020 funding  for public                                                               
safety  and  transportation  along   with  all  the  other  state                                                               
responsibilities.  At  the  same   time,  the  legislature  would                                                               
consider  education funding  for  FY 2021,  she  said. She  asked                                                               
whether the sponsor  would consider this proposal in  lieu of SJR                                                               
9.  She  expressed concerned  about  teasing  this out  when  the                                                               
legislature does not know its other obligations.                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO  added  that the  budgetary  questions  do  not                                                               
change between  the 45th, the  90th, or  the 120th day.  She said                                                               
that  SJR  9  would  move  the funding  decision  to  an  earlier                                                               
timeframe. As far  as being open to changing the  language in the                                                               
resolution, it is up to the  will of the committee, she said. She                                                               
expressed a  willingness to  hold discussions  on other  ideas to                                                               
address the issue.                                                                                                              
MR. WRIGHT said that even  if the legislature prepared a biennial                                                               
budget,  the  first  year  would  still  have  uncertainty  about                                                               
CHAIR HUGHES  explained that her suggestion  is to put it  in the                                                               
Constitution  of the  State  of  Alaska so  that  every year  the                                                               
legislative budget process would be working one year ahead.                                                                     
MR. WRIGHT acknowledged her suggestion.  His point was related to                                                               
the earlier discussion of potential  issues for education funding                                                               
in a biennial budget process.                                                                                                   
2:09:43 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM MILKS,  Attorney, Labor & State  Affairs, Civil Division,                                                               
Department  of Law,  Juneau, related  his understanding  that the                                                               
question  is  whether this  is  appropriate  as a  constitutional                                                               
amendment.  Other constitutional  amendments  have been  proposed                                                               
this legislative session. One question  that arises is whether it                                                               
is appropriate to change the  Constitution of the State of Alaska                                                               
by  a  resolution,   an  amendment,  or  if  the   change  is  so                                                               
substantial  it would  be  considered a  revision  by the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme Court and require a constitutional convention.                                                                          
MR. MILKS  stated that the Department  of Law has reviewed  SJR 9                                                               
and believes it  is appropriate. As the sponsor  described SJR 9,                                                               
it  would amend  Article  IX,  Section 12,  which  is the  budget                                                               
provision of the Constitution of  the State of Alaska, to provide                                                               
for  a  separate appropriation  bill  for  education. It  further                                                               
would  provide  a timeline  for  the  legislature to  enact  that                                                               
resolution. He reiterated  that in the Department  of Law's view,                                                               
SJR 9 would  not propose a sweeping change  in the constitutional                                                               
framework that would trigger a revision.                                                                                        
2:11:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked whether  it would be  viewed in  the same                                                               
way if a year of forward funding was included in the resolution.                                                                
MR. MILKS answered that the  department limited its review to SJR                                                               
9,  so if  SJR 9  were to  change, the  department would  need to                                                               
consider the specific  language and facts. He  clarified that the                                                               
budget  article  in  the  Constitution of  the  State  of  Alaska                                                               
already  requires an  appropriation  for  general spending.  This                                                               
resolution would  add a second  one for the subset  of education,                                                               
he said.                                                                                                                        
CHAIR  HUGHES  requested  that the  Department  of  Law  consider                                                               
whether forward  funding education would pose  any constitutional                                                               
2:12:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL expressed his concern  about the confinement clause                                                               
and asked whether SJR 9 posed any issues.                                                                                       
MR.  MILKS responded  that  SJR 9,  as  currently drafted,  would                                                               
require   an  additional   appropriation  bill   each  year   for                                                               
education.  However, it  would  not change  the  powers of  other                                                               
branches of  government. It  would also  provide a  timeframe. He                                                               
concluded that  it seemed to  meet the Bess  v. Ulmer test  as an                                                               
appropriate  amendment  to  the  Constitution  of  the  State  of                                                               
Alaska, he said.                                                                                                                
2:13:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE  recalled  last  year a  forward  funding  bill                                                               
passed the legislature.  The Constitution of the  State of Alaska                                                               
talks about the  appropriation power of the  legislature, that it                                                               
