Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS ROOM 519

02/20/2020 05:00 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
05:03:18 PM Start
05:03:46 PM HB205 || HB206
05:07:40 PM Public Testimony: Fairbanks
05:51:24 PM Public Testimony: Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-su, Seward
07:32:29 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. * Fairbanks
6:45 - 8:00 p.m. * Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan,
Kodiak, Mat-Su & Seward
5:00 - 8:00 p.m. * Off Net
- Select a spokesperson if you are part of a
group with the same message
- All Off Net callers must hang up immediately
after testifying to keep lines open
- Continue to access meeting through akleg.gov
- The hearing may be televised on Gavel to Gavel,
please check listings
- Please arrive 15 min. early for sign-in process
- Please arrive 30 min. prior to end of allotted
time or testimony will close early
- Send written testimony to
housefinance@akleg.gov by 5:00 pm on 2/22/20
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                     February 20, 2020                                                                                          
                         5:03 p.m.                                                                                              
5:03:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 5:03 p.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Jennifer Johnston, Co-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Kelly Merrick                                                                                                    
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
Representative Cathy Tilton (via teleconference)                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Austin Brown, Interim CEO,  Fairbanks Rescue Mission; Brenda                                                                    
McFarlan,   Employee,  Fairbanks   Rescue  Mission;   Mathew                                                                    
Carrick,   Fairbanks   Citizen,  Juneau;   Cheryl   Kilgore,                                                                    
Interior  Community  Health,   Juneau;  Rachel  Lord,  Self,                                                                    
Juneau;  Paul Larentz,  Self,  Juneau; Representative  Steve                                                                    
Thompson; Representative Grier Hopkins.                                                                                         
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Garrett  Armstrong, Self,  Fairbanks; Susan  Henrichs, Self,                                                                    
Fairbanks; Lesa  Meath, Self, Fairbanks; Tammy  Smith, Self,                                                                    
Fairbanks; Rick  Spencer, Self,  North Pole;  Abel Bult-Ito,                                                                    
Faculty  Union of  United Academics,  University of  Alaska,                                                                    
Fairbanks; Gerald Keyse, Self,  Fairbanks; Misty Cole, Self,                                                                    
Kenai;  Michael Jeffery,  Self,  Barrow;  Nici Simms,  Self,                                                                    
Juneau;  Lara  Law,   Southeast  Alaska  Independent  Living                                                                    
(SAIL),  Haines;   David  Hurlbut,  Self,   Juneau;  Jeannie                                                                    
Creamer-Dalton,  Self,   Fairbanks;  Sharon   Baring,  Self,                                                                    
Fairbanks;  David  Frey,  Self, Fairbanks;  Julie  Saunders,                                                                    
Self,  Fairbanks;   Jaclyn  Cheek,  Self,   Fairbanks;  Bert                                                                    
Houghtaling,   Self,  Big   Lake;   Grant  Echohawk,   KRBD,                                                                    
Ketchikan  LIO; Leila  Kheiry, KRBD,  Ketchikan LIO;  Donald                                                                    
Westlund,  Self,  Ketchikan  LIO;  Phil  Doherty,  Executive                                                                    
Director,   Southeast   Alaska   Regional   Dive   Fisheries                                                                    
Association  (SARDFA), Ketchikan  LIO; Holly  Kenoyer, KRBD,                                                                    
Ketchikan  LIO; Mary  Forbes, Self,  KODIAK; Robyn  Cassidy,                                                                    
Self,  KODIAK;  Cheri  Smith, Executive  Director,  Leeshore                                                                    
Center,  Kenai; David  Brighton, President,  Kenai Peninsula                                                                    
Education Association, Kenai;  Wayne Aderhold, KBBI/Kachemak                                                                    
Bay   Broadcasting,   Homer;    Rachel   Breithaupt,   Self,                                                                    
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."                                                                                                        
5:03:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster  detailed  the   agenda  of  the  evening's                                                                    
meeting.  He announced  the different  ways that  the public                                                                    
could participate in public testimony.                                                                                          
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: FAIRBANKS                                                                                                  
5:07:40 PM                                                                                                                    
GARRETT  ARMSTRONG,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
expressed broad  budget concerns.  He spoke against  the $30                                                                    
million cuts to education. He  stated that he was a teacher,                                                                    
so  felt that  he job  could be  at risk.  He noted  that it                                                                    
could cause  stress on students.  He felt that  there should                                                                    
be  more  funding for  the  University  of Alaska  Fairbanks                                                                    
5:09:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SUSAN HENRICHS, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support of  a  reasonable level  of  funding for  public                                                                    
service. She  testified in support  of funding for  UAF. She                                                                    
also  stated that  she would  be  willing to  pay taxes  and                                                                    
accept  a smaller  Permanent Fund  Dividend (PFD).  She felt                                                                    
that  the   UAF  compact  did  not   sufficiently  fund  the                                                                    
university.  She  remarked that  it  would  be difficult  to                                                                    
serve the students statewide. She  stressed that UAF had the                                                                    
ability  to  improve  its  enrollment,  due  to  its  unique                                                                    
location and education system. She  felt that UAF could have                                                                    
a better and robust level of funding.                                                                                           
Co-Chair   Foster   noted    Representative   Thompson   and                                                                    
Representative Hopkins in the audience.                                                                                         
5:12:04 PM                                                                                                                    
AUSTIN BROWN, INTERIM CEO,  FAIRBANKS RESCUE MISSION, shared                                                                    
that he  had experienced  periodic times of  homelessness in                                                                    
his life.  He advocated  for retaining  the full  amount for                                                                    
the  basic   homeless  assistance  funding.  He   felt  that                                                                    
programs  would  be  eliminated  to  survive  the  cuts.  He                                                                    
stressed  that  homelessness  would  increase,  and  thereby                                                                    
overwhelming  local  services. He  encouraged  collaboration                                                                    
with various stakeholders.                                                                                                      
Co-Chair  Johnston   wondered  where  there  should   be  an                                                                    
emphasis in homelessness or an increased PFD.                                                                                   
Mr. Brown  felt that he  would advocate for  direct homeless                                                                    
assistance  programs.  He remarked  that  there  could be  a                                                                    
continued burden on the community.                                                                                              
Representative  Carpenter  wondered  whether  the  Fairbanks                                                                    
Rescue Mission  had fundraisers,  and whether it  received a                                                                    
percentage of its total from local donations.                                                                                   
5:16:02 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Brown  replied  that  there   was  a  support  base  of                                                                    
approximately  1200  individuals  and organizations  in  the                                                                    
community.  He   shared  that   there  were   three  veteran                                                                    
programs;  a  recycling  program;   a  Mental  Health  Trust                                                                    
Authority   resource  for   rapid  rehousing;   Habitat  for                                                                    
Humanity; and  a development of  tiny homes  for sustainable                                                                    
Representative Carpenter  wondered how the  Fairbanks Rescue                                                                    
Mission would request help from  the community, should there                                                                    
be a reduction in resources from the state.                                                                                     
Mr.  Brown replied  that the  Fairbanks  Rescue Mission  was                                                                    
already connecting  with the community. He  shared that they                                                                    
used the  radio stations and  on different platforms  in the                                                                    
community.  He  stated  that  the   community  made  up  the                                                                    
difference of the $58,000 reduction  from the year prior. He                                                                    
stated that there was still  a hope that the community would                                                                    
continue to respond.                                                                                                            
5:18:03 PM                                                                                                                    
BRENDA MCFARLAN, EMPLOYEE,  FAIRBANKS RESCUE MISSION, shared                                                                    
her story. She stressed that  her family was able to prosper                                                                    
in  Fairbanks  due to  the  "safety  net" that  an  extended                                                                    
family member was able to assist  in their time of need. She                                                                    
stressed  that no  one wanted  to  go to  a rescue  mission,                                                                    
because it was a last resort.                                                                                                   
Representative  Wool  wondered  whether  the  Mental  Health                                                                    
Budget would have restored funds.                                                                                               
Co-Chair Foster  replied that the original  funding was $7.8                                                                    
million,  but  was reduced  by  $500,000  in the  governor's                                                                    
proposed budget  had $7.3 million.  The Mental  Health Board                                                                    
recommended $8.15  million to leverage  their own  funds. He                                                                    
stated that  the most recent  Mental Health  Budget included                                                                    
$8.15 million, therefore it was restored.                                                                                       
Representative Wool wondered  whether the recommendation was                                                                    
larger to make up the gap in the UGF.                                                                                           
Co-Chair  Foster   stated  that  it  was   larger  than  the                                                                    
governor's recommendation.                                                                                                      
5:23:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MATHEW  CARRICK, FAIRBANKS  CITIZEN,  JUNEAU, advocated  for                                                                    
reduced PFD  and exploration of  broad based taxes.  He also                                                                    
spoke in  support of  keeping the CBR  at full  capacity. He                                                                    
testified in  support of  funding for UAF.  He did  not feel                                                                    
that   "treading  water"   would  advance   the  state.   He                                                                    
specifically felt  that there should  be a reduction  in the                                                                    
deferred maintenance backlog  at UAF. He spoke  to the issue                                                                    
of  food  security.  He  felt  that  there  should  be  some                                                                    
conversations with those in the agriculture industry.                                                                           
5:26:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHERYL KILGORE, INTERIOR COMMUNITY  HEALTH, JUNEAU, spoke in                                                                    
support of  examining the Medicaid budget,  and consider the                                                                    
people that  rely on  Medicaid. She felt  that the  $3000 in                                                                    
the  PFD did  not come  close to  offsetting a  complication                                                                    
that might  occur at a hospital.  She spoke in support  of a                                                                    
reduced or  eliminated PFD. She  stated that she  had worked                                                                    
in  the health  care industry  for a  long time.  She shared                                                                    
that many of her family  members had attended the University                                                                    
Alaska  system.  She stressed  that  many  people in  Alaska                                                                    
lived in  poverty. She remarked that  the Interior Community                                                                    
Health Center  had a positive  impact on those that  come to                                                                    
the  center. She  noted the  strong health  outcomes of  the                                                                    
patients.   She  remarked   that  the   center  focused   on                                                                    
prevention and  intervention. She  noted that  many patients                                                                    
had various problems  in their lives. She  stressed that her                                                                    
center relied  on the  entire health  care system  to assist                                                                    
the patients.  She restated that  the center was  the safety                                                                    
net,  and the  entire community  helped in  the care  of the                                                                    
patients. She  stressed that the  center does a good  job of                                                                    
