Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS ROOM 519

02/19/2020 05:00 PM FINANCE

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05:07:29 PM Start
05:07:52 PM HB205 || HB206
05:10:58 PM Public Testimony: Juneau
06:58:04 PM Public Testimony: Sitka, Petersburg, Delta Junction, Unalaska, Dillingham, Glennallen, Tok
07:41:37 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
5:00 - 6:30 p.m. * Juneau
6:45 - 8:00 p.m. * Sitka, Petersburg, Delta
Junction, Unalaska, Dillingham, Glennallen & Tok
5:00 - 8:00 p.m. * Off Net
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housefinance@akleg.gov by 5:00 pm on 2/22/20
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                     February 19, 2020                                                                                          
                         5:07 p.m.                                                                                              
5:07:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 5:07 p.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Jennifer Johnston, Co-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Kelly Merrick                                                                                                    
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Brian  Wilson,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Coalition  on                                                                    
Housing  and   Homeless,  Juneau;  Alex   Wertheimer,  Self,                                                                    
Juneau;  Rodney  Dial,  Mayor,  Ketchikan  Gateway  Borough,                                                                    
Juneau;  Patrick Anderson,  Chief  Executive Officer,  Rural                                                                    
Alaska  Community  Action  Program, Juneau;  Jessica  Parks,                                                                    
Rural Alaska Community Action  Program, Juneau; Robert Marx,                                                                    
Rural Alaska  Community Action Program, Juneau;  John Wynne,                                                                    
Self, Juneau;  Katie Botz, Self,  Juneau; Paul  Kelly, Self,                                                                    
Juneau; Sol  Neely, Self, Juneau; Mila  Neely, Self, Juneau;                                                                    
Deedie  Sorensen,  Self,  Juneau;  Jon  Erickson,  City  and                                                                    
Borough of Yakutat, Juneau; Jeff  Short, Self, Juneau; Brian                                                                    
Holst,  Self,  Juneau;  Michael Starr,  Self,  Juneau;  Lori                                                                    
Thomson,   Self,  Juneau;   Erin  Walker-Tolles,   Executive                                                                    
Director, Catholic  Community Services, Juneau;  Anne Baily,                                                                    
Administrator,  Aleutians  East   Borough;  Angela  Simpson,                                                                    
Administrator, City  of Cold Bay, Juneau;  John Rozzi, Board                                                                    
Chair, Mat-Su  Coalition on  Housing and  Homelessness; Dave                                                                    
Rose,   Coordinator,  Mat-Su   Coalition   on  Housing   and                                                                    
Homelesness;  Emily  Ferry,  Self,  Juneau;  Kristin  Garot,                                                                    
Self,  Juneau;  Jamiann  Hasselquist, Self,  Juneau;  Pamela                                                                    
Watts,    KTOO    Community    Advisory    Board,    Juneau;                                                                    
Representative Andi Story; Representative Sara Hannan.                                                                          
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Dan   Dunaway,   self,   Dillingham;   Tom   Abbott,   Self,                                                                    
Petersburg; Clare Jaeger,     Tolsona              Community                                                                    
Corporation,    Copper   Valley    Development   Association                                                                    
Glennallen;   Rebecca  Himschoot,   Self,  Sitka;   Collauna                                                                    
Marley, self, Sitka; Teisha  Simmons, Self, Fairbanks; Vikki                                                                    
Jo  Kennedy, Self,  Juneau;  Rod  Catron, Self,  Metlakatla;                                                                    
Janell  Manchester, Self,  Fairbanks;  Herman Morgan,  Self,                                                                    
Aniak; Nelson Cellarius, Self,  Chitina; Ashley Woods, Self,                                                                    
Fairbanks; Patricia Dick, Self, Sitka.                                                                                          
HB 205      APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                
            HB 205 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                          
            further consideration.                                                                                              
HB 206      APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                        
            HB 206 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                          
            further consideration.                                                                                              
Co-Chair Foster  reviewed the  meeting agenda.  He explained                                                                    
the  public  testimony  process  and  provided  the  call-in                                                                    
number and House Finance Committee email address.                                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 205                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain    programs;    capitalizing   funds;    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."                                                                         
HOUSE BILL NO. 206                                                                                                            
     "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."                                                                                                        
5:07:52 PM                                                                                                                    
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: JUNEAU                                                                                                     
5:10:58 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster OPENED public testimony.                                                                                        
5:12:25 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN  WILSON,  EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR,  ALASKA  COALITION  ON                                                                    
HOUSING  AND  HOMELESS,  JUNEAU,  testified  in  support  of                                                                    
funding  for the  Alaska Homeless  Assistance Program  Fund,                                                                    
which  had been  cut by  45 percent  in the  previous budget                                                                    
cycle  after   the  governor's   vetoes.  The   program  was                                                                    
traditionally  funded at  the $7.8  million  level, and  the                                                                    
coalition asked for  funding to be restored  to the original                                                                    
amount.  He  informed  that the  program  paid  for  crucial                                                                    
emergency  shelter  beds,  and  highly  successful  homeless                                                                    
prevention programs. He cited  statistics that 95 percent of                                                                    
individuals  that  accessed  homeless prevention  funds  the                                                                    
previous year  did not return  to homelessness.  He informed                                                                    
that  there  had  been  an   immediate  increase  in  people                                                                    
experiencing unsheltered homelessness  when funding was cut.                                                                    
He  discussed  the impact  of  homelessness.  He noted  that                                                                    
federal  dollars  were   compromised.  He  referenced  three                                                                    
legislative  priorities  of  the  coalition  that  he  would                                                                    
provide to the committee (copy on file).                                                                                        
5:14:37 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Sullivan-Leonard   asked  Mr.   Wilson   to                                                                    
elaborate  on  the  fiscal impact  on  the  Juneau  homeless                                                                    
Mr. Wilson  stated that  the program was  cut by  45 percent                                                                    
the previous  year, and the  funds were administered  by the                                                                    
Alaska Housing  Finance Corporation (AHFC).  The corporation                                                                    
had  been able  to  shift $2  million  from another  program                                                                    
grant to  lessen the impact,  but all of  the direct-service                                                                    
Housing Assistance  Program providers received a  20 percent                                                                    
cut in funding.                                                                                                                 
Representative Sullivan-Leonard asked for a dollar amount.                                                                      
Mr. Wilson  stated that funding  had gone from  $7.8 million                                                                    
down to $6.55 million.                                                                                                          
Representative Knopp  discussed the previous year's  cuts to                                                                    
the  program. He  asked about  the proposed  budget for  the                                                                    
Mr.  Wilson  stated  that  there  was  a  proposed  to  $7.3                                                                    
million,   but  the   amount   was   still  $500,000   below                                                                    
traditional funding levels.                                                                                                     
Representative Knopp estimated that  funding for the program                                                                    
had increased from the previous year.                                                                                           
Mr. Wilson stated that the  $2 million that had been shifted                                                                    
from the  Special Needs Housing  Grant were moved  back into                                                                    
the Homeless Assistance Program.  In the governor's proposed                                                                    
budget, funding was at $7.3 million.                                                                                            
Co-Chair  Foster  recalled  that the  Alaska  Mental  Health                                                                    
Trust Authority  (AMHTA) Board  had requested  $8.15 million                                                                    
for  the program.  He believed  the program  had a  proposed                                                                    
$8.15  million   in  the  mental  health   budget  committee                                                                    
substitute that was presented earlier in the day.                                                                               
5:17:18 PM                                                                                                                    
ALEX  WERTHEIMER, SELF,  JUNEAU, supported  restored funding                                                                    
for the Alaska Marine  Highway System (AMHS), the University                                                                    
of  Alaska (UA).  He  also  supported no  more  cuts to  the                                                                    
Department  of Fish  and Game  management  and research.  He                                                                    
supported full funding for  Pre-K education, K-12 education,                                                                    
and  public broadcasting.  He  had lived  in  Alaska for  50                                                                    
years. He  discussed recent budget cuts  and considered that                                                                    
He thought  the state  need a sustainable  budget, including                                                                    
dedicating   Permanent  Fund   earnings  to   support  state                                                                    
government. He supported a progressive  income tax, which he                                                                    
thought was  not a  radical idea. He  noted that  many other                                                                    
states as well  as the federal government  imposed an income                                                                    
5:19:37 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY DIAL,  MAYOR, KETCHIKAN  GATEWAY BOROUGH,  JUNEAU, He                                                                    
mentioned cuts,  cost-shifting to local governments,  use of                                                                    
Permanent Fund earnings, and talk  of new taxes. He had seen                                                                    
little to no discussion on  the structural changes needed to                                                                    
make  the budget  sustainable. He  thought that  citizens in                                                                    
one  half of  the state  paid  millions in  taxes while  the                                                                    
other half  paid almost nothing  and received  free services                                                                    
and  lifetime welfare.  He thought  the disparate  treatment                                                                    
was grossly  unfair. He asked  the legislature  to encourage                                                                    
borough  formation,  end  discriminatory taxation  based  on                                                                    
residence,  and  end  lifetime   welfare  which  he  thought                                                                    
existed  in over  150 Alaskan  communities. He  thought with                                                                    
more people  contributing, the state  would have  more money                                                                    
for services and protect the PFD.                                                                                               
5:21:49 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Knopp   asked  if   Mr.  Dial   supported  a                                                                    
Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD).                                                                                                  
Mr. Dial personally  supported use of his PFD  if the budget                                                                    
were  sustainable. He  referenced  the Southeast  Conference                                                                    
that he had recently attended.  He had heard various amounts                                                                    
referenced as a "sustainable PFD."  He was concerned that if                                                                    
the PFD  had gone from  $3074 to  $500, then the  budget was                                                                    
not sustainable,  and the PFD  would continue to  shrink. He                                                                    
advocated for all regions of  the state that could afford to                                                                    
contribute   (like  the   organized   boroughs  did)   would                                                                    
Representative  Knopp asked  about Mr.  Dial's remark  about                                                                    
"discriminatory taxes."                                                                                                         
Mr. Dial  discussed required  local contribution,  which was                                                                    
imposed   upon  organized   boroughs  but   not  unorganized                                                                    
boroughs.  He  thought  required local  contribution  was  a                                                                    
mandatory  state   tax  that  was  imposed   upon  organized                                                                    
boroughs but  not unorganized boroughs. He  pointed out that                                                                    
additionally,  organized  boroughs  were required  to  fully                                                                    
fund school construction  and maintenance; while unorganized                                                                    
had schools maintained and constructed for free.                                                                                
5:24:18 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  ANDERSON,  CHIEF  EXECUTIVE OFFICER,  RURAL  ALASKA                                                                    
COMMUNITY  ACTION PROGRAM,  JUNEAU, spoke  in support  // He                                                                    
explained  that the  Rural Alaska  Community Action  Program                                                                    
(Rural  CAP) was  the community  action agency  charged with                                                                    
addressing  the  root  causes   of  poverty.  He  encouraged                                                                    
flexibility  in  the  way  budgets  were  done  for  program                                                                    
designed  to   address  the  excess  of   Adverse  Childhood                                                                    
Experiences (ACES). He stated that  Rural CAP had found that                                                                    
in rural Alaska  many of the policies of the  state were not                                                                    
matched  on the  healing  side with  the  punitive side.  He                                                                    
noted  that  Rural  CAP  was  opening  a  domestic  violence                                                                    
shelter Hooper  Bay, Scammon Bay, and  Chevak. He referenced                                                                    
United  States  Attorney  General William  Barr's  visit  to                                                                    
rural Alaska,  and the attorney general's  concern with high                                                                    
crime  rates  and lack  of  Village  Public Safety  Officers                                                                    
(VPSO)  in rural  Alaska. He  noted  that 80  percent to  90                                                                    
percent  of  crimes  adjudicated   in  Hooper  Bay  were  in                                                                    
domestic violence.                                                                                                              
Mr.  Anderson  discussed  ACES as  the  result  of  domestic                                                                    
violence  and   incarceration.  He  considered   the  inter-                                                                    
generational  trauma in  the  Alaska  Native population.  He                                                                    
cited statistics  that indicated individuals with  up to six                                                                    
ACES  had an  average of  a  20-year shorter  life span.  He                                                                    
thought  policies focused  on  incarceration and  punishment                                                                    
should include  funding for innovative and  creative ways to                                                                    
address childhood  trauma. He furthered  that Rural  CAP was                                                                    
asking the  state's concretional delegation for  funding. He                                                                    
wanted  consideration  of  using  discretionary  funding  to                                                                    
match   programming  in   the  interest   of  children.   He                                                                    
reiterated his call for innovative and creative thinking.                                                                       
Co-Chair Foster  asked about  the domestic  violence shelter                                                                    
mentioned by Mr. Anderson.                                                                                                      
Mr. Anderson noted that Chevak,  Scammon Bay, and Hooper Bay                                                                    
were all served by the same domestic violence shelter.                                                                          
5:28:35 PM                                                                                                                    
JESSICA  PARKS,  RURAL   ALASKA  COMMUNITY  ACTION  PROGRAM,                                                                    
JUNEAU, testified  in support of  funding for  mental health                                                                    
services. She  noted that Rural  CAP adopted  a breakthrough                                                                    
initiative  using a  community-driven model  that identified                                                                    
root  causes to  decrease health  disparities and  break the                                                                    
cycle of poverty. She asserted  that funding for the Suicide                                                                    
Awareness Prevention Program,  re-entry services through the                                                                    
Department  of Corrections,  and increased  Medicaid funding                                                                    
for  mental health  services was  necessary  to address  the                                                                    
issue. She  cited that  Alaska children  were 56  times more                                                                    
likely  to be  abused  than the  national  average, and  the                                                                    
suicide rate for  Alaska Natives was four times  that of the                                                                    
national  suicide  rate.  She relayed  that  rural  Alaskans                                                                    
experienced  a  poverty  of   access  to  locally  available                                                                    
healthcare,   inadequate  support   for  behavioral   health                                                                    
services and  stress management.  She noted that  there were                                                                    
no licensed  professional counselors in remote  areas, and a                                                                    
lack of  addiction recovery services. She  thought investing                                                                    
funds  in  innovating  programs that  produced  results  was                                                                    
investing long-term solutions instead of treating symptoms.                                                                     
5:30:08 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT MARX, RURAL ALASKA  COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM, JUNEAU,                                                                    
supported  maintained funding  for  the Homeless  Assistance                                                                    
Program and  fully funding the Special  Needs Housing Grant.                                                                    
He  had  worked at  Rural  CAP  for  almost nine  years.  He                                                                    
recalled that  Karluk Manor opened  in 2001. He  stated that                                                                    
Karluk Manor had 10 tenants  that still resided after moving                                                                    
in  when  the  facility   opened.  He  summarized  that  the                                                                    
"housing  first"   model  was   effective  as  a   means  of                                                                    
addressing  homelessness.  He  stressed  that  more  housing                                                                    
opportunities were needed throughout  the state. He asserted                                                                    
that  funding  the  Homeless   Assistance  Program  and  the                                                                    
Special  Needs Housing  Grant would  help continue  projects                                                                    
already  assisting vulnerable  Alaskans to  obtain and  keep                                                                    
housing. He asked  the committee to consider  that there was                                                                    
a  lesser-known  crisis  in  the  state:  housing  in  rural                                                                    
Alaska.  He discussed  severe overcrowding  in rural  areas,                                                                    
which  did not  meet  many definitions  of homelessness.  He                                                                    
emphasized  that  the state  would  see  many benefits  from                                                                    
investing in safe and adequate housing for Alaskans.                                                                            
Co-Chair  Foster  asked  about  the  Special  Needs  Housing                                                                    
Grant, and  whether it was  part of the  Homeless Assistance                                                                    
Mr. Marx  stated that the grant  was a separate line  in the                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster  asked how much  was in the  proposed budget                                                                    
for the grant and how  the governor's budget compared to the                                                                    
previous year.                                                                                                                  
Mr. Marx  recalled that  the latest  funding amount  for the                                                                    
grant was  $1.7 million.  He pointed out  that in  2009, the                                                                    
number was  $1.75 million. He  cited that by  the Department                                                                    
of  Labor and  Workforce  Development inflation  calculator,                                                                    
there had been a 27 percent decrease.                                                                                           
5:33:52 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  WYNNE,  SELF,  JUNEAU, spoke  in  favor  of  restoring                                                                    
funding to the  Alaska Marine Highway System  (AMHS). He was                                                                    
a former  legislator of Washington  State. He  had relatives                                                                    
and  friends in  Southeast Alaska.  He discussed  a personal                                                                    
anecdote relating  to missed family  obligations due  to the                                                                    
lack  of  ferry service  as  a  result  of budget  cuts.  He                                                                    
discussed community needs for  ferry services. He referenced                                                                    
a  recent report  on  the  AMHS, which  he  thought had  not                                                                    
considered  the trade  and exchange  between Alaska  and the                                                                    
Yukon Territory.  He discussed  a historical map  of Klukwan                                                                    
and the  southeast portion of  the Yukon Territory,  and the                                                                    
history of trade in the region.                                                                                                 
5:36:22 PM                                                                                                                    
KATIE BOTZ,  SELF, JUNEAU, testified  in support  of funding                                                                    
for  mental  health  services. She  discussed  her  personal                                                                    
experience  and  challenges  with mental  illness.  She  had                                                                    
written emails  to members. She stressed  the important role                                                                    
of  legislators  in helping  to  end  the stigma  of  mental                                                                    
illness  by  supporting  funding   for  mental  health.  She                                                                    
experienced profound  deafness. She did not  think the state                                                                    
had a  revenue problem, but  rather a priority  problem. She                                                                    
asked how members wanted to see Alaska's future.                                                                                
5:41:06 PM                                                                                                                    
PAUL KELLY,  SELF, JUNEAU, testified  in support  of funding                                                                    
for education and the AMHS. He  was a state employee. He was                                                                    
a  third-generation Alaskan.  He was  a graduate  student at                                                                    
the  University of  Alaska. He  was a  member of  the Juneau                                                                    
Board  of   Education.  He  thought  teachers,   staff,  and                                                                    
administration  were  increasingly  burdened.  He  supported                                                                    
passage of  HB 236 to  increase the Base  Student Allocation                                                                    
(BSA) for  the next two years.  He was worried that  cuts to                                                                    
UA  were  unsustainable   and  threatened  the  University's                                                                    
future.  He  supported  funding for  ferries.  He  supported                                                                    
allowing the  moratorium on  school bond  debt reimbursement                                                                    
to expire.  He was  chair of  the school  board's facilities                                                                    
committee  and could  attest that  many schools  were under-                                                                    
maintained.  He supported  a sustainable  source of  revenue                                                                    
for the state.                                                                                                                  
5:44:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SOL NEELY, SELF, JUNEAU, testified  in opposition to austere                                                                    
budget cuts.  He was  an associate  professor of  English at                                                                    
the  University of  Alaska Southeast.  He asserted  that the                                                                    
previous year's budget was devastating  to the community. He                                                                    
discussed  the   impacts  of  the  previous   year's  budget                                                                    
submitted  by  the  governor.  He  mentioned  care  for  the                                                                    
elderly,  deferred  maintenance,  neglected  infrastructure,                                                                    
less  treatment  options  for  substance  abuse  and  mental                                                                    
health    issues,    crime,    homelessness,    the    AMHS,                                                                    
municipalities  and villages  struggling for  stability, and                                                                    
declining  support for  education. He  had started  a prison                                                                    
education program that became  a re-entry effort. He chaired                                                                    
the  site  council  at  Gastineau  School  and  worked  with                                                                    
advocacy groups across the state.  He had seen many negative                                                                    
impacts of  the previous  year's budget cuts.  He referenced                                                                    
the words of American  theologian Jim Wallace, that asserted                                                                    
that  a budget  was a  moral document  that expressed  moral                                                                    
priorities. He thought  the state had no  shortage of wealth                                                                    
or resources, but that the  state was mismanaging its wealth                                                                    
in the interest of outside  special interest such as oil and                                                                    
gas tax  credits. He  thought the state  had a  problem with                                                                    
5:46:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MILA NEELY,  SELF, JUNEAU, testified  in support  of funding                                                                    
for  education and  the AMHS.  She was  born in  Juneau. She                                                                    
asked  the committee  to support  public  education and  the                                                                    
AMHS. She asserted  that the budget would  change and affect                                                                    
her future. She  questioned why funds were spent  on oil and                                                                    
gas tax  credits while ferry  service and  education funding                                                                    
were reduced. She  was a citizen of the  Cherokee Nation and                                                                    
wanted  a  budget  that protected  Native  communities.  She                                                                    
asked the members to have courage.                                                                                              
5:48:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DEEDIE SORENSEN,  SELF, JUNEAU, spoke in  favor of increased                                                                    
funding for education.  She had lived in  Juneau since 1981,                                                                    
when  she  came  from  Montana to  be  a  special  education                                                                    
teacher. She  described teacher pay differences  between the                                                                    
two states.  She asserted that  the state had a  shortage of                                                                    
special  education   teachers.  She  discussed   salary  and                                                                    
benefit advantages in Montana.  She suggested that the state                                                                    
needed to invest  in education, or there would be  no one to                                                                    
teach. She was a member of  the Juneau School Board. She was                                                                    
deeply concerned  about the state's  ability to  attract and                                                                    
retain highly qualified teachers.                                                                                               
5:50:44 PM                                                                                                                    
JON ERICKSON, MANAGER, CITY AND  BOROUGH OF YAKUTAT, JUNEAU,                                                                    
spoke  in  favor  of increased  funding  for  the  Community                                                                    
Assistance  Program and  the AMHS.  He relayed  that revenue                                                                    
sharing  was about  10  percent of  the  Yakutat budget.  He                                                                    
discussed the  reduction in ferry  trips to Yakutat  and the                                                                    
hardship imposed.                                                                                                               
Representative Sullivan-Leonard asked  for a ballpark figure                                                                    
of how much revenue sharing was part of the Yakutat budget.                                                                     
Mr. Erickson stated  that the total budget  for the previous                                                                    
year was  $2 million,  and the  revenue sharing  portion had                                                                    
been $260,000.                                                                                                                  
5:53:13 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  SHORT, SELF,  JUNEAU, spoke  in support  of increasing                                                                    
the  BSA as  outlined in  HB  236. He  was a  member of  the                                                                    
Juneau School  Board. He had  lived in Alaska for  50 years.                                                                    
He  supported  maintaining  the  previous  year's  education                                                                    
funding  as well  as  inflation-proofing.  He discussed  the                                                                    
decline in  oil prices  since 2014  and thought  the revenue                                                                    
decrease placed  stress on workforce,  particularly families                                                                    
with  children. He  cited a  38 percent  increase in  use of                                                                    
free and  reduced lunches  due to  increased poverty  in the                                                                    
school   system.   He   discussed  evidence   of   increased                                                                    
demographic diversity in Juneau's  schools, which he thought                                                                    
required  more  resources  to address  a  greater  range  of                                                                    
needs. He  discussed inflation. He cited  that the Anchorage                                                                    
CPI  had increased  from  2007  to the  present  time by  25                                                                    
percent; yet the  BSA had only increased by  10 percent over                                                                    
the same  period of  time. He  asserted that  the difference                                                                    
required an increase  in the BSA by $760 to  get back to the                                                                    
purchasing  power of  2007. He  thought the  $30 million  in                                                                    
additional funding from the previous  year would cover about                                                                    
one-third  of the  shortfall. He  summarized that  education                                                                    
had greater needs and fewer resources.                                                                                          
5:56:23 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN  HOLST,  SELF, JUNEAU,  spoke  in  favor of  increased                                                                    
funding for public education. He  was director of the Juneau                                                                    
Economic  Development  Council  and  the  president  of  the                                                                    
Juneau School Board. He asserted  that the statutory BSA was                                                                    
not adequate.  He reported that  the Juneau  School District                                                                    
(JSD)  had 92  fewer staff  than in  2011. He  discussed the                                                                    
dramatic increase in healthcare  costs. He supported funding                                                                    
for Pre-K education,  and support for reading.  He asked for                                                                    
no  unfunded mandates.  He discussed  the  School Bond  Debt                                                                    
Reimbursement  Program and  asked  to restart  and fund  the                                                                    
program. He supported additional funding for the AMHS.                                                                          
Representative Merrick  noted that  there was a  decrease in                                                                    
the  number of  students in  the Anchorage  area. She  asked                                                                    
about the population trend in JSD.                                                                                              
Mr. Holst cited that there was  a slight decrease of about 6                                                                    
percent in the student population in Juneau since 2011.                                                                         
5:59:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  STARR,  SELF,  JUNEAU,   testified  in  support  of                                                                    
funding for AMHS.  He discussed the importance  of the ferry                                                                    
system   in  connecting   communities.  He   mentioned  food                                                                    
shortages in  Angoon. He thought  the lack of  ferry service                                                                    
was unacceptable.  He thought it  was only a matter  of time                                                                    
before the lack  of ferry service resulted in  loss of life.                                                                    
He urged the committee to restore funding for the AMHS.                                                                         
6:00:52 PM                                                                                                                    
LORI THOMSON,  SELF, JUNEAU, spoke  in support  of increased                                                                    
funding  for  education. She  was  a  co-facilitator of  the                                                                    
Harborview Elementary School Site  Council. She spoke to the                                                                    
$30  million that  did not  get included  in the  governor's                                                                    
budget and strongly encouraged the  committee to restore the                                                                    
funds.  She emphasized  that schools  had been  dealing with                                                                    
cuts for several years and  schools were thinly staffed. She                                                                    
had attended  a district-wide budget meeting,  at which time                                                                    
elementary  budgets had  been discussed.  She discussed  the                                                                    
workload of a principal that  served multiple schools in the                                                                    
district. She referenced a  problem with substitute teachers                                                                    
because of low pay.                                                                                                             
Representative  LeBon had  served  on  the Fairbanks  School                                                                    
Board and  Fairbanks had also  experienced a  challenge with                                                                    
substitute teachers. He asked about substitute pay.                                                                             
Ms. Thomson did not have the information.                                                                                       
6:04:49 PM                                                                                                                    
ERIN WALKER-TOLLES,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  CATHOLIC COMMUNITY                                                                    
SERVICES, JUNEAU,  supported funding for seniors  and abused                                                                    
children.  She  was  a  26-year   resident  of  Alaska.  She                                                                    
encouraged investment in  lower-cost early interventions for                                                                    
vulnerable  Alaskans. She  detailed that  Catholic Community                                                                    
Services (CCS)  operated 11  senior centers  and appreciated                                                                    
state,  local,  and  tribal  support  for  meals  and  rides                                                                    
programs as  well as support  services and  case management.                                                                    
She discussed  services as  a means  of keeping  seniors in-                                                                    
home rather  than in an  institution. She cited  that Alaska                                                                    
had the fastest-growing senior population  of any state, but                                                                    
CCS had  not seen an increase  in funding in some  time. She                                                                    
discussed  underfunding for  non-medical services  that were                                                                    
important  for keeping  seniors  independent. She  discussed                                                                    
the  Safe Child  Advocacy Center,  which conducted  forensic                                                                    
interviews  at  the  behest  of  the  Office  of  Children's                                                                    
Services. She urged  the committee to consider  the needs of                                                                    
child victims of sex trafficking,  sexual abuse, and trauma.                                                                    
She emphasized  that early  interventions for  children that                                                                    
experienced  abuse and  neglect  would  result in  long-term                                                                    
cost savings for the state.                                                                                                     
6:07:59 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNE   BAILY,   ADMINISTRATOR,   ALEUTIANS   EAST   BOROUGH,                                                                    
testified in support of reinstating  funding for school bond                                                                    
debt reimbursement.  She stated  that the borough  paid more                                                                    
than  its obligation  as well  as more  than its  portion of                                                                    
school bond  yet. The borough had  a small tax base  to draw                                                                    
from yet  had always  done its part.  When the  district had                                                                    
voted on  the bond, it  was recognized that the  state would                                                                    
pick up 60 to 70 percent of  school bond debt. In FY 20, the                                                                    
borough  had expected  to receive  over  $650,000 in  school                                                                    
bond   debt  reimbursement   from  the   state,  which   was                                                                    
approximately 13 percent of  the borough's operating budget.                                                                    
The borough had  lost 50 percent of state bond  debt as well                                                                    
as 100  percent of the  harbor bond debt which  had resulted                                                                    
in a  loss of approximately $600,000  in anticipated borough                                                                    
revenue. She asserted that the  cost shift and other revenue                                                                    
changes in the region had  impacted the borough's ability to                                                                    
meet  mandated  requirements  to  fund  education,  to  fund                                                                    
transportation  links,   to  maintain  facilities,   and  to                                                                    
connect capital  projects. The  borough was  actively trying                                                                    
to address the budget shortfalls.                                                                                               
Co-Chair Foster asked  if the $600,000 was  a combination of                                                                    
school  bond  debt and  harbor  bond  debt. He  asked  about                                                                    
property taxes.                                                                                                                 
Ms.  Baily  answered in  the  affirmative.  stated that  the                                                                    
borough did  not have a  property tax, and was  solely based                                                                    
on fish tax, which was  volatile. The borough was looking at                                                                    
other avenues for revenue.                                                                                                      
6:10:42 PM                                                                                                                    
ANGELA  SIMPSON, ADMINISTRATOR,  CITY OF  COLD BAY,  JUNEAU,                                                                    
testified in support of funding  for an Alaska State Trooper                                                                    
(AST) post  in Cold  Bay. There was  no trooper  presence in                                                                    
the  region,  and Cold  Bay  was  a  hub community  for  the                                                                    
Aleutians.  She  urged  the committee  to  restore  adequate                                                                    
funding for the local government specialist in Cold Bay.                                                                        
Representative   Sullivan-Leonard   referenced   the   local                                                                    
government  specialist,   which  came  from   Department  of                                                                    
Commerce,  Community  and  Economic Development.  She  asked                                                                    
about the  activities of the specialist,  and for commentary                                                                    
on what it was like without the position in place.                                                                              
Ms.  Simpson stated  that  the  local government  specialist                                                                    
provided  assistance and  oversight if  the city  amended or                                                                    
drafted ordinances, or with questions  on local budgets. She                                                                    
had asked for  help with an ordinance a  year previously and                                                                    
had  still not  received  help. She  had  been through  five                                                                    
government specialists.  She had  been told  that government                                                                    
specialists  were unable  to complete  the local  government                                                                    
specialist activities due to other duties.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Foster asked how  many local government specialists                                                                    
were in place as compared to several years previously.                                                                          
Ms. Simpson did not have  information on the number of local                                                                    
government specialists.  She commented on the  high turnover                                                                    
rate of the position. She  mentioned one specialist that was                                                                    
responsible for 135 communities.                                                                                                
6:14:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Josephson asked  about the  area covered  by                                                                    
the AST position.                                                                                                               
Ms.  Simpson understood  that the  previous trooper  covered                                                                    
the entire  Aleutians including  Nelson Lagoon,  False Pass,                                                                    
King  Cove, Sand  Point, and  on down  the chain.  She noted                                                                    
that the community called Dillingham  and was routed through                                                                    
Anchorage when there was a problem.                                                                                             
Representative  Josephson  discussed  trooper  dispatch  and                                                                    
gleaned that it was a difficult situation.                                                                                      
Ms.  Simpson  detailed  that  the   city  was  to  call  the                                                                    
Dillingham  AST   post,  but  the  trooper   was  placed  in                                                                    
6:16:07 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  ROZZI, BOARD  CHAIR, MAT-SU  COALITION ON  HOUSING AND                                                                    
HOMELESSNESS,  supported increased  funding for  the Housing                                                                    
Assistance  Program  Grant.  He   referenced  a  95  percent                                                                    
success  rate  in  keeping  people  in  homes  and  avoiding                                                                    
homelessness.  He  emphasized  that the  grant  was  helping                                                                    
people that were making 30  percent or less than the average                                                                    
median  income, such  as a  family of  four that  was making                                                                    
$32,000 per year. He emphasized  that there was a great need                                                                    
in the  state for  the program. He  thought the  program had                                                                    
saved  the  state money.  If  the  program did  not  provide                                                                    
prevention   services,   then   costs   would   dramatically                                                                    
increase. He  stated that  past funds  had been  wisely used                                                                    
and urged continued funding of the program.                                                                                     
6:18:31 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Johnston  asked about  the choice  between offering                                                                    
grants  versus  a higher  dividend.  She  asserted that  the                                                                    
legislature  thought most  about  the vulnerable  population                                                                    
referenced by Mr. Rozzi.                                                                                                        
Mr.  Rozzi  appreciated  Co-Chair  Johnston's  question.  He                                                                    
stated that  the people  that needed  the dividend  were the                                                                    
same people  that needed the program.  He encouraged members                                                                    
to continue gathering data on the  topic. He was happy to do                                                                    
research and provide data.                                                                                                      
Co-Chair Johnston thought additional  data would be helpful.                                                                    
She  asked  if there  had  there  been success  getting  the                                                                    
program  population  into  the   job  market  after  getting                                                                    
Mr.  Rozzi stated  that individuals  that  had housing  were                                                                    
more inclined to get and  keep a job. Further, families were                                                                    
healthier.  He  mentioned  the  drawback  of  transportation                                                                    
challenges  in   the  Mat-Su  Valley   and  its   effect  on                                                                    
affordable housing.                                                                                                             
Co-Chair  Johnston   asked  if  Mr.  Rozzi   had  statistics                                                                    
relating  to  the  job  market in  the  Mat-Su  valley.  She                                                                    
pondered  the  priority  of housing,  jobs,  or  a  one-time                                                                    
Mr. Rozzi did not have the information.                                                                                         
6:21:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Ortiz  asked about Mr.  Rozzi's understanding                                                                    
of what  was in the  current budget  as compared to  the two                                                                    
previous years.                                                                                                                 
Mr. Rozzi  recalled that the  program was  being flat-funded                                                                    
at a  level that  was about  $500,000 less  than it  was two                                                                    
years previously.                                                                                                               
Co-Chair  Foster recalled  that  the program  was funded  at                                                                    
$7.8 million  the previous year,  and the  governor's budget                                                                    
had  $7.3  million,  and the  AMHTA  Board  had  recommended                                                                    
funding  $8.15  million.  The committee  substitute  with  a                                                                    
preliminary version of the budget  had the funding amount at                                                                    
$8.15 million.  He thought  there could  be an  amendment to                                                                    
increase  or decrease  the amount.  He  thought Mr.  Rozzi's                                                                    
testimony was  important for  helping people  understand the                                                                    
importance of the program.                                                                                                      
6:23:24 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE  ROSE, COORDINATOR,  MAT-SU  COALITION  ON HOUSING  AND                                                                    
HOMELESNESS,  testified in  support of  funding the  Housing                                                                    
Assistance  Program  Grant.  He  referenced  materials  that                                                                    
included  statistics on  housing and  homelessness (copy  on                                                                    
file).  He  referenced  anecdotal  information  and  thought                                                                    
backing  up  stories  with numbers  was  important.  Through                                                                    
using  the Alaska  Homeless  Management Information  System,                                                                    
the  coalition had  observed trends.  He addressed  Co-Chair                                                                    
Johnston's question about the  PFD versus housing grants and                                                                    
thought  that the  population in  question  needed both.  He                                                                    
discussed  the  path to  homelessness  and  hoped the  state                                                                    
could  spare  the  small  amount  needed  to  help.  He  was                                                                    
personally a conservative and thought  the state should have                                                                    
a balanced budget. He pondered  the concept of a ten percent                                                                    
transitional  reduction on  all departments.  He appreciated                                                                    
the  difficult job  faced by  the legislature.  He discussed                                                                    
his good  fortune as  a juxtaposition  with the  families he                                                                    
worked with.                                                                                                                    
6:27:05 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard explained  that Mat-Su  had                                                                    
incredible needs and the PFD  was "the great equalizer." She                                                                    
thought Mr. Rose had been  correct in saying housing as well                                                                    
as  the  PFD were  needed.  She  thanked  Mr. Rose  for  his                                                                    
Mr. Rose was grateful for the opportunity to testify.                                                                           
Co-Chair  Johnston asked  about  Mr. Rose's  idea  of a  ten                                                                    
percent cut to all departments.  She noted that the governor                                                                    
had not been able  to make such a cut the  first year of his                                                                    
administration. She  thought state  government needed  to be                                                                    
transformed. She  asked if Mr.  Rose lived in the  Palmer or                                                                    
Wasilla area and paid for police protection.                                                                                    
Mr.  Rose noted  he  was  in the  Mat-Su  borough but  lived                                                                    
outside the city limits of Wasilla and Palmer.                                                                                  
Co-Chair  Johnston noted  that one  area of  budget increase                                                                    
was public safety. She noted  that the community of Girdwood                                                                    
had lost its state troopers and  had ended up paying for its                                                                    
own police.  She thought one idea  had been to have  the two                                                                    
service areas split  the cost of a trooper.  She wondered if                                                                    
Mat-Su would  be interested in creating  a police protection                                                                    
service area and carrying half the cost.                                                                                        
6:30:17 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Ortiz referenced  Mr. Rose's  idea of  a ten                                                                    
percent cut to all agencies for  three years. He asked if it                                                                    
was  the testifiers  perception that  there had  not been  a                                                                    
reduction across the board already.                                                                                             
Mr. Rose answered  in the negative. He had  been looking for                                                                    
a way to  reduce the budget in a progressive  way that would                                                                    
touch  everyone. He  wanted to  be taxed.  He thought  there                                                                    
needed to  be a tax  that responded and related  to services                                                                    
so  that  people  could  pay  for  what  they  received.  He                                                                    
referenced the tax structure in Hawaii.                                                                                         
6:32:26 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster added  that in  FY 13  the budget  was $7.8                                                                    
billion in  in FY 19 the  budget was $4.3 billion  for state                                                                    
government  without the  PFD. The  size of  state government                                                                    
had been reduced  by 45 percent or $3.5  billion. He thought                                                                    
cuts were  harder to  make over time,  and initially  it was                                                                    
Representative Wool  did not  want to  forget the  past five                                                                    
years. He discussed the cuts  over recent years. Many people                                                                    
did  not have  children  in schools  who  wondered why  they                                                                    
should pay  taxes for schools  they did not use.  He thought                                                                    
schools and educated people benefitted everyone.                                                                                
Representative  LeBon referenced  the  phrase  Mr. Rose  had                                                                    
used -  a tax for  a central service  he was willing  to pay                                                                    
for.  He asked  if  Mr. Rose  would be  willing  to pay  for                                                                    
trooper service in Mat-Su.                                                                                                      
Mr.  Rose replied  that as  a private  citizen he  would. He                                                                    
acknowledged that Mat-Su  and many parts of the  state had a                                                                    
huge problem with crime and  opioids. They wanted to address                                                                    
the issue, and it would take resources.                                                                                         
Co-Chair Foster thanked Mr. Rose for the discussion.                                                                            
6:35:35 PM                                                                                                                    
EMILY  FERRY, SELF,  JUNEAU, spoke  in support  of education                                                                    
and school  funding. She  provided a puppet  and spoke  of a                                                                    
school project  involving art, research, and  timelines. The                                                                    
project  was a  collaborative effort  by fourth,  fifth, and                                                                    
sixth graders. The project sparked  discussion about what it                                                                    
meant to be a leader, how  the Holocaust came to be, and how                                                                    
a society  could flip completely. She  mentioned the effects                                                                    
of a  bad decision or a  policy change. She noted  the ferry                                                                    
service had worsened over time  resulting in an accumulative                                                                    
effect.  She suggested  stopping  to evaluate  what kind  of                                                                    
community the  state was creating.  She believed  it started                                                                    
with  the  state  budget  and  legislators.  She  encouraged                                                                    
members to do some reflecting.                                                                                                  
6:39:02 PM                                                                                                                    
KRISTIN GAROT, SELF, JUNEAU, spoke  in support of education,                                                                    
ferries,   homelessness,   and   services   for   the   most                                                                    
vulnerable. She  had been  a teacher  in Alaska  since 1997.                                                                    
She  was   currently  a  principle  in   the  Juneau  School                                                                    
District. She was  the principle of three  schools that were                                                                    
referenced  earlier. She  took her  job very  seriously. She                                                                    
spoke of  seeing a  reduction in  the district's  ability to                                                                    
serve students. She argued that  schools have had to do more                                                                    
and more  to meet  higher needs for  students with  less and                                                                    
less.  The school  district had  cut the  fat from  schools.                                                                    
However,  there was  no more  to cut  without cutting  large                                                                    
essentials. She had testified the  previous day to encourage                                                                    
full  funding for  suicide prevention  grants and  programs.                                                                    
She talked  about a  reduction of  service to  the students.                                                                    
She spoke  about grant  funds that  helped schools  do their                                                                    
work on a daily basis.  She asked members to support forward                                                                    
funding of  education and  an increase  to the  Base Student                                                                    
Allocation (BSA).                                                                                                               
Representative  LeBon asked  if there  were tiered  payments                                                                    
for  substitute  teachers  in Juneau's  schools.  Ms.  Garot                                                                    
thought it was  a two-tiered payment schedule:  One for non-                                                                    
certified substitutes and one for certified substitutes.                                                                        
Representative LeBon  asked for  the amounts. Ms.  Garot did                                                                    
not know.                                                                                                                       
Vice-Chair   Ortiz  asked   how   long  she   had  been   an                                                                    
administrator.  He additionally  queried  how  long she  had                                                                    
been  responsible  for  3  schools. Ms.  Garot  had  been  a                                                                    
principle for  the Juneau  School District  for 7  years and                                                                    
had been responsible for all 3 schools during that period.                                                                      
Vice-Chair Ortiz  clarified that she had  not had experience                                                                    
being a  principle for only  1 school. Ms.  Garot responded,                                                                    
"I do not."                                                                                                                     
Vice-Chair Ortiz  was trying to  figure out  the opportunity                                                                    
costs of Ms.  Garot trying to cover 3 schools  versus 1. Ms.                                                                    
Garot could only speculate.                                                                                                     
Co-Chair Johnston asked if the  schools were in one building                                                                    
or at  multiple locations.  Ms. Garot  responded that  all 3                                                                    
schools were located in 1 building.                                                                                             
Co-Chair  Foster recalled  Ms. Garot  talking about  forward                                                                    
funding  education.  He  suggested the  possibility  of  the                                                                    
legislature  passing an  education  package  in February  or                                                                    
March rather  than forward  funding for  FY 22.  He wondered                                                                    
when  the school  districts needed  to know  what the  state                                                                    
funding would be  in order to avoid sending  out pink slips.                                                                    
He asked  her to comment.  Ms. Garot could not  remember the                                                                    
exact   date   required   to  notify   employees   regarding                                                                    
employment for  the following school  year. She knew  it was                                                                    
before  the  end of  the  school  year  in May.  The  school                                                                    
district sent its budget for  the following year to the city                                                                    
by the end of March. She  commented that it would be helpful                                                                    
to know by March.                                                                                                               
6:45:56 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMIANN  HASSELQUIST, SELF,  JUNEAU, provided  some personal                                                                    
information   regarding  her   heritage.  She   thanked  the                                                                    
committee for  their efforts to  resolve the  state's budget                                                                    
crisis.  She  spoke  in favor  of  properly  supporting  the                                                                    
Alaska Marine  Highway System. She mentioned  her mother was                                                                    
a  product of  a  boarding school.  She provided  additional                                                                    
information  about her  heritage.  She  claimed the  problem                                                                    
with the ferry  system was pushing her family  back into the                                                                    
woods.  She spoke  of  the  need to  have  the ferry  system                                                                    
working and  relayed many ways  it affected her  family. She                                                                    
talked  about experiencing  many  of  her adverse  childhood                                                                    
experiences. She thought  many things could be  done to help                                                                    
with people's  adverse childhood experiences.  She mentioned                                                                    
a $3  million grant  that would  help provide  training. She                                                                    
thanked members for considering several matters.                                                                                
6:53:33 PM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA WATTS,  KTOO COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD,  JUNEAU, noted                                                                    
that  Public Broadcasting  was crucial  to staying  informed                                                                    
about several  things. It was especially  important to rural                                                                    
areas.  She  commented that  she  had  worked for  KTOO  for                                                                    
several years.  She appreciated the  reporting by  KTOO. She                                                                    
noted  some  of the  benefits  of  Public Broadcasting.  She                                                                    
thought it would be important to provide proper funding.                                                                        
Representative Josephson  thought Public  Broadcasting could                                                                    
be broken  down into  several categories. He  wondered which                                                                    
categories were most important.                                                                                                 
Ms.  Watts  responded that  safety  was  the most  important                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz  relayed that prior to  the previous year's                                                                    
budget  the  state  supported Public  Broadcasting  with  an                                                                    
appropriation  of about  $2.7 million.  In  the last  budget                                                                    
cycle, there was  not support. He asked her to  speak to the                                                                    
opportunity costs derived from cuts in previous years.                                                                          
Ms. Watts did not have  the information but could provide it                                                                    
^PUBLIC  TESTIMONY:   SITKA,  PETERSBURG,   DELTA  JUNCTION,                                                                  
UNALASKA, DILLINGHAM, GLENNALLEN, TOK                                                                                         
6:58:04 PM                                                                                                                    
DAN  DUNAWAY, SELF,  DILLINGHAM (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  favor of  Public  Radio. He  indicated  he had  provided                                                                    
written testimony.  He wanted  to touch  on the  funding for                                                                    
the Department of Fish and  Game for management and research                                                                    
of salmon in  Bristol Bay. The fishery paid  for itself, yet                                                                    
it was still  threatened with reductions. Over  the last few                                                                    
years it generated  over $3 million for  projects. He wanted                                                                    
to  see  enough  money  to support  the  Togiak  tower  that                                                                    
provided significant  opportunity to  a more remote  area of                                                                    
Bristol Bay  and a less  wealthy section of the  fishery. He                                                                    
also   wanted  to   mention  that   the  radio   station  in                                                                    
Dillingham,  KDLG, too  an  $80,000 cut  in  the prior  year                                                                    
which had  hammered the station.  The station  increased its                                                                    
local contribution,  but it was  barley meeting  the minimum                                                                    
requirements to  be a legal  station. Reporters  were unable                                                                    
to get out  as frequently, and the state was  limited in its                                                                    
equipment. He  believed the  radio station  was a  matter of                                                                    
life and safety. He frequently  checked the weather when out                                                                    
hunting and fishing. He hoped  the legislature would restore                                                                    
funding for radio broadcasting, particularly KDLG.                                                                              
7:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM ABBOTT, SELF, PETERSBURG  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
favor  of  Public  Broadcasting.   He  had  been  in  Public                                                                    
Broadcasting for over  30 years. He noted  the importance of                                                                    
maintaining service.  He mentioned  an amber alert  that had                                                                    
occurred  earlier in  the week.  He urged  members to  fully                                                                    
support  radio. He  hoped the  legislature would  ensure the                                                                    
appropriation  for public  broadcasting  was veto-proof.  He                                                                    
also spoke  in favor of  the AMHS.  He noted the  expense of                                                                    
traveling by air versus the ferry.  It was a highway for his                                                                    
region. He  hoped additional funding  could be  provided for                                                                    
the system.                                                                                                                     
7:04:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CLARE JAEGER,  TOLSONA COMMUNITY CORPORATION,  COPPER VALLEY                                                                    
DEVELOPMENT  ASSOCIATION,  GLENNALLEN (via  teleconference),                                                                    
reported that  the Tolsona Community  Corporation was  in an                                                                    
unorganized  borough  and  relied  on  assistance  from  the                                                                    
legislature. The  corporation had  some local  road projects                                                                    
and a project to restore drainage  and cap off roads to make                                                                    
them  functional  again.  The  main problem  she  wanted  to                                                                    
discuss  with  the committee  was  the  requirement of  fire                                                                    
preparedness and  the establishment of fire  breaks. She was                                                                    
very interested in programs  through the Forestry Department                                                                    
to fund firebreaks  throughout her region. She  spoke of the                                                                    
development of  programs to use  biomass in boilers  in some                                                                    
facilities.  She   noted  some   of  the   public  buildings                                                                    
currently  using  biomass.   Currently,  her  region  needed                                                                    
biomass. She hoped that through  a process with the Forestry                                                                    
Department and the  funding of fire breaks  the region could                                                                    
develop an  industry for biomass  and wood chips  to provide                                                                    
heating and  fuel for several  facilities. She spoke  of the                                                                    
local forester  retiring and leaving an  empty position that                                                                    
had not  been filled due  to budget constraints. It  was her                                                                    
understanding that her region  would receive additional help                                                                    
through the Mat-Su  Borough. She believed the  major risk in                                                                    
her area were wildfires.                                                                                                        
7:07:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REBECCA HIMSCHOOT,  SELF, SITKA (via teleconference),  was a                                                                    
practicing  teacher  and  a   previous  Board  of  Education                                                                    
member. She  appreciated the education funding  support from                                                                    
the  prior year.  However, there  had  been a  tragedy of  a                                                                    
trickle-down effect  from the uncertainty of  funding. Sitka                                                                    
ended up  having to hire  a few  teachers on the  very first                                                                    
day  of school.  She urged  support for  forward funding  of                                                                    
7:09:51 PM                                                                                                                    
COLLAUNA MARLEY, SELF, SITKA  (via teleconference), spoke of                                                                    
the   importance  of   forward  funding   for  K-12   public                                                                    
education. She  mentioned the  benefits of  forward funding.                                                                    
She brought  up the fact  that there was a  national teacher                                                                    
shortage  and reported  a 20  percent teacher  turn over  in                                                                    
Alaska. In  some rural communities the  percentage jumped to                                                                    
36  percent. Forward  funding offered  needed certainty  and                                                                    
continuity  to Alaska's  K-12 public  education system.  She                                                                    
thanked members for listening and for their service.                                                                            
7:10:44 PM                                                                                                                    
TEISHA  SIMMONS,   SELF,  FAIRBANKS   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
sought support for community-based  funding. She had been in                                                                    
a wheelchair  for over 20 years.  She was a high  school and                                                                    
college graduate.  She wanted  to demonstrate  the potential                                                                    
of people with disabilities.  She emphasized the reliability                                                                    
of people  with disabilities. She  asked members not  to cut                                                                    
personal  care givers.  Personal care  givers helped  people                                                                    
continue  living  at home  rather  than  going into  nursing                                                                    
homes.  She argued  that by  making cuts  to community-based                                                                    
funding it placed funding into the hands of nursing homes.                                                                      
7:14:50 PM                                                                                                                    
VIKKI JO  KENNEDY, SELF, JUNEAU (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
of  the  money spent  on  the  Kodiak Launch  facility.  She                                                                    
argued that  the funds used to  pay for the launch  could be                                                                    
better used  for other things.  She urged members  to unload                                                                    
the launch facility.                                                                                                            
7:16:56 PM                                                                                                                    
ROD  CATRON, SELF,  METLAKATLA (via  teleconference), worked                                                                    
for AMHS. He was aware  of the budget problems. He mentioned                                                                    
the great  need to maintain  the ferry system.  He indicated                                                                    
the stores in the smaller  communities were empty. He talked                                                                    
about the  dependence on the  ferry system. He  talked about                                                                    
the impact of the loss of  service. He also spoke in support                                                                    
of funding education and taking  care of the state's elders.                                                                    
He suggested taxing marijuana more  heavily. He indicated he                                                                    
would  support  a partial  cut  to  the  PFD. He  hoped  the                                                                    
legislature would find a way  to resolve the state's issues.                                                                    
He reemphasized the importance of AMHS.                                                                                         
7:20:38 PM                                                                                                                    
JANELL  MANCHESTER,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
urged funding  for community-based services. She  reported 1                                                                    
in 10 people  had a disability. She suggested  it was easier                                                                    
to put  a person  into assisted living.  However, community-                                                                    
based services  were much cheaper. She  continued to discuss                                                                    
the benefits of community-based services.                                                                                       
7:23:25 PM                                                                                                                    
HERMAN MORGAN,  SELF, ANIAK (via  teleconference), disagreed                                                                    
with an either/or approach to  the PFD. He indicated that by                                                                    
taking the PFD  away from the people of  Aniak the community                                                                    
would be affected  to the tune of $1.8 million.  He spoke of                                                                    
the  high prices  of fuel  in the  community. He  also noted                                                                    
prices for  several items. He  suggested cutting  the budget                                                                    
by  10 percent.  He  opposed  all of  the  funding going  to                                                                    
education,  as  Alaskan  students  had some  of  the  lowest                                                                    
testing scores in  the nation. He thought  results should be                                                                    
required within the education system.  He opined that taking                                                                    
away  people's dividends  was not  right.  He noted  tuition                                                                    
hikes  at the  University  of Alaska.  He  talked about  the                                                                    
difficulty of  living in the  rural areas of Alaska.  He did                                                                    
not  want  to  see  Alaska become  a  socialized  state.  He                                                                    
continued to speak  of the benefits of the PFD.  He spoke of                                                                    
able-bodied   adults   receiving   Medicaid   benefits.   He                                                                    
encouraged members  to make additional cuts  to the budgets.                                                                    
He did  not think the  legislature's approach should  not be                                                                    
an either/or approach.                                                                                                          
7:28:34 PM                                                                                                                    
NELSON CELLARIUS, SELF,  CHITINA (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in   favor  of   AMHS.   He  argued   that   AMHS  was   run                                                                    
inefficiently.  He thought  the wrong  people were  involved                                                                    
with  making poor  decisions. He  thought  the ferry  system                                                                    
should be run  by a different entity. He  questioned why the                                                                    
state  was hiring  other people  when  there were  employees                                                                    
that  were not  working full-time.  He spoke  of inefficient                                                                    
spending by the state.                                                                                                          
7:33:12 PM                                                                                                                    
ASHLEY   WOODS,   SELF,  FAIRBANKS   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
supported  community-based   services.  She  spoke   of  the                                                                    
negative  effects  of  not having  the  funding.  She  asked                                                                    
members to consider supporting community-based services.                                                                        
7:34:48 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICIA DICK,  SELF, SITKA  (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support of education.  She spoke about how  the education in                                                                    
Sitka  was great.  She  wanted to  avoid  seeing pink  slips                                                                    
handed  out to  teachers. She  spoke in  support of  forward                                                                    
funding education.  She continued to  speak on the  issue of                                                                    
cuts to  education. She also  spoke in support of  AMHS. She                                                                    
noted that many of the  smaller towns dependent on the ferry                                                                    
system were running  out of food. She  thought the situation                                                                    
was  at a  critical  point. She  thanked  members for  their                                                                    
efforts.  She talked  about the  community coming  together.                                                                    
She wanted to see basic needs provided for Alaskans.                                                                            
Co-Chair  Johnston  reminded the  public  of  where to  send                                                                    
written public  testimony. She reviewed  the agenda  for the                                                                    
following day.                                                                                                                  
HB  205  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
HB  206  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
7:41:37 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 7:41 p.m.                                                                                          

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