cannot  be bound  by future  legislatures. However,  it does  not                                                               
speak to  the appropriation power  of the governor. He  said that                                                               
the  legislature  can   change  any  bill  at   will,  so  future                                                               
legislatures would  not be  bound. He  expressed interest  in the                                                               
Department of  Law's interpretation on whether  that would change                                                               
if the provision were in the  Constitution of the State of Alaska                                                               
instead  of  in  statute.  It  is   one  reason  why  it  may  be                                                               
problematic to put forward funding in the constitution, he said.                                                                
MR. MILKS  agreed to do so.  He recapped the questions,  that the                                                               
sponsor  described [SJR  9] as  not affecting  other constitution                                                               
powers.  Second, he  was interested  in  whether forward  funding                                                               
would cause any other constitutional issues.                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES asked whether the administration supports SJR 9.                                                                   
MR. MILKS responded that he cannot speak to that.                                                                               
2:16:18 PM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive  Director, Alaska Council of                                                               
School  Administrators   (ACSA),  Juneau,  said  that   the  ACSA                                                               
represents  the Alaska  Superintendents  Association, the  Alaska                                                               
Association   of  Elementary   School   Principals,  the   Alaska                                                               
Association  of  Secondary  School  Principals,  and  the  Alaska                                                               
Association  of   School  Business  Officials,  and   all  school                                                               
administrators. She said that the  ACSA supports SJR 9 because it                                                               
would result in early funding notification for K-12 education.                                                                  
MS. PARADY said that the  Alaska Council of School Administrators                                                               
(ACSA) undertakes a several month  process to identify key policy                                                               
positions for  the legislature's consideration.  The organization                                                               
prepares joint positions  to inform the legislature  on issues it                                                               
believes are  the most  important ones in  education. Two  of the                                                               
highest  ranked position  statements are,  first, that  the state                                                               
provides timely,  reliable, and predictable revenue  for schools,                                                               
funding the  true cost  of education in  all districts.  The ACSA                                                               
would  like   the  legislature  to   provide  full   funding  for                                                               
initiatives,   laws,  and   mandates   that  require   additional                                                               
services.  Early  notification of  funding  is  crucial to  sound                                                               
financial  management as  well as  recruitment  and retention  of                                                               
quality educators.                                                                                                              
She said that the second  ACSA priority is preparing, attracting,                                                               
and  retaining  qualified  educators.  She  said  that  retaining                                                               
effective  educators   and  leaders   is  essential   to  closing                                                               
achievement  gaps  and  increasing  student  performance  in  all                                                               
subjects  across all  grade  levels. She  indicated  that of  the                                                               
myriad of issues  in education, those two issues rise  to the top                                                               
as priorities for the ACSA.                                                                                                     
DR.  PARADY  acknowledged that  the  sponsors,  the members,  and                                                               
educators must collectively  be focused on those  two issues. She                                                               
said that  the ACSA is focused  on stability. The state  faces an                                                               
education shortage in Alaska that  has not previously occurred in                                                               
the  history of  Alaska. The  national education  shortage is  as                                                               
prevalent.  She said  the ACSA  had  a robust  discussion in  the                                                               
Senate  Education   Standing  Committee  about   whether  teacher                                                               
shortages  are happening  in the  Lower 48  or if  this issue  is                                                               
confined to Alaska.  She confirmed that it is  a national crisis.                                                               
Typically,  Alaska's  position  is  worsened  because  the  state                                                               
relies so heavily on recruiting  educators from the Lower 48, she                                                               
She  provided some  figures, including  that currently  the state                                                               
has  a  25  percent  teacher  turnover  rate  and  a  26  percent                                                               
principal turnover rate  throughout Alaska, but it  is highest in                                                               
rural areas.  In fact, it  can reach 100 percent  staff turnover.                                                               
As  previously  stated, student  achievement  is  tied to  having                                                               
quality teachers  in the classroom, followed  by having principal                                                               
continuity.  This  highlights  the  need  for  the  state  to  do                                                               
whatever it can to stabilize the school districts.                                                                              
2:21:05 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PARADY reported  that superintendent  turnover in  Alaska in                                                               
the last four years  is over 70 percent. The ACSA  views SJR 9 as                                                               
a  means to  help stabilize  schools.  She pointed  out that  the                                                               
legislature   requires  school   districts  to   be  accountable.                                                               
However, as  previously mentioned,  ISER indicates that  it costs                                                               
districts  $20,000  for each  teacher  turnover  and $75,000  for                                                               
principals. She emphasized that  she shares these figures because                                                               
it  adds  another  element  of  importance  to  stabilize  school                                                               
district funding. The  districts want all of the  funding to flow                                                               
to the classroom, she said.                                                                                                     
She  explained the  process, that  school  districts start  their                                                               
recruitment  in  early spring  since  the  districts struggle  to                                                               
staff their classrooms.  She said that stable  funding for school                                                               
districts  is  essential,  which  is  why  SJR  9  would  have  a                                                               
substantial positive  impact on K-12 school  districts throughout                                                               
the  state.  It  would  bring certainty,  stability,  and  budget                                                               
planning. It would eliminate the  nonproductive work of preparing                                                               
various budget  scenarios while education  funding is  debated to                                                               
the  bitter end  of the  legislative session.  As Senator  Shower                                                               
mentioned, it  is an age-old  problem. The legislature  wants the                                                               
schools to  be productive and in  order to do so,  they must have                                                               
stable funding.                                                                                                                 
DR.  PARADY said  that some  members are  online to  provide more                                                               
detail. As previously mentioned,  the timing of signing contracts                                                               
for tenured teachers is May 15 and  at the end of the school year                                                               
for nontenured teachers. She emphasized  the need to tell quality                                                               
educators that they  have jobs, so they do not  leave. While some                                                               
issues related  to teacher retention  are not relevant to  SJR 9,                                                               
it would provide  the needed budgetary stability.  In closing she                                                               
indicated that the ACSA supports SJR 9.                                                                                         
2:25:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES asked  her earlier  question, whether  other states                                                               
are facing similar problems.                                                                                                    
DR.  PARADY  said that  she  works  with the  Northwest  Regional                                                               
Education Lab,  a federal  lab that  receives funding  to support                                                               
the Northwest region.  She said that the  organization is working                                                               
to  address  the educator  shortage  that  everyone in  the  U.S.                                                               
faces. Although  she did not  have specific information  on these                                                               
states, she  was aware that Washington  increased their teachers'                                                               
CHAIR HUGHES  asked to hone  on the  issue related to  pink slips                                                               
rather than on teacher shortages.                                                                                               
DR.  PARADY  offered  to  research  it and  report  back  to  the                                                               
2:26:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE asked  what happens  in other  jurisdictions in                                                               
terms  of teacher  [pink slips]  and  the level  of salaries  and                                                               
benefits. He hoped  to use this information as a  tool for hiring                                                               
and retention.  He understood  that these  vary in  other states,                                                               
but he would like to determine the extent of the obstacle.                                                                      
DR. PARADY offered to provide the information to the committee.                                                                 
2:27:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER acknowledged  that the  state has  constitutional                                                               
and statutory obligations to provide  education. The timing seems                                                               
critical, so  he currently supports  SJR 9. In terms  of funding,                                                               
he recalled  the lack of  tenure. He suggested that  the youngest                                                               
teachers coming  in are  likely the  ones who  are cut  first. It                                                               
seems that  the districts would want  to keep them. He  asked the                                                               
percentage  of  [tenured  versus non-tenured  teachers]  who  are                                                               
DR.  PARADY related  her  understanding that  he  is speaking  of                                                               
tenured  versus  non-tenured  teachers.  She  responded  that  30                                                               
percent of  the teachers  who are  not retained  are non-tenured.                                                               
These are the teachers who  receive notification or pink slips on                                                               
the last  day. She acknowledged  that some of these  teachers are                                                               
fantastic  teachers who  are energetic  and resourceful  that the                                                               
districts  would like  to retain.  These teachers  can leave  and                                                               
work anywhere.                                                                                                                  
2:29:28 PM                                                                                                                    
NILS  ANDREASSEN,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Municipal  League                                                               
(AML),  Juneau, spoke  on  the importance  of  early funding  and                                                               
stability   in  funding.   The  National   Conference  of   State                                                               
Legislatures  (NCSL)  notes  that   states  bear  the  burden  of                                                               
ensuring  a  statewide education  finance  system  is founded  on                                                               
sound  governance principles.  According  to NCSL  a sound  state                                                               
school finance  system promotes  predictability and  stability of                                                               
education revenues and expenditures over time.                                                                                  
He  referred   to  an  earlier   question  on  how   other  state                                                               
legislatures approach  funding. He did  a quick review  and found                                                               
that many  other legislatures  adjourn in  April, May,  June, and                                                               
July.  He surmised  these jurisdictions  must similarly  struggle                                                               
with these issues. He offered  to ask his counterparts in leagues                                                               
throughout the nation.                                                                                                          
Every  state constitution  contains a  clause that  requires that                                                               
the state  must provide  a system of  free public  education. The                                                               
Alaska  Municipal League  (AML) has  been a  strong proponent  of                                                               
forward funding,  early funding  of education  budgets, including                                                               
support   for  school   bond   debt   reimbursement  and   school                                                               
construction.  In  2006 and  2007,  the  AML adopted  resolutions                                                               
advocating  for stable  and predictable  funding. Since  then the                                                               
AML's position  statements have reflected  its support  for early                                                               
funding to give school districts  the lead time needed to recruit                                                               
and retain  qualified and  high performing  teachers. The  AML is                                                               
opposed to  decreasing funding for schools  since dramatic shifts                                                               
in  funding  levels or  timing  creates  havoc for  districts  to                                                               
implement  programs,  and  because  it  also  leads  to  deferred                                                               
maintenance on school facilities.                                                                                               
MR.  ANDREASSEN  urged  that  something  must  be  done  to  find                                                               
solutions that  are predictable and sustainable.  These solutions                                                               
cannot  come at  the cost  of student  achievement and  should be                                                               
implemented  over  time  and   correspond  to  local  conditions,                                                               
planning, and negotiated agreements.                                                                                            
He  said  that passing  SJR  9  is  a  critical step  for  school                                                               
districts to  improve educational attainment in  Alaska. It would                                                               
allow municipalities  to plan and budget  accordingly, especially                                                               
since local  taxes can shift.  This resolution would  improve the                                                               
quality   of  the   local  contribution   by  building   in  this                                                               
responsiveness. In  FY 2017,  local governments  contributed $486                                                               
million  to  school  districts,  or   40  percent  of  the  state                                                               
contribution  toward  its  constitutional obligation  to  provide                                                               
public  education. In  addition, federal  impact aid,  a form  of                                                               
local   contribution,  added   millions  to   the  total.   Local                                                               
contributions can be  more effective when the  state's support is                                                               
predictable and  identified early enough in  the planning process                                                               
for local  governments to effectively  plan. In closing,  he said                                                               
that AML applauds this effort  to improve the timeliness of state                                                               
decision making as it relates to education in Alaska.                                                                           
2:33:27 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM  KLAAMEYER,   Teacher;  Vice-President,   National  Education                                                               
Association, Alaska  (NEA Alaska), Eagle River,  spoke in support                                                               
of SJR 9 since it  creates the additional stability and certainty                                                               
for  students, educators,  and  the families  who  depend on  the                                                               
public schools  every day.  Stability improves  student outcomes.                                                               
As a  social studies teacher at  the Eagle River High  School, he                                                               
also  serves   as  the  president  of   the  Anchorage  Education                                                               
Association.  He spoke  on behalf  of the  NEA Alaska.  Educators                                                               
includes not only teachers, but  the administrators, bus drivers,                                                               
cafeteria workers,  and nurses who  work in the  school community                                                               
to nurture its students.                                                                                                        
2:36:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KLAAMEYER thanked  the  sponsor and  the  committee for  its                                                               
efforts  and  support.  As teachers  and  professionals,  student                                                               
learning  is  the  focus  and top  priority.  He  emphasized  the                                                               
importance of  having well-trained, highly qualified  teachers in                                                               
the classroom, in conjunction with  other support staff including                                                               
teacher  assistants,  counselors,  and school  psychologists.  He                                                               
emphasized  this is  key  to their  success.  This helps  develop                                                               
He expressed  concern with the  current system, which  creates an                                                               
annual  element  of  disruption  during  the  legislative  budget                                                               
process. The  Anchorage School  District cannot  generate revenue                                                               
but relies  on the  state funding. The  ASD's deadline  to submit                                                               
its  budget to  the municipality  is  in March,  which means  the                                                               
state budget  decisions for education  are out of synch  with the                                                               
local  process.   Last  year,   the  bipartisan   effort  created                                                               
temporary  forward  funding.  Educators are  scared  about  class                                                               
sizes, jobs, families,  and pink slips. Seven  former teachers of                                                               
the year wrote  an opinion published in the  Anchorage Daily news                                                               
recently that  illustrates the problems  teachers face  in Alaska                                                               
as compared with  other states. Alaska is the  only state without                                                               
a  defined benefit  program, he  said. He  shared anecdotes  that                                                               
highlighted  the problems,  including that  the Anchorage  School                                                               
District has  eighty openings with  no applicants.  The five-year                                                               
attrition rate is 50 percent  in Anchorage. In closing he offered                                                               
the NEA Alaska's support for SJR 9.                                                                                             
2:41:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked  for verification that Alaska  is the only                                                               
state without a defined benefit plan.                                                                                           
2:42:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  responded that  he has  not seen  any willingness                                                               
[by NEA Alaska] to work  to reduce school districts or buildings.                                                               
He  emphasized  that  the legislature  wants  educators  to  have                                                               
stability,  but  it needs  NEA  and  other  groups to  help  find                                                               
solutions and  efficiencies. He understands  that the  issues are                                                               
complicated, but he has not found a cooperative environment.                                                                    
MR. KLAAMEYER  said he and  Mr. Parker  are willing to  engage in                                                               
conversations to improve student outcomes.                                                                                      
2:45:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  stated that  she  welcomes  the public  to  submit                                                               
written comments to senate.judiciary@akleg.gov.                                                                                 
2:46:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  said that  returning to  a defined  benefit system                                                               
would lower the  upfront cost and keep costs neutral  in the long                                                               
term. He commented that it provides efficiency in the system.                                                                   
2:46:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES opened public testimony on SJR 9.                                                                                  
2:46:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SHAWN  ARNOLD, Superintendent,  Valdez  City Schools;  President-                                                               
Elect  Alaska  Superintendents   Association,  Valdez,  spoke  in                                                               
support  of  SJR  9.  He echoed  the  importance  of  predictable                                                               
funding, timely, and reliable funding,  which is crucial to sound                                                               
financial  management and  recruitment and  retention of  quality                                                               
educators. As  Dr. Parady previously  mentioned, this is  the key                                                               
component  in  their 2019  joint  statement.  He emphasized  that                                                               
school  districts  cannot  operate  efficiently  and  effectively                                                               
without  knowing  revenue  for  the  school  year.  As  a  school                                                               
superintendent, he  said that his  goal is to provide  a globally                                                               
competitive education  to enable  students to be  successful. His                                                               
school district must submit its  budget to the local municipality                                                               
by May 1.  The district prepares four budgets to  be prepared for                                                               
any outcome.  Although the  district has  hired its  teachers for                                                               
next year,  it is possible the  district would need to  spend its                                                               
reserves to make up any difference.                                                                                             
He urged  members to consider  timely, reliable,  and predictable                                                               
funding  for  K-12  school  districts  to  create  stability  and                                                               
improve student outcomes.                                                                                                       
2:50:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM   ANDERSON,  Chief   Financial   Officer,  Anchorage   School                                                               
District,  Anchorage, spoke  in  support  of SJR  9  in order  to                                                               
provide  timely,  reliable,  and predictable  funding  throughout                                                               
Alaska.  He  indicated that  several  years  of flat  funding  is                                                               
taking  its  toll on  the  school  districts' ability  to  retain                                                               
talented teachers,  implement programmatic  changes and  to focus                                                               
on  student needs  and outcomes.  It is  challenging to  create a                                                               
multi-year  strategy   to  improve  student  outcomes   when  the                                                               
districts' administrators  do not know  the level of  funding the                                                               
districts  will receive  45 days  prior to  the beginning  of the                                                               
school  year.   For  example,  implementing   curriculum  changes                                                               
requires  professional  development  to   improve  the  level  of                                                               
instruction.  Further,  continually  assessing data  for  student                                                               
outcomes  requires  predictable   resources.  He  reiterated  the                                                               
deadline  for  budget submittals  to  the  Anchorage Assembly  is                                                               
March 1. Last  January, the district felt confident  it would not                                                               
need  to issue  pink slips  in May  due to  forward funding  that                                                               
passed in  House Bill 287. In  fact, for the first  time in three                                                               
years, the  school district was  able to  keep the same  pupil to                                                               
teacher ratio.  However, without any certainty  of the district's                                                               
budget, by statute the district  must issue pink slips to tenured                                                               
teachers in  34 days and to  non-tenured teachers in 42  days. He                                                               
said that  historically 10  percent of  the teachers  who receive                                                               
pink  slips  either  leave  the  state, take  a  job  in  another                                                               
district,  or are  no longer  available for  hire. The  Anchorage                                                               
School District  enjoys some economies  of scale, such  that 79.3                                                               
percent of spending  is for instruction. At this  point, any cuts                                                               
are  cuts  to  teachers.  He  urged  the  committee  to  strongly                                                               
consider  SJR   9.  Alaska's  children  are   its  most  precious                                                               
resource.  Any  failures  to  educate   students  are  often  not                                                               
apparent for  eight or nine  years, he elaborated.  "Their future                                                               
is our future," he said.                                                                                                        
2:56:18 PM                                                                                                                    
DAN CARSTENS,  President, Alaska Association of  Secondary School                                                               
Principals;  Principal, Nikiski  High School,  Nikiski, spoke  in                                                               
support of  SJR 9.  Currently, the  school district  cannot offer                                                               
contracts to  five non-tenured teachers. These  five teachers are                                                               
ones who give "above and  beyond." He characterized them as "some                                                               
of our best  and brightest." It is hugely important  to keep this                                                               
generation of teachers to avoid  gaps when other teachers retire,                                                               
he said. When teachers leave the  area, they often do not return.                                                               
He  emphasized that  early education  funding  would help  retain                                                               
teachers. He  urged members to pass  SJR 9 to allow  the district                                                               
and  schools to  adequately plan  and so  it can  retain its  new                                                               
2:59:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES, after  first  determining no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SJR 9.                                                                                      
2:59:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  said that he  appreciated the  sponsor bringing                                                               
SJR  9  forward. He  acknowledged  that  education funding  is  a                                                               
primary  issue that  is exacerbated  by  challenging budgets  and                                                               
Alaska's children are paying the  price. He said that he supports                                                               
this  approach. He  said he  has  discussed this  issue with  Mr.                                                               
Carsens,  who confirmed  that the  district works  hard to  bring                                                               
people  into the  district,  but it  is  especially difficult  to                                                               
retain them. Often  times, these teachers prove  during their one                                                               
year in  the classroom  that they  are excellent  teachers, which                                                               
makes it easier  for them to find better jobs  and pay elsewhere.                                                               
Alaska never gets them back, he said.                                                                                           
[SJR 9 was held in committee].                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SJR009A.PDF SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
Sponsor Statement-SJR 9.pdf SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
01_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_BillText_VersionA.PDF SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
02_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SponsorStatement_13March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
04_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_FiscalNote01_DEED_Foundation.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
05_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_FiscalNote02_DEED_PubEdFund.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
06_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_Constitutional References.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
07_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_AK Budget Passage History_22Jan2018.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
08_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_Ed Budget Timelines_11March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
09_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_LAA Legal Memo_19Feb2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
10_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_CAEPR_Teacher Turnover Costs.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
11_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_Costello_Press Release_06March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
12_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_ASCA_08March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
13_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_AASB_11March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 11
14_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_NEA_12March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
15_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportEmails_13March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR009A.PDF SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM