Legislature(2011 - 2012)BUTROVICH 205

02/22/2011 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION


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01:02:05 PM Start
01:03:16 PM SB77
01:41:05 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 77 APPROP.: PUBLIC TRANSIT PROJECTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 77(TRA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            SB  77-APPROP.: PUBLIC TRANSIT PROJECTS                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:03:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KOOKESH announced the consideration  of SB 77 and asked for                                                               
a motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS).                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:03:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS  moved to adopt work  draft CS for SB  77, labeled                                                               
27-LS0348\E, as  the working document. There  being no objection,                                                               
version E was before the committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:03:49 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  ROGERS,  staff   to  Senator  Ellis,  sponsor   of  SB  77,                                                               
introduced the bill speaking to the following sponsor statement:                                                                
     Senate  Bill  77  provides  three  million  dollars  in                                                                    
     matching funds  to support community  transit projects.                                                                    
     Alaska  is  one of  only  three  states that  does  not                                                                    
     provide operating support  for public transit, shifting                                                                    
     the entire burden to  local governments and non-profits                                                                    
     to  partner  with  the federal  government  to  provide                                                                    
     these  services.  In  too  many  cases,  local  transit                                                                    
     agencies must  turn down  federal funding  because they                                                                    
     cannot meet  a required matching  component. Increasing                                                                    
     fares and diminishing service  routes have the greatest                                                                    
     impact on Alaska's most  vulnerable citizens, making it                                                                    
     more  difficult  for  seniors to  get  to  health  care                                                                    
     providers,  for  workers  to   get  to  jobs,  and  for                                                                    
     students of all ages to get to school.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The State  of Alaska currently provides  direct general                                                                    
     fund   matching   assistance   for   other   modes   of                                                                    
     transportation,   including  highways,   aviation,  and                                                                    
     harbors.  Annual federal  funding  available to  Alaska                                                                    
     for  transit assistance  varies from  year-to-year, but                                                                    
     averages nine  million dollars or more.  In many cases,                                                                    
     Alaska  is not  capturing  these federal  funds due  to                                                                    
     insufficient  matching  funding.  State funds  to  help                                                                    
     meet  the  match  requirement   would  put  public  and                                                                    
     community  transportation providers  on a  parity level                                                                    
     with  other  federal   and  state  "partnerships"  that                                                                    
     provide transportation for Alaskans.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Senate Bill  77 appropriates  three million  dollars to                                                                    
     the  Alaska  Department  of Transportation  and  Public                                                                    
     Facilities  to  award  to community  transit  providers                                                                    
     through a  competitive grant  process, with  a required                                                                    
     50 percent match requirement )in  kind or cash). Senate                                                                    
     Bill 77 is a legislative  priority for the Municipality                                                                    
     of   Anchorage,   the   Alaska  Mental   Health   Trust                                                                    
     Authority,   the   Alaska   Mobility   Coalition,   the                                                                    
     Governor's   Council   on  Disabilities   and   Special                                                                    
     Education, and the Alaska Commission on Aging.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROGERS  directed attention to  an article from  the Anchorage                                                               
Daily News  (ADN) that talks  about the  need for more  buses and                                                               
drivers  because  it's currently  very  difficult  to get  around                                                               
Eagle River.  This isn't an  isolated example, but  it highlights                                                               
that  public  transit in  the  state  is  under threat  as  local                                                               
communities make  difficult choices about where  to spend limited                                                               
tax  dollars. He  noted that  the bill  was the  second of  three                                                               
recommendations  that  came  out of  the  Governor's  Coordinated                                                               
Transportation  Task  Force  report.  Any  public  transportation                                                               
entity, including water  and air, would qualify  for the funding,                                                               
he said, but state projects are specifically excluded.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROGERS directed  attention to a handout  that highlighted the                                                               
benefits of public transit such  as $1 invested in public transit                                                               
yields $3.20  in business  sales; $1  million invested  in public                                                               
transit  brings  36  fulltime   sustainable  jobs;  using  public                                                               
transit can  save an individual  $9,000 per year; and  one person                                                               
switching  to  public  transit  can  save  20  pounds  of  carbon                                                               
emissions per  year. A Dittman  survey indicates that  only three                                                               
percent of Alaskans believe that  public transit is not important                                                               
at all; 88 percent believe that  the state should provide a match                                                               
when federal funds  are available. The bill has  support from the                                                               
Alaska    Municipal    League,   the    Governor's    Coordinated                                                               
Transportation  Task Force,  the Alaska  Mobility Coalition,  the                                                               
Alaska Mental  Health Trust Authority,  the Alaska  Commission on                                                               
Aging, the  Alaska Center for  the Environment,  the Municipality                                                               
of Anchorage, the Mat-Su Borough, and senior groups statewide.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:09:03 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROGERS  explained that  the CS  makes the  following changes:                                                               
The word "operating"  was removed from the bill  to allow maximum                                                               
flexibility for local communities to  tell DOTPF in a competitive                                                               
grant process  about their  real needs.  Language has  been added                                                               
that says  that the state match  cannot be more than  50 percent.                                                               
Language has  been inserted stating  that the  legislative intent                                                               
is  that  the  appropriation  will  be  allocated  to  achieve  a                                                               
statewide  balance  between urban  and  rural  areas. It  is  not                                                               
dependant on ridership.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROGERS noted  that  page XI  of  the Governor's  Coordinated                                                               
Transportation Task  Force report contains language  about making                                                               
specific   state  funds   available  for   public  transportation                                                               
projects  and providers,  which can  match federal  funds, during                                                               
the  annual   appropriation  process.  On  page   10  the  report                                                               
highlights that the lack of  specific state funding for operating                                                               
transit  systems  is  an  exacerbating   factor  in  this  state.                                                               
According  to  a 2008  report  from  the  U.S. DOT,  state  funds                                                               
support about  20 percent  of the  total public  transit resource                                                               
for operating and capital expenditures  nationally, but the State                                                               
of Alaska support is zero. Alaska  is one of three states that do                                                               
not provide  regular annual operating support  for public transit                                                               
projects.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The report  further points out,  on page 11, that  because Alaska                                                               
provides no  specific funding for operating  expenses, individual                                                               
communities and  non-profit entities must work  to secure federal                                                               
funding for operating expenses.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Recommendation II of  the CTTF is for the state  to make specific                                                               
state funds  available to support  operating expenses  for public                                                               
transportation projects and providers given the state's need to:                                                                
   · Secure all or a significant share of the available federal                                                                 
     funding.                                                                                                                   
   · Support the high cost of operating public transportation                                                                   
     systems and the connectivity between them.                                                                                 
   · Motivate local leaders to pursue coordination of public                                                                    
     transportation services for local residents.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:12:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ROGERS  highlighted  that  a group  of  Homer  residents  is                                                               
working to make  public transit happen in that  community and all                                                               
they need  from the  state is  money to  meet the  federal match.                                                               
Likewise, the  Juneau Chamber of  Commerce has indicated  that it                                                               
recognizes the importance of public  transit. We'll have a winner                                                               
on our hands if more  chambers, environmental groups, and seniors                                                               
groups agree that this is a good idea, he concluded.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:14:15 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  LEVY,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Mobility  Commission,                                                               
stated that AMC  supports this bill as a way  to partner with the                                                               
state, not as a  handout. Local communities, non-profits, tribes,                                                               
and the  federal government all  invest in  public transportation                                                               
and  it's time  for the  State  of Alaska  to  step up  and be  a                                                               
partner.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MENARD  commented that she's pleased  that the Governor's                                                               
task  force  was  involved  because this  assures  her  that  the                                                               
Governor is  on board.  She commented that  she would  think that                                                               
this would create more than just 36 jobs.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROGERS explained  that  the number  came  from the  American                                                               
Public  Transit  Association.  It  means 36  jobs  for  every  $1                                                               
million the  state puts in  and 36 jobs  for every $1  million in                                                               
federal funding.  This could  be as  much as  $10 million  to $12                                                               
million  from the  federal government,  which could  mean several                                                               
hundred jobs.  He clarified  that while  the bill  comes directly                                                               
out  of  the  Governor's Coordinated  Transportation  Task  Force                                                               
report, neither  the Governor nor the  administration has weighed                                                               
in on the bill.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:18:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS  posited a situation in  which three organizations                                                               
applied for and were granted $1  million each from the $3 million                                                               
appropriation. He  asked how the initial  grantees would backfill                                                               
their operating  budgets the following year  if six organizations                                                               
applied for  the funds  and the appropriation  was still  just $3                                                               
million.  Each applicant  would  then only  receive $500,000.  He                                                               
pointed out  that if it was  capital money it would  be there for                                                               
capital projects and the various  entities would accept that they                                                               
received  a one-time  grant and  they  might not  receive it  the                                                               
following year. He opined that  this bill builds anticipation for                                                               
operating funds.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:20:12 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. LEVY said  DOTPF has a competitive grant  process for federal                                                               
money  in place  and communities  have to  ensure that  they have                                                               
certain  resources to  qualify. The  sponsor envisions  a similar                                                               
process for  the $3  million appropriation and  if the  state has                                                               
less money to provide in subsequent  years, that's the way it is.                                                               
Local  communities  have  gotten  nothing  in  the  past  and  if                                                               
resources become scarce  the local communities will  need to work                                                               
that out accordingly.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS  clarified  that  his concern  was  that  the  $3                                                               
million  appropriation would  theoretically be  split among  more                                                               
entities each year, and it's operating money.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROGERS  said it's a  good point and  they would take  it into                                                               
consideration,   but  he   agrees  with   Mr.  Levy   that  local                                                               
communities  get  nothing now  and  realize  that there  will  be                                                               
competition in the future.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD  encouraged the sponsor to  get the administration                                                               
on board  sooner rather  than later  and to  change the  slide to                                                               
show, without doing math, how many jobs would result.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:24:31 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  OTTESEN, Director  of  Program  Development, Department  of                                                               
Transportation  and   Public  Facilities  (DOTPF)   informed  the                                                               
committee that he  oversees the transit staff for  DOTPF and that                                                               
he chaired the first and second  iterations of the task force. He                                                               
said  the bill  gives DOTPF  a great  deal of  latitude and  they                                                               
would put this to good use if the bill were to pass.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:25:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS asked Mr. Ottesen  to comment on the entities that                                                               
have indicated need.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  OTTESEN said  there is  a  demonstrated need  in the  senior                                                               
population, the various disabled  populations, low income people,                                                               
and the  unemployed. They all  need transit. He was  surprised to                                                               
learn that 75  percent of the employees at the  local Fred Meyers                                                               
store  rely on  public  transit, but  this  isn't unique.  Senior                                                               
centers  statewide,   fixed  route  transit  operators   in  many                                                               
communities, and non-profit social  service agencies serve a wide                                                               
variety of customers.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:27:30 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHY  WASSERMAN, Executive  Director,  Alaska Municipal  League,                                                               
stated support for  SB 77. There is  a need in this  state to not                                                               
only provide but also maintain  jobs, and without transit systems                                                               
many people have  no way to get  to work. This is  a win-win idea                                                               
because it  requires a  match and  the municipalities  support it                                                               
fully.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:29:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CONNIE SIPE, Executive Director,  Center for Community, explained                                                               
that  when  Sitka  received  federal  money  for  public  transit                                                               
several years ago,  the Center for Community was  asked to become                                                               
the  managing  agency.  As  required   by  law,  CFC  operates  a                                                               
coordinated  public  transit  system. They  coordinate  with  the                                                               
Sitka Tribe  of Alaska  to drive the  buses and  Southeast Senior                                                               
Services for  Care-A-Van rides for  anyone who has  a disability.                                                               
The Center for  Community brings about $616,000  in federal money                                                               
to  Sitka  and they  raise  local  in-kind match  that's  between                                                               
$380,000 and $400,000. When the  tribe applied for and received a                                                               
direct  federal grant,  a  third transit  route  was opened.  The                                                               
three  entities  each  own  vans  and buses  and  they  use  them                                                               
together. SB 77  would give CFC the opportunity for  a cash match                                                               
compared to  the current  in-kind match,  which would  provide an                                                               
opportunity  for  expanded  service.  While  there's  been  great                                                               
support,  operating capital  and match  funds have  been hard  to                                                               
come by, she said.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD commented  that she likes the concept  of the bill                                                               
and she  can't understand  the current trend  to turn  back money                                                               
from the federal government.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:36:23 PM                                                                                                                    
DOUG  BRIDGES,  Southeast  Senior  Services,  Catholic  Community                                                               
Services, stated  support for  SB 77.  He informed  the committee                                                               
that  Catholic  Community  Services is  the  complementary  para-                                                               
transit provider  in Sitka, Ketchikan,  and Juneau and  they also                                                               
provide senior transportation in  smaller communities. Every year                                                               
they provide over  85,000 rides. He said he also  wants to remind                                                               
the  committee  about  the importance  of  transit  for  economic                                                               
development and tourism. It is  time for the state to demonstrate                                                               
its  support  for  transit  in   communities,  he  said.  Without                                                               
question, the  senior population is  growing and if the  state is                                                               
willing  to make  this commitment  it will  help keep  seniors in                                                               
Alaska and in  smaller rural communities in  particular. He noted                                                               
that  Catholic  Community Services  is  looking  to help  develop                                                               
transit  systems  in  communities  on  Prince  of  Wales  Island.                                                               
Currently the  assets are there  to develop transit and  there is                                                               
interest. Interest from the state would assist this effort.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:40:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KOOKESH closed  public testimony and asked the  will of the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MENARD  moved  to  report  SB  77  from  committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOOKESH announced  that  without  objection, CSSB  77(TRA)                                                               
moved from the Senate Transportation Standing Committee.                                                                        

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