keeping people out of the hospital.                                                                                             
5:31:31 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative LeBon  recognized the accomplishments  of Ms.                                                                    
Kilgore. She wondered whether  the Interior Community Health                                                                    
Center received an award.                                                                                                       
Ms. Kilgore stated that the  center had received an award in                                                                    
2018  for the  top ten  percent  of health  outcomes in  the                                                                    
country.  She stressed  that there  were  many factors  that                                                                    
come into receiving that award.                                                                                                 
Representative Wool  stated that  he had  been a  patient at                                                                    
the  health center,  and emphasized  that the  health center                                                                    
provided a sliding scale of payment for services.                                                                               
5:33:46 PM                                                                                                                    
LESA  MEATH, SELF,  FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  echoed                                                                    
the comments of previous  testifiers, focusing on compassion                                                                    
for  all  Alaskans. She  spoke  in  support of  funding  the                                                                    
Alaska Marine  Highway System. She  spoke in support  of the                                                                    
Interior Community  Health Center  and the  Fairbanks Rescue                                                                    
Mission.  She spoke  in support  of  suicide prevention  and                                                                    
educational opportunities  for at risk youth.  She testified                                                                    
in support of funding for  education funding. She noted that                                                                    
there was always an attempt  to recruit and retain educators                                                                    
in the  state. She  felt that  Alaska needed  to work  to be                                                                    
attractive for  potential teachers.  She noted the  issue of                                                                    
the  schools that  were  not  in the  road  system, and  the                                                                    
infrastructure issues  in those  communities. She  felt that                                                                    
there were many  students and families that  should be given                                                                    
the best  opportunities. She supports the  education tax and                                                                    
a cap  to the PFD.  She opposed any retroactive  payments to                                                                    
the PFD.                                                                                                                        
5:38:01 PM                                                                                                                    
TAMMY  SMITH, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), echoed                                                                    
the  comments  of Ms.  Meath.  She  stated  that she  was  a                                                                    
teacher, and spoke in support  of funding for education. She                                                                    
strongly  supported  funding  for  UAF. She  also  spoke  in                                                                    
support of funding  for health care programs.  She felt that                                                                    
strong public schools were important.  She shared that there                                                                    
was  a reduction  in resources,  and stressed  the issue  of                                                                    
recruitment and  retention. She  remarked that  there should                                                                    
be  an  effort  to   make  the  educational  positions  more                                                                    
attractive  for potential  applicants. She  felt that  there                                                                    
should  be an  examination of  funding public  education for                                                                    
all students  in the  state, both  urban and  rural schools.                                                                    
She felt that the elimination  of the one-time finding would                                                                    
result in further erosion of the school system.                                                                                 
5:42:54 PM                                                                                                                    
RICK SPENCER,  SELF, NORTH POLE (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support of  a state income tax. He  echoed the statements                                                                    
of the previous testifiers.  He felt that additional revenue                                                                    
would help with the state's budget issues.                                                                                      
Representative  Carpenter wondered  whether Mr.  Spencer was                                                                    
employed in the private sector.                                                                                                 
Mr. Spencer was  currently retired, but paid  income tax. He                                                                    
was previously  employed as a  power lineman in  the private                                                                    
5:45:08 PM                                                                                                                    
ABEL   BULT-ITO,   FACULTY   UNION  OF   UNITED   ACADEMICS,                                                                    
UNIVERSITY  OF   ALASKA,  FAIRBANKS   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
advocated for  K-12 education funding.  He spoke  in support                                                                    
of funding for the University  of Alaska. He appreciated the                                                                    
additional  $10  million,   so  the  cuts  may   not  be  as                                                                    
detrimental.  He remarked  that the  university may  need to                                                                    
cut  dozens  of  programs.  He   shared  that,  despite  the                                                                    
adversarial issues, he was very  proud of the faculty in the                                                                    
university  system. He  was also  grateful for  the students                                                                    
who were ready to learn and achieve at the university.                                                                          
5:47:54 PM                                                                                                                    
GERALD  KEYSE, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support  of  funding  for   care  coordination  for  the                                                                    
disabled.   He  testified   in   support   of  funding   for                                                                    
transportation  for senior  disabled  citizens. He  remarked                                                                    
that  cutting  for  the  senior  disabled  would  result  in                                                                    
difficult lives for many people.  He wondered why there were                                                                    
so many  cuts to  programs that impacted  him. He  felt that                                                                    
care for seniors  should be a higher  priority. He supported                                                                    
the governor, but hoped that  he could get some direction in                                                                    
helping  the  senior  population.  He  remarked  that  there                                                                    
should also be funding for UAF.                                                                                                 
Representative  Josephson  noted  that there  was  a  public                                                                    
transportation grant  funded through the capital  budget for                                                                    
many years that did not survive  FY 2020. He shared that his                                                                    
office was examining that funding.                                                                                              
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: HOMER,  KENAI, KETCHIKAN, KODIAK, MAT-SU,                                                                  
5:51:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MISTY COLE, SELF, KENAI  (via teleconference), spoke against                                                                    
funding  for Medicaid  expansion.  She spoke  in support  of                                                                    
fully funding  the PFD, and  felt that  a change to  the PFD                                                                    
should be  put to  the vote  of the  people. She  asked that                                                                    
there be responsible  cuts to the budget.  She spoke against                                                                    
taxes and exploration of additional  revenue. She also spoke                                                                    
against a binding caucus in the legislature.                                                                                    
5:54:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  JEFFERY, SELF,  BARROW (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
against the  suicide prevention program. stated  that he had                                                                    
worked  with   various  organizations  that   address  Fetal                                                                    
Alcohol  Spectrum  Disorder  (FASD). He  stressed  that  the                                                                    
therapeutic  court was  important  for people  that want  to                                                                    
turn  their  lives  around.  He  remarked  that  a  holistic                                                                    
approach was  important in the  criminal justice  system. He                                                                    
also  spoke   in  support  of   public  education   and  the                                                                    
university. He  stated that he  was in support of  an income                                                                    
tax in order  to fund the necessary services.  He also spoke                                                                    
in support of public media.                                                                                                     
Representative Sullivan-Leonard thanked  Mr. Jeffery for his                                                                    
years  of service.  She stressed  that he  always gave  wise                                                                    
Mr. Jeffery thanked Representative Sullivan-Leonard.                                                                            
Representative Knopp  wondered whether  there was  an impact                                                                    
to public  radio in Barrow  from the previous  year's budget                                                                    
Mr.  Jeffery  replied  that his  community  had  made  steps                                                                    
forward to keep  the radio on. He stated that  there may not                                                                    
be a staff, but did not  know the details of public radio in                                                                    
his community.                                                                                                                  
Co-Chair  Johnston noted  the  high cost  of  living in  Mr.                                                                    
Jeffery's  community.  She  wondered whether  the  community                                                                    
would support a smaller PFD.                                                                                                    
Mr. Jeffery replied that he  was speaking for himself, so he                                                                    
did not  want to  speak to what  the community  would prefer                                                                    
for the PFD.                                                                                                                    
6:00:47 PM                                                                                                                    
NICI  SIMMS,   SELF,  JUNEAU  (via   teleconference),  spoke                                                                    
against the  Juneau Area  Mental Health  Initiative (JAMHI).                                                                    
She stated that  it was too easy to receive  the checks from                                                                    
JAMHI. She remarked  that people were able  to receive money                                                                    
too easily. She felt that  many people were taking advantage                                                                    
of the money.  She remarked that the PFD was  a mistake. She                                                                    
felt that doctors would stop  participating in Medicaid. She                                                                    
encouraged  the  committee  to examine  other  options.  She                                                                    
remarked  that  Alaska  was attracting  the  wrong  kind  of                                                                    
6:05:50 PM                                                                                                                    
LARA  LAW,  SOUTHEAST   ALASKA  INDEPENDENT  LIVING  (SAIL),                                                                    
HAINES  (via  teleconference),  spoke in  support  of  fully                                                                    
funding the  Mental Health Budget. She  testified in support                                                                    
of  senior  transportation  services. She  shared  anecdotes                                                                    
about  those   that  use  the  transportation   system.  She                                                                    
remarked  that  the  taxi voucher  program  allows  for  the                                                                    
participants  to  run  errands   without  relying  on  other                                                                    
people. She also spoke in  support of funding for the Public                                                                    
6:08:43 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  HURLBUT,  SELF,  JUNEAU (via  teleconference),  spoke                                                                    
against use of  the PFD to pay for state  services. He spoke                                                                    
against putting  the burden of  paying for  state government                                                                    
on  families. He  stressed that  the  PFD gave  back to  the                                                                    
people  of the  state. He  felt that  the elimination  of an                                                                    
income tax was the biggest mistake.                                                                                             
6:14:01 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Law continued  with her testimony. She  urged support of                                                                    
funding  for the  Public Guarding  budget.  She stated  that                                                                    
SAIL coordinated  regularly with guardians, and  shared that                                                                    
many participants lived in  horrible circumstances. She also                                                                    
spoke in support of funding for telehealth systems.                                                                             
6:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
RACHEL LORD,  SELF, JUNEAU, shared  that she was  a resident                                                                    
of  Homer. She  spoke in  support of  funding for  rural and                                                                    
road  system public  safety;  court  system; marine  highway                                                                    
service;  K-12 education;  the university  system; a  health                                                                    
care service  that provides safety  nets; public  media; and                                                                    
regulatory  programs. She  encouraged  bold leadership.  She                                                                    
felt  that the  state was  out  of time.  She remarked  that                                                                    
there  should be  a  broad approach,  including  use of  the                                                                    
permanent fund. She  also spoke in support of  a broad based                                                                    
tax,  specifically an  income tax.  She cautioned  against a                                                                    
statewide  sales tax.  She spoke  in support  of an  oil tax                                                                    
6:20:10 PM                                                                                                                    
PAUL  LARENTZ,  SELF,  JUNEAU,   shared  that  he  lived  in                                                                    
Ketchikan. He spoke in support  of funding the Alaska Marine                                                                    
Highway System. He stated that  he had worked for the ferry,                                                                    
and remarked  that there were  many people who  were waiting                                                                    
to work on the ferry. He  remarked that there was a need for                                                                    
skilled workers  if and  when the  ferry begins  to function                                                                    
again.  He  remarked  that  there  was  a  major  impact  to                                                                    
Southeast Alaska  while the ferries  were not  operating. He                                                                    
shared  that  he had  many  different  job offers,  but  was                                                                    
scared to take any of the offers.                                                                                               
Representative Josephson  wondered whether there was  100 of                                                                    
the 450 workers actively working.                                                                                               
Mr. Larentz replied  that out of 450 people  employed by the                                                                    
unit, only 100 were working.                                                                                                    
Representative Josephson wondered what  the other 350 people                                                                    
Mr. Larentz replied  that some were pursuing  other jobs. He                                                                    
stated that he was also  examining other jobs working in the                                                                    
sea.  He was  not sure  the direction  of the  current ferry                                                                    
Representative   Sullivan-Leonard  surmised   that  it   was                                                                    
currently the "slow time" for ferry traffic.                                                                                    
Mr. Larentz replied in the  affirmative, but he normally had                                                                    
at least three vessels running.                                                                                                 
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard wondered  whether the  full                                                                    
450 employees would be working.                                                                                                 
Mr. Larentz  replied that there  would be  approximately 250                                                                    
to 300 working.                                                                                                                 
6:24:36 PM                                                                                                                    
JEANNIE     CREAMER-DALTON,     SELF,     FAIRBANKS     (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  support   of  funding  for  the                                                                    
Historic Sternwheeler.  She remarked that the  boat had been                                                                    
a museum, so  there was a process to restore  that boat. She                                                                    
did  not  know  whether  the budget  had  anything  to  fund                                                                    
historic objects. She shared that  the National Park Service                                                                    
agreed to help the funding for the sternwheeler.                                                                                
6:27:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SHARON BARING,  SELF, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support of  funding for education from  Pre-K through the                                                                    
university system. She also spoke  in support of funding for                                                                    
the Alaska  Marine Highway System.  She spoke in  support of                                                                    
keeping the  PFD at $1600. She  also spoke in support  of an                                                                    
income tax.  She testified in  support of public  media. She                                                                    
commented  that  Nevada chose  to  invest  heavily in  their                                                                    
education during their economic downturn.                                                                                       
Representative  Carpenter wondered  whether  Ms. Baring  was                                                                    
employed in the private or public sector.                                                                                       
Ms.  Baring replied  that  she was  employed  in the  public                                                                    
Representative  Wool noted  that Ms.  Baring was  the school                                                                    
nurse at his children's school.                                                                                                 
6:30:50 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  FREY,  SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference),  spoke                                                                    
against  large PFDs.  He felt  that the  permanent fund  was                                                                    
meant for  future generations,  and it  should not  be taken                                                                    
for the current year. He  spoke in support of a "reasonable"                                                                    
PFD. He  wanted a  thoughtful and  balanced approach  to the                                                                    
budget. He  felt that the  budget should include  sources of                                                                    
new revenue.  He spoke  in support of  an income  tax, which                                                                    
would  be  a percentage  of  everyone's  federal income  tax                                                                    
liability. He  stated that  the income  tax would  also gain                                                                    
revenue  from  the  out  of   state  workers  who  currently                                                                    
benefitted  from  Alaska's   infrastructure,  but  who  paid                                                                    
little  or  nothing  in  tax. He  testified  in  support  of                                                                    
increasing the  gasoline tax. He  felt that there  should be                                                                    
an increase to  the oil industry tax. He  spoke against cuts                                                                    
to  current state  services, especially  K-12 education  and                                                                    
the university. He  shared that he was  self-employed in the                                                                    
private  sector in  the tourism  industry. He  stressed that                                                                    
his business depended on infrastructure in the state.                                                                           
6:33:21 PM                                                                                                                    
JULIE  SAUNDERS,   SELF,  FAIRBANKS   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in support  of funding  for correctional  officer                                                                    
recruitment.  She shared  that she  had been  employed as  a                                                                    
correctional officer and  had left her service  when she was                                                                    
married due to  the dangerous nature of the  job. She stated                                                                    
that recruitment was not focused  towards the long-term. She                                                                    
believed it  needed to more  closely mirror  law enforcement                                                                    
6:35:37 PM                                                                                                                    
JACLYN   CHEEK,   SELF,  FAIRBANKS   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  about her  concern  that the  current year  would                                                                    
take  a  similar turn  to  resemble  the past  session.  She                                                                    
stressed   that  the   ferry   system   had  crumbled,   the                                                                    
accreditation University  had been threatened,  elders could                                                                    
not afford to  live in the Pioneer Homes,  public safety was                                                                    
poorly  supported, and  people on  Medicare had  lost dental                                                                    
coverage for  months. She  did not  have a  miracle solution                                                                    
for the budget, but she  was scared for the state's schools,                                                                    
teachers,  and others.  She did  not support  the governor's                                                                    
budget  that would  drain savings.  She thought  the endless                                                                    
cuts  and  special sessions  needed  to  end. She  supported                                                                    
legislation to  bring in  more revenue via  income tax  or a                                                                    
change in  [oil] tax  credits. She  supported a  budget that                                                                    
funded the public system and protected vulnerable citizens.                                                                     
6:38:29 PM                                                                                                                    
BERT  HOUGHTALING,  SELF,  BIG  LAKE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
found  it disturbing  that  six people  in  the House  would                                                                    
decide what would  happen in every district.  He thought the                                                                    
binding  caucus  was  extortion and  blackmail.  He  thought                                                                    
there were special interests guiding  the budget. He did not                                                                    
support the  use of  the PFD to  fund government.  He stated                                                                    
that  government had  been growing  for decades.  He thought                                                                    
the  Department of  Health and  Social  Services budget  had                                                                    
grown  $3.5  billion in  the  last  year. He  discussed  the                                                                    
broken ferries  due to decades of  underfunding. He wondered                                                                    
why funding  had not been provided  in the past. He  did not                                                                    
think  the governor  had personally  broken the  ferries. He                                                                    
thought  it was  disturbing  the legislature  was trying  to                                                                    
bypass the PFD  statutory formula. He stated  that until the                                                                    
past  year the  budget  had  never paid  for  the  PFD -  he                                                                    
thought the  statutory formula should be  followed where the                                                                    
money was transferred from the  Earnings Reserve Account. He                                                                    
believed there was adequate funding  to backpay the past PFD                                                                    
and pay the current full PFD.                                                                                                   
6:41:09 PM                                                                                                                    
GRANT  ECHOHAWK, KRBD,  KETCHIKAN LIO  (via teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of public  radio and shared  the vital                                                                    
nature  of the  service to  outlying communities.  He shared                                                                    
that  many  outlying  communities   had  limited  access  to                                                                    
internet  and resources.  He stated  that the  AMHS terminal                                                                    
had limited  access to resources.  He supported  the ability                                                                    
to  communicate vital  information to  outlying communities,                                                                    
including   emergency   services,  news,   streaming   local                                                                    
basketball games,  and other. He  believed it  was necessary                                                                    
to  provide  a  platform  to   allow  the  community  to  be                                                                    
informed,  to receive  safety  updates,  and to  participate                                                                    
with one  another. He noted  there had  been a cut  the past                                                                    
year.  He  appreciated  the money  in  the  current  budget.                                                                    
Ultimately, he wanted to ensure  public radio was at the top                                                                    
of the list. He supported the  AMHS and stressed the need to                                                                    
develop  a solution  to get  the system  running and  to put                                                                    
people back to work. He  underscored that putting people out                                                                    
of work  was a very  short-term solution that  created long-                                                                    
term problems.  He stated that  the individuals  invested in                                                                    
communities when  they were  back to  work. He  continued to                                                                    
address the benefits of the  ferry system. He spoke to truly                                                                    
diversifying the state's industry  to reduce reliance on oil                                                                    
and  mining.  He pointed  out  that  there were  many  other                                                                    
industries  with alternative  fuel options.  He thanked  the                                                                    
committee for its time.                                                                                                         
6:45:20 PM                                                                                                                    
LEILA  KHEIRY,  KRBD,  KETCHIKAN LIO  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of  public radio  as a  vital resource                                                                    
for  maintaining connections  in Alaska.  She stressed  that                                                                    
many  small  communities  relied on  their  community  radio                                                                    
stations for  emergency and  safety information,  along with                                                                    
local, statewide,  and national news. She  listed the merits                                                                    
of the  service. Many communities  would be cut  off without                                                                    
the service,  which made public  radio a key  state service.                                                                    
She  discussed  cuts from  the  prior  year meant  that  the                                                                    
station was already at bare  bones services. The station had                                                                    
increased its  fundraising by  adding another  pledge drive,                                                                    
raffle, and  auction. The  station had a  staff of  four and                                                                    
the  current level  of  fundraising  was unsustainable.  She                                                                    
supported a proposal  to add some money to  the state budget                                                                    
for  public  radio,  which  would  go  a  long  way  towards                                                                    
providing necessary services.                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Ortiz  thanked Ms. Kheiry  for her  testimony. He                                                                    
asked  if funding  cuts in  the previous  year had  impacted                                                                    
other stations throughout the state.                                                                                            
Ms. Kheiry replied that the  smaller stations throughout the                                                                    
state were really struggling to  hang on. Many stations were                                                                    
trying to make  it through the year with the  hopes of being                                                                    
able  to increase  their funding  for the  coming year.  She                                                                    
stated a second  year of cuts would  identify which stations                                                                    
were able to survive and  which stations would have to close                                                                    
their doors or severely cut services.                                                                                           
6:48:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DONALD WESTLUND,  SELF, KETCHIKAN LIO  (via teleconference),                                                                    
thought  that $18.7  million was  positive, but  it was  not                                                                    
enough to  bring AMHS services  up to the needed  amount. He                                                                    
thanked the committee  for its time. He stated  that DOT was                                                                    
allocating  $365 million  to widen  the  Seward Highway.  He                                                                    
noted  there  had  been  an   avalanche  that  had  required                                                                    
overtime workers  to clear  the road.  He stressed  that the                                                                    
state  could not  even  keep  its ferries  on  the road.  He                                                                    
considered what would  happen if the avalanche  had not been                                                                    
cleared  and  the  roads  had been  closed  until  the  snow                                                                    
melted.  He  supported increasing  the  motor  fuel tax.  He                                                                    
disagreed  with  the  governor's   stance  on  the  PFD;  he                                                                    
preferred  no  dividend  in  order  to  have  services  like                                                                    
healthcare,  ferries,  and other.  He  stated  that DOT  was                                                                    
spending  $12  million to  put  a  roundabout in  Anchorage,                                                                    
while  it was  allocating  $18.7 million  to  fix the  ferry                                                                    
system. He  believed another $50  million was needed  to get                                                                    
the ferry system back to reasonable service.                                                                                    
6:50:46 PM                                                                                                                    
PHIL DOHERTY, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, SOUTHEAST ALASKA REGIONAL                                                                    
DIVE  FISHERIES  ASSOCIATION  (SARDFA), KETCHIKAN  LIO  (via                                                                    
teleconference), shared  information about  the association.                                                                    
The  value  of  the  combined fisheries  for  geoducks,  sea                                                                    
cucumbers,  and  red sea  urchins  was  between $10  to  $12                                                                    
million  per year.  He shared  that divers  paid a  mandated                                                                    
assessment tax  of 7 percent  in the geoduck fishery  to pay                                                                    
for  federal and  Department  of Environmental  Conservation                                                                    
shellfish  requirements  and  the  Department  of  Fish  and                                                                    
Game's  assessment  and management  of  the  fishery. The  7                                                                    
percent was in addition to the  3 percent state fish tax. He                                                                    
provided additional  information about the  fishery. Upwards                                                                    
of 95 percent of the geoducks  were sold to the live Chinese                                                                    
market. Divers  spent $150,000 per year  from the assessment                                                                    
tax to collect paralytic  shellfish poisoning (PSP) samples.                                                                    
The  association hired  divers  to  collect samples  weekly,                                                                    
which  were  sent  to  Anchorage   for  testing.  Since  the                                                                    
inception of  the geoduck  clam fishery,  the state  had not                                                                    
charged  for the  PSP analysis  at  the lab.  He noted  that                                                                    
SARDFA  had always  paid for  the shipping  of the  samples.                                                                    
Under  the governor's  budget, the  state  would charge  lab                                                                    
fees. He stressed that if  the fees were charged the geoduck                                                                    
assessment tax  would not  be enough to  cover the  cost and                                                                    
the fisheries could close.                                                                                                      
Mr.  Doherty stressed  that the  governor's proposed  budget                                                                    
would  decrease the  DFG dive  fisheries budget  by $19,900.                                                                    
The association assumed it would  have to make up the amount                                                                    
or lose  fishing opportunities.  He underscored  that SARDFA                                                                    
already paid over  $100,000 for DFG to  manage the resource.                                                                    
He emphasized they  were the only fisheries in  the state to                                                                    
directly subsidize  DFG. He highlighted that  an increase of                                                                    
20 percent to its budget,  while no other fishery was paying                                                                    
its way did  not make sense. He urged the  committee to deny                                                                    
the cut in the DFG budget.                                                                                                      
Vice-Chair  Ortiz  asked  Mr. Doherty  to  repeat  the  fees                                                                    
SARDFA paid.                                                                                                                    
Mr. Doherty complied. He detailed  that SARDFA paid slightly                                                                    
over  $100,000  to  DFG  annually.  He  provided  additional                                                                    
detail on the process. The  amount did not cover 100 percent                                                                    
of the  department's management fees,  but it was  close. He                                                                    
shared  that  DEC  money  pertained   only  to  the  geoduck                                                                    
fishery. He  explained that geoducks  were required  to pass                                                                    
PSP  levels.  The association  spent  $150,000  per year  to                                                                    
collect the PSP samples,  $19,500 for water quality samples,                                                                    
$3,500 per year for DEC  to reclassify the areas, $18,000 to                                                                    
certify  areas for  inorganic arsenic  testing, $25,000  per                                                                    
year  on geoduck  money for  management, and  administrative                                                                    
costs of  about $50,000  for a total  of $266,000  per year,                                                                    
which was  more than  the fishery brought  in over  the past                                                                    
several years in assessment tax.  The fishery would close if                                                                    
it was taxed for the PSP lab testing.                                                                                           
Representative  Merrick asked  what year  the state  started                                                                    
paying for the PSP testing.                                                                                                     
Mr. Doherty replied that the  geoduck fishery started in the                                                                    
late 1980s  and the  fishery started  testing at  that time.                                                                    
The  association had  always paid  to  collect the  samples,                                                                    
while the state  had always paid for the PSP  testing at the                                                                    
6:56:56 PM                                                                                                                    
HOLLY  KENOYER, KRBD,  KETCHIKAN  LIO (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in  support of public radio  broadcasting. She thanked                                                                    
the legislature for its efforts  to fund public broadcasting                                                                    
in  the  past year.  She  asked  the committee  to  consider                                                                    
funding  for public  broadcasting in  the current  year. She                                                                    
shared that  she had stopped in  to say hello to  her mom on                                                                    
the way to testify. Her mom  had asked her to be quiet while                                                                    
she was listening  to state and local news.  She shared that                                                                    
she used  the public radio for  election updates, basketball                                                                    
games,  music,  poetry,  news, weather,  water  quality  and                                                                    
more. She  stressed that  public broadcasting  connected all                                                                    
communities  in Alaska.  She shared  that  it was  community                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz thanked  Ms.  Kenoyer for  taking time  to                                                                    
share her story about public radio.                                                                                             
6:59:39 PM                                                                                                                    
MARY  FORBES, SELF,  KODIAK (via  teleconference), spoke  in                                                                    
support of public broadcasting. She  shared that the loss of                                                                    
$77,000  in  the  past  year had  put  station's  future  in                                                                    
jeopardy. The station  relied on the funding for  day to day                                                                    
operations.  Additionally,  loss  of  the  funding  put  the                                                                    
station's  federal   funding  in   jeopardy  as   well.  The                                                                    
governor's cuts  had impacted the borough  and city council,                                                                    
which had  also cut  funding for  the station.  She stressed                                                                    
that the snowballing effects  were increasingly difficult to                                                                    
make up.  The station was doing  its best to try  to make up                                                                    
the  difference,  but  any state  funding  would  help.  She                                                                    
shared that communities and villages  relied on public radio                                                                    
for  vital  communications,  news,  weather,  the  fisheries                                                                    
report, and more.                                                                                                               
7:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBYN  CASSIDY, SELF,  KODIAK  (via teleconference),  stated                                                                    
there were  many items  she wanted to  see increased  in the                                                                    
current budget  including a fully functioning  ferry system,                                                                    
Pre-K,  K-12  education,  the University,  a  robust  public                                                                    
broadcasting   system,  school   bond  debt   reimbursement,                                                                    
healthcare,  funding for  wildfires and  melting permafrost.                                                                    
She shared  that the  headline in the  local paper  that day                                                                    
had been  looking at  increasing property  taxes due  to the                                                                    
governor's  cuts. She  supported ending  the credits  to oil                                                                    
corporations.  She thought  the time  for funding  roads and                                                                    
bridges  to nowhere  had passed.  She appreciated  a reduced                                                                    
PFD  in the  previous year.  She suggested  asking the  D.C.                                                                    
representatives for  funding for  the ferry system,  but she                                                                    
understood that  federal agencies looked at  the PFD program                                                                    
as an  excuse to  withhold funds  from Alaska.  She believed                                                                    
the state was overdue in  finding new revenue resources. She                                                                    
did not  believe a lotto  would be sufficient. She  was more                                                                    
than  willing   to  pay   for  continuing   and  sustainable                                                                    
7:04:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHERI  SMITH,  EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, LEESHