Legislature(2017 - 2018)ADAMS ROOM 519

03/01/2018 01:00 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
01:03:44 PM Start
01:04:30 PM HB285 || HB286
01:07:00 PM Public Testimony: Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-su, and Seward
03:16:56 PM Public Testimony: Utqiagvik, Dillingham, and Fairbanks
04:02:06 PM Public Testimony: off Net Sites
04:36:53 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
1:00 - 3:00 PM Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak,
Mat-Su, & Seward
3:15 - 4:45 PM Utqiagvik, Dillingham, & Fairbanks
4:15 - 4:45 PM Off Net sites
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
- Please arrive 30 min. prior to end of allotted
time or testimony will close early
- Select a spokesperson if you are part of a
group with the same message
- All Off Net callers must hang up immediately
after testifying to keep lines open
- Continue to access meeting through akleg.gov
- The hearing may be televised on Gavel to Gavel,
please check listings
- Please arrive 15 min. early for sign-in process
Send written testimony to housefinance@akleg.gov
before 3/3/18 at 1:00 PM
- Please call 465-4648 to obtain call-in number
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       March 1, 2018                                                                                            
                         1:03 p.m.                                                                                              
1:03:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Seaton  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 1:03 p.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Paul Seaton, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Les Gara, Vice-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Jason Grenn                                                                                                      
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                     
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                   
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Bryan  Zak, Mayor,  City of  Homer,  Homer; Donna  Aderhold,                                                                    
City  Council Member,  City of  Homer, Homer;  Jim Hornaday,                                                                    
Kenai Peninsula  College Council,  Homer; Dave  Lewis, Self,                                                                    
Homer;  Ginger  Fortin,  Self, Ketchikan;  Cynna  Gubatayao,                                                                    
Finance  Director,  Ketchikan  Gateway  Borough,  Ketchikan;                                                                    
Janalee  Gage, Self,  Ketchikan;  Mary  Deihl, Self,  Homer;                                                                    
Heather  Foxworthy,  Parents  As  Teachers,  Kodiak;  Brenda                                                                    
Ahlberg,  Kenai  Peninsula   Borough,  Kenai;  Louie  Flora,                                                                    
Kachemak  Bay Campus  Community Advisory  Board, Homer;  Pat                                                                    
Branson,  Mayor  of  Kodiak,  Kodiak;  Ghert  Abbott,  Self,                                                                    
Ketchikan;  Joe Griskonis,  Self, Kodiak;  Robert Archibald,                                                                    
Self, Homer;  Jeanette Grasto,  National Alliance  on Mental                                                                    
Illness, Fairbanks; Richard  Theilmann, Self, Fairbanks; Don                                                                    
Gray,   Self,   Fairbanks;   Kathy   Karella,   Self/Family,                                                                    
Fairbanks;  Donald Karella,  Self/Family, Fairbanks;  Steven                                                                    
Hansen,  Self, Fairbanks;  Marna  Sanford, Self,  Fairbanks;                                                                    
Jody Potts,  Self, Fairbanks; Ron Templeton,  Fairbanks Fire                                                                    
Department, Fairbanks; Randy  Griffin, Self, Fairbanks; Kate                                                                    
Ripley,  UAF  Alumni  Association, Fairbanks;  Ron  Johnson,                                                                    
Self,  Fairbanks;  Jeff  Benowitz,  Self,  Fairbanks;  Cindy                                                                    
Wright, UAF  Alumni Board Member, Fairbanks;  Alan Backford,                                                                    
Self, Dillingham; Kaleen Lamb,  Self, Fairbanks; Brother Tom                                                                    
Patmor, Self, Clam Gulch.                                                                                                       
HB 285    APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
          HB 285 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
HB 286    APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
          HB 286 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton reviewed the meeting agenda.                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 285                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive mental health  program; and providing for                                                                    
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
HOUSE BILL NO. 286                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain   programs;    capitalizing   funds;   amending                                                                    
     appropriations;  making   supplemental  appropriations;                                                                    
     making  appropriations  under   art.  IX,  sec.  17(c),                                                                    
     Constitution  of   the  State   of  Alaska,   from  the                                                                    
     constitutional budget  reserve fund; and  providing for                                                                    
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
1:04:30 PM                                                                                                                    
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: HOMER, KENAI, KETCHIKAN, KODIAK, MAT-SU,                                                                   
and SEWARD                                                                                                                    
1:07:00 PM                                                                                                                    
BRYAN   ZAK,    MAYOR,   CITY    OF   HOMER,    HOMER   (via                                                                    
teleconference),   testified   in   support   of   community                                                                    
assistance funding.  He thanked the committee  for including                                                                    
the $30  million in funding  in the supplemental  budget. He                                                                    
relayed the funding was important  to many rural communities                                                                    
throughout Alaska.                                                                                                              
1:07:57 PM                                                                                                                    
DONNA ADERHOLD,  CITY COUNCIL MEMBER,  CITY OF  HOMER, HOMER                                                                    
(via   teleconference),  spoke   in  support   of  community                                                                    
assistance (also  called revenue sharing). She  stressed the                                                                    
importance  of  the  funds   to  the  community,  especially                                                                    
considering state budget  cuts. She shared that  in 2015 the                                                                    
city  had  removed  the  funds  from  its  operating  budget                                                                    
because of the volatility of  the funds. In recent years the                                                                    
community had  used the funds for  community health projects                                                                    
and towards  the construction of  a new police  station that                                                                    
was a  priority to the  city. She detailed that  Homer would                                                                    
most likely  dedicate funds to police  station construction.                                                                    
The station would include a  community jail. She thanked the                                                                    
committee for its time.                                                                                                         
1:09:21 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM HORNADAY,  KENAI PENINSULA  COLLEGE COUNCIL,  HOMER (via                                                                    
teleconference),   testified  in   support   of  the   Kenai                                                                    
Peninsula College  (KPC) budget. He shared  there were three                                                                    
campuses  located in  the area.  The college  had been  told                                                                    
that the state's funding for  the University system had been                                                                    
decreasing  annually by  a significant  amount. He  detailed                                                                    
that in the past the  state had provided 80 percent funding,                                                                    
but  it was  down  to  approximately 40  to  50 percent.  He                                                                    
supported  additional  state  funds. He  mentioned  matching                                                                    
funds for  the University  that brought  in over  $2 million                                                                    
for the Bay  Reserve. He stated that the program  was on the                                                                    
cutting  edge  of  salmon  production,  erosion,  and  ocean                                                                    
safety. Additionally, he supported Homer funding requests.                                                                      
1:11:30 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE  LEWIS,   SELF,  HOMER  (via   teleconference),  echoed                                                                    
testimony  from the  past three  speakers.  He relayed  that                                                                    
state budget  cuts had  resulted in  cuts to  personnel that                                                                    
had managed grants  through the Department of  Fish and Game                                                                    
and  the  Department of  Natural  Resources.  The state  was                                                                    
losing millions of dollars in  grants because they had cut a                                                                    
position  that may  cost  $75,000 to  $100,000.  He did  not                                                                    
support the position cut.                                                                                                       
1:12:36 PM                                                                                                                    
GINGER FORTIN, SELF,  KETCHIKAN (via teleconference), shared                                                                    
that she had to travel  to Anchorage for medical service and                                                                    
she was no longer able to  fly. She was very concerned about                                                                    
cuts to  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System (AMHS)  that had                                                                    
resulted  in   reduced  cross-gulf  ferry  service   to  her                                                                    
community.  She  spoke  in support  of  funding  for  public                                                                    
1:13:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CYNNA   GUBATAYAO,  FINANCE   DIRECTOR,  KETCHIKAN   GATEWAY                                                                    
BOROUGH,   KETCHIKAN  (via   teleconference),  thanked   the                                                                    
committee  for the  additional $30  million in  supplemental                                                                    
community assistance  funds. She stressed the  importance of                                                                    
the funds for  the borough. The funds had  been dwindling in                                                                    
recent years, but they still  represented about 4 percent of                                                                    
the  borough's general  fund  budget  and approximately  0.3                                                                    
mills  on an  areawide  property tax  basis.  She urged  the                                                                    
committee to maintain the funds going forward.                                                                                  
1:14:41 PM                                                                                                                    
JANALEE   GAGE,   SELF,  KETCHIKAN   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in support  of  hospital-based behavioral  health                                                                    
funds.  She was  supportive  the  governor's increments  for                                                                    
public  guardians, the  Alaska  Psychiatric Institute  (API)                                                                    
and  other.  She  explained  that   the  opioid  crisis  and                                                                    
recidivism could not be  addressed without acknowledging the                                                                    
mental health  needs in communities.  She supported  API but                                                                    
believed relying only  on one facility for  the entire state                                                                    
and sending people in crisis  to the facility caused further                                                                    
trauma by  taking people from  their homes. She  stated that                                                                    
all the programs were burning at  the end of their ropes and                                                                    
programs were short staffed. She provided an example.                                                                           
1:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MARY DEIHL, SELF, HOMER  (via teleconference), spoke against                                                                    
cuts to AMHS  that had resulted in  limited cross-gulf ferry                                                                    
service. She shared that she  was visiting Ketchikan and had                                                                    
to  fly and  rent  a car  because there  had  been no  ferry                                                                    
service. She would have much preferred taking the ferry.                                                                        
1:17:34 PM                                                                                                                    
HEATHER   FOXWORTHY,  PARENTS   AS  TEACHERS,   KODIAK  (via                                                                    
teleconference),   testified  in   support  of   Parents  as                                                                    
Teachers. She  spoke about the  money saved to  local school                                                                    
districts because  of the program.  She pointed  to research                                                                    
showing  that  every dollar  spent  on  early education  and                                                                    
preventative services saved  the state up to  $14 later. She                                                                    
asked the committee how they  felt when they had been first-                                                                    
time parents. She asked members  to think about whether they                                                                    
had  instantly  been experts  about  children  and had  felt                                                                    
totally  prepared  for  the  situation.  She  stressed  that                                                                    
healthy communities were built by healthy families.                                                                             
1:19:34 PM                                                                                                                    
BRENDA   AHLBERG,  KENAI   PENINSULA  BOROUGH,   KENAI  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  funding for  the                                                                    
community   assistance   program.   She   shared   that   27                                                                    
unincorporated  communities  received  the  funds  and  each                                                                    
community determined how to spend  the funds. Over the years                                                                    
of  managing the  grant  program  she had  seen  it go  from                                                                    
revenue  sharing  to  community  assistance.  She  had  seen                                                                    
several great projects come to  fruition over the years as a                                                                    
result of the  funding. She spoke about  matching grants and                                                                    
work  by  residents.  She  thanked  the  committee  for  its                                                                    
1:21:29 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Seaton noted  that there was currently  no one else                                                                    
online to testify. He shared  that the committee would break                                                                    
for 10 minutes.                                                                                                                 
1:22:12 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
1:36:36 PM                                                                                                                    
LOUIE FLORA,  KACHEMAK BAY CAMPUS COMMUNITY  ADVISORY BOARD,                                                                    
HOMER  (via teleconference),  testified  in  support of  the                                                                    
proposed  increase to  $336 million  for the  University. He                                                                    
noted it was still a decrease  but represented a step in the                                                                    
right direction. He believed funding  for the University was                                                                    
a strategic long-term investment.  He thought the University                                                                    
system well-suited  to work  on some  of the  challenges and                                                                    
capture  the  benefit of  research  funding  for the  Arctic                                                                    
pertaining to climate change. He  reiterated his support for                                                                    
additional funding for the University.                                                                                          
1:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT BRANSON,  MAYOR OF KODIAK, KODIAK  (via teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in  support  of community  assistance  funds  and                                                                    
thanked the legislature for  including additional funding in                                                                    
the supplemental  budget. The cities  around the  state used                                                                    
the  funds for  local  government  operation. She  expressed                                                                    
appreciation  on behalf  of the  Alaska Municipal  League as                                                                    
Co-Chair Seaton noted  the committee would take  a break for                                                                    
5 minutes.                                                                                                                      
1:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
1:47:07 PM                                                                                                                    
GHERT   ABBOTT,   SELF,  KETCHIKAN   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in  support  of   protecting  and  fully  funding                                                                    
Medicaid expansion  allowed by the Affordable  Care Act. The                                                                    
expansion  had done  considerable  good for  the health  and                                                                    
well-being  in  Alaska.   Medicaid  expansion  had  provided                                                                    
substantial  benefit  to him  after  a  suicide attempt.  He                                                                    
shared  information  about  a  friend  who  benefitted  from                                                                    
Medicaid  expansion  as  well.  He felt  strongly  that  the                                                                    
accessibility of the program should be protected.                                                                               
Representative  Wilson relayed  that Medicaid  expansion was                                                                    
fully funded in the budget.                                                                                                     
Mr.  Abbott  replied  that  he  was  grateful  to  hear  the                                                                    
1:50:07 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE  GRISKONIS, SELF,  KODIAK  (via teleconference),  echoed                                                                    
Mr. Abbott's testimony pertaining  to Medicaid expansion. He                                                                    
believed it  was important to  speak about mental  health in                                                                    
Alaska. He  stressed the importance  of universal  access in                                                                    
rural  Alaska.  He  lauded  the Kodiak  LIO  office  for  it                                                                    
services.  He  asked  the committee  to  include  money  for                                                                    
specific services for  mental health. He shared  that he was                                                                    
working  to  harvest  kelp.  He  spoke  about  his  personal                                                                    
challenges  and the  importance  of love  and compassion  in                                                                    
communities.  He stated  there  were angels  all around  and                                                                    
funds  from  the legislature  had  saved  lives. He  thanked                                                                    
legislators for  their work. He  spoke to the  importance of                                                                    
participation and being part of the change.                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Seaton  relayed the  committee  would  take a  15-                                                                    
minute break.                                                                                                                   
1:55:14 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
2:11:15 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Seaton  noted there continued  to be  no testifiers                                                                    
online. The committee would come back at 2:30 p.m.                                                                              
2:12:10 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
2:29:02 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT   ARCHIBALD,   SELF,  HOMER   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in support  of funding for the  Department of Fish                                                                    
and Game  budget to allow  the department to  access federal                                                                    
grants.  He  shared that  he  was  a  member of  Friends  at                                                                    
Kachemak  Bay  State  Park  and  that  federal  funds  would                                                                    
benefit the state park system.                                                                                                  
Co-Chair  Seaton relayed  the  committee  would break  until                                                                    
3:00 p.m.                                                                                                                       
2:31:50 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
3:16:32 PM                                                                                                                    
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: UTQIAGVIK, DILLINGHAM, and FAIRBANKS                                                                       
3:16:56 PM                                                                                                                    
JEANETTE  GRASTO,  NATIONAL   ALLIANCE  ON  MENTAL  ILLNESS,                                                                    
FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),  testified in  support  of                                                                    
funding  for mental  illness and  substance abuse  programs.                                                                    
She shared  that she had  adult family members  with serious                                                                    
mental illness. She  asked for the committee  to support the                                                                    
subcommittee  recommendation to  add $1.9  million of  funds                                                                    
for three years  to help hospitals better  serve adults with                                                                    
behavioral  health  issues.  She  discussed  a  shortage  of                                                                    
treatment beds.  She asked for support  for one-time funding                                                                    
of  $159,000  in  state funds  matched  with  Alaska  Mental                                                                    
Health Trust Authority  (AMHTA) funds to study  the need for                                                                    
forensic beds  for justice-involve individuals. She  did not                                                                    
think the state hospital was  large enough to meet the needs                                                                    
of the state. She supported  the governor's request of funds                                                                    
for  public  guardians  funding for  the  Office  of  Public                                                                    
Advocacy (OPA).  She discussed the important  work of public                                                                    
guardians,  and their  high  caseloads.  She also  supported                                                                    
funding for substance abuse and treatment disorders.                                                                            
3:19:31 PM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  THEILMANN,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in support of funding  for the University. He expected                                                                    
the  government  to fund  roads,  law  enforcement, and  the                                                                    
University.  He pointed  out  that  the University  produced                                                                    
income, and  thought cuts were  unwarranted. He  thought the                                                                    
University  should  be fully  funded  and  that the  funding                                                                    
should  exceed that  of the  governor's proposed  budget. He                                                                    
shared concerned about lack of University funding.                                                                              
3:20:57 PM                                                                                                                    
DON  GRAY, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), testified                                                                    
in  support of  using  Permanent Fund  earnings  to pay  for                                                                    
government. He  discussed an income  tax and bonding  to pay                                                                    
for new  infrastructure. He  was a  former stock  broker. He                                                                    
did  not like  the state's  lack  of a  balanced budget.  He                                                                    
discussed the Standard and Poor  credit rating of the state.                                                                    
He thought the  state should use the means  it had available                                                                    
to pay for government. He  thought the Permanent Fund should                                                                    
be   reasonable.  He   considered  that   there  should   be                                                                    
progressive  taxes to  fund  government  priorities such  as                                                                    
roads,  public  safety,  and  University.  He  thought  K-12                                                                    
education should be a priority.                                                                                                 
3:23:15 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHY KARELLA, SELF/FAMILY,  FAIRBANKS (via teleconference),                                                                    
testified   in  support   of   funding   for  services   for                                                                    
individuals  with  mental   and  physical  disabilities  and                                                                    
substance abuse  issues. She supported funding  services for                                                                    
individuals in  the criminal  justice system.  She discussed                                                                    
supports for mental health. Her  brother in law was disabled                                                                    
and needed  to utilize state services.  She thought services                                                                    
needed to be  easily accessible. Her family  had used public                                                                    
guardian services.  She emphasized  the need  for recidivism                                                                    
reduction services, and treatment for substance abuse.                                                                          
3:25:36 PM                                                                                                                    
DONALD     KARELLA,      SELF/FAMILY,     FAIRBANKS     (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  support   of  funding  for  the                                                                    
homeless.  He had  worked in  corrections for  15 years.  He                                                                    
discussed the issue of mass  incarceration and mental health                                                                    
issues.  He  shared  concerns about  lack  of  services  for                                                                    
veterans and homeless.  He was a Viet Nam  veteran. He urged                                                                    
the legislature to take care  of people that needed help. He                                                                    
referenced  a comment  from the  U.S.  Surgeon General  that                                                                    
indicated a $1 investment in mental health returned $17.                                                                        
3:28:02 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVEN HANSEN,  SELF, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support of  funding for  travel in  the Public  Defender                                                                    
Agency.  He  was  a  public  defender  for  the  agency.  He                                                                    
addressed  the   travel  budget,  which  he   considered  an                                                                    
important tool through which  his division delivered justice                                                                    
to  the rural  communities it  oversaw. The  Fairbanks Court                                                                    
System  was  responsible  for rural  courts  in  Tok,  Delta                                                                    
Junction, Nenana,  Fort Yukon,  and Galena.  The legislature                                                                    
had amended Criminal  Rule 11 a few  years previously, which                                                                    
had  given  the  agency  additional  options  for  community                                                                    
sentencing.   He  had   travelled   to   villages  to   hold                                                                    
community/alternative    sentencing    events,   which    he                                                                    
considered   had  been   an  effective   tool  in   reducing                                                                    
recidivism. He  wanted to ensure  that communities  could be                                                                    
safe  by delivering  a sentencing  mechanism that  seemed to                                                                    
have a  strong effect.  He discussed  the issue  of bringing                                                                    
clients  into  Fairbanks,  and a  recent  court  of  appeals                                                                    
3:30:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MARNA   SANFORD,  SELF,   FAIRBANKS  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in  support  of funding  for  the  Department  of                                                                    
Public Safety,  and for Public Defenders.  She thought there                                                                    
could not  be an  effective criminal justice  system without                                                                    
funding  for public  defenders.  She  emphasized the  public                                                                    
defenders were the first people  who came into jail to speak                                                                    
to  offenders.  She  emphasized   that  Alaskan  jails  were                                                                    
housing the  mentally ill  of the  state. She  discussed the                                                                    
heavy  caseloads  of  public defenders  in  the  state.  She                                                                    
referenced the  comments of an earlier  testifier that spoke                                                                    
about OPA, and supported funding for public guardians.                                                                          
3:32:23 PM                                                                                                                    
JODY POTTS,  SELF, FAIRBANKS (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support  of funding  for the  Village Public  Safety Officer                                                                    
(VPSO)  program. She  was a  Village  Public Safety  Officer                                                                    
(VPSO) sergeant  and the VPSO coordinator  at Tanana Chief's                                                                    
Conference.   She   thanked  Representative   Kawasaki   and                                                                    
Representative  Lincoln and  the House  Finance Subcommittee                                                                    
for  the   Department  of  Public  Safety   for  the  budget                                                                    
recommendations for the  VPSO program in rural  Alaska.  She                                                                    
thought there was potential to  make safer rural communities                                                                    
if regional  contractors were allowed flexibility  to manage                                                                    
the program to meet the  needs of the citizens. She reminded                                                                    
that VPSO  positions had  over 30  vacancies, with  over 100                                                                    
rural communities  without law enforcement present.  She was                                                                    
concerned about justice for victims.                                                                                            
3:34:11 PM                                                                                                                    
RON  TEMPLETON, FAIRBANKS  FIRE  DEPARTMENT, FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  returning Public                                                                    
Employees'  Retirement System  (PERS) to  a defined  benefit                                                                    
retirement.  He was  the assistant  chief  of the  Fairbanks                                                                    
Fire Department. He supported  funding for fire departments.                                                                    
He  discussed hiring  practices of  the fire  department. He                                                                    
discussed the steep decline in  applicants and the high rate                                                                    
of  employee  turnover  in the  fire  department  since  the                                                                    
advent of Tier 4 in  the retirement system. He discussed the                                                                    
expense of  training new  employees, and  the impact  on the                                                                    
department.  He  had  seen other  Alaskan  fire  departments                                                                    
experiencing   the  same   problems  with   recruitment  and                                                                    
retention of employees.                                                                                                         
3:36:28 PM                                                                                                                    
RANDY   GRIFFIN,  SELF,   FAIRBANKS  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of a  draw on the earnings  reserve of                                                                    
the Permanent  Fund. He had  donated his PFD to  the General                                                                    
Fund in  previous years. He  did not support an  income tax.                                                                    
He supported further budget cuts.                                                                                               
3:38:42 PM                                                                                                                    
KATE   RIPLEY,  UAF   ALUMNI  ASSOCIATION,   FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified  in support of funding  UA at the                                                                    
level  recommended by  the House  Finance Subcommittee.  She                                                                    
thought   that  investment   in  the   University  generated                                                                    
additional revenue of $1 billion  per year in the state. She                                                                    
considered that  the University was an  economic driver that                                                                    
trained and  educated citizens.  She discussed  graduates of                                                                    
the University  system, who relied less  on other government                                                                    
safety-net services  and stayed out of  the criminal justice                                                                    
system.  She discussed  arctic  research.  She referenced  a                                                                    
study by the  alumni association, that found  that 37,000 of                                                                    
the registered voters in Alaska  were UA alumni. She thought                                                                    
UA  President  James Johnsen  had  correctly  stated that  a                                                                    
great state needed a great university.                                                                                          
3:41:12 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
4:02:00 PM                                                                                                                    
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: OFF NET SITES                                                                                              
4:02:06 PM                                                                                                                    
RON   JOHNSON,   SELF,   FAIRBANKS   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
commented  on the  Permanent Fund  Dividend. He  thought the                                                                    
legislature had  assigned 33 percent  of the  Permanent Fund                                                                    
earnings to the PFD. Instead,  he suggested reducing the PFD                                                                    
amount  to  $800  and  using the  savings  to  increase  the                                                                    
Department of  Health and Social Services'  budget. It would                                                                    
benefit people  in need. Also,  he urged the  legislature to                                                                    
ramp down  the total  operating budget,  as the  state could                                                                    
not afford to  spend the way it had  previously. He referred                                                                    
to  a previous  caller who  made comments  about HB  83 that                                                                    
would  allow  new  state  employees   a  choice  of  defined                                                                    
benefits. He was not opposed  to allowing new people to have                                                                    
defined benefits.  However, if the  state did so, a  plan to                                                                    
ensure  a   reasonable  rate  of   return  on   the  state's                                                                    
investments  was  necessary.  He   was  concerned  with  the                                                                    
possibility  of increasing  the state's  unfunded liability,                                                                    
as the state  was already behind in its  funding. He pointed                                                                    
out that there were large  budget drivers: Health and Social                                                                    
Services,  education,  and  the   PFD.  He  thought  it  was                                                                    
necessary to control  these costs if the state  was going to                                                                    
solve  its   long-term  budget   problem.  He   thanked  the                                                                    
4:04:49 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF   BENOWITZ,  SELF,   FAIRBANKS  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
encouraged  the  legislature  to  support  the  full  budget                                                                    
request from the  University of Alaska Board  of Regents. He                                                                    
thought  of the  university  system as  a  mutual fund:  Not                                                                    
everyone would  agree with  every stock  purchased, however,                                                                    
investing in an  index fund would bring  greater returns. He                                                                    
wanted the  University to be careful  about increasing fees.                                                                    
He thanked members for their service.                                                                                           
Co-Chair Seaton relayed that the  committee would take a 10-                                                                    
minute break. If no one called  in by 4:30 p.m. he would end                                                                    
public testimony.                                                                                                               
4:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
4:17:01 PM                                                                                                                    
4:17:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CINDY  WRIGHT,  UAF  ALUMNI  BOARD  MEMBER,  FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  favor   of  the  funding  level                                                                    
supported by the House Finance  Committee sought funding for                                                                    
the University  of Alaska. She  was a representative  of the                                                                    
UAF Alumni  Board of Directors. She  earned an undergraduate                                                                    
degree  in education  in  1988.  She thanked  Representative                                                                    
Wool for  his amendment  to increase  the investment  in the                                                                    
University.  She  asserted  that  the  University  generated                                                                    
revenues  of about  $1 billion  each year.  She thought  the                                                                    
university was an economic driver  by training and educating                                                                    
Alaska's citizens.  She relayed  that UAF was  the worldwide                                                                    
leader  in  arctic  research,  something  to  be  proud  of.                                                                    
Approximately  37,000 of  the  registered  voters in  Alaska                                                                    
were UAF  alumni. They stayed  in the state,  contributed to                                                                    
their  communities, bought  or  built  homes, paid  property                                                                    
taxes, raised  families, and  ran businesses.  Students that                                                                    
leave  the state  for college  often  do not  return to  the                                                                    
state.  President Johnson  had  stated,  "Great states  have                                                                    
great universities." She thanked the committee.                                                                                 
Co-Chair    Seaton   recognized    Representative   Kawasaki                                                                    
listening online.                                                                                                               
4:19:41 PM                                                                                                                    
ALAN  BACKFORD,   SELF,  DILLINGHAM   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
thought  the  state  and  federal  governments  were  having                                                                    
financial problems  due to abortion  and similar  things. He                                                                    
advocated for  removing abortion from Medicaid  benefits. He                                                                    
quoted from the Bible. He thanked the committee.                                                                                
Co-Chair  Seaton  indicated  there  was  no  one  online  to                                                                    
testify. The committee would take a break until 4:30 PM.                                                                        
4:21:01 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
4:31:12 PM                                                                                                                    
KALEEN LAMB, SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference), asked to                                                                    
keep [inaudible] in  the operating budget, as  it would help                                                                    
 4:33:03 PM                                                                                                                   
BROTHER TOM  PATMOR, SELF, CLAM GULCH  (via teleconference),                                                                    
stated that since  a large percentage of  the state's budget                                                                    
would most  likely be funded  with money from  the Permanent                                                                    
Fund and  since most Alaskans  were opposed to  the draining                                                                    
of  the fund,  he advocated  giving  the fund  some form  of                                                                    
collateral.  He  suggested  either  to  consider  the  money                                                                    
involved a loan  or an outright sale of some  of the state's                                                                    
resources.  Some  of the  resources  were  costing money  to                                                                    
maintain or  were not  being used by  the public.  He stated                                                                    
that  the Dalton  Highway cost  the state  approximately $20                                                                    
million per year  to maintain. If the  Alaska Permanent Fund                                                                    
Corporation owned it,  the corporation could make  it a toll                                                                    
road  and  lease or  sell  lots  alongside it  for  traveler                                                                    
convenience. He  provided other examples of  state resources                                                                    
being owned by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation.                                                                           
Co-Chair  Seaton  relayed that  since  there  were no  other                                                                    
testifiers online  and it  was after 4:30  p.m. he  would be                                                                    
adjourning the meeting for the  day. He relayed that written                                                                    
testimony  could  be   submitted  to  housefinance@akleg.gov                                                                    
through  1:00  p.m, Saturday,  March  3,  2018. He  reminded                                                                    
members that  amendments to HB 285  and HB 286 were  due the                                                                    
Legislative  Finance Division  via the  amendment system  by                                                                    
5:00 p.m., Saturday, March 3,  2018. Members were encouraged                                                                    
to submit  amendments before that deadline.  He reviewed the                                                                    
agenda for the following meeting.                                                                                               
HB  285  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
HB  286  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
4:36:53 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 4:36 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 286 OpBudget PubTest 3.1.18.pdf HFIN 3/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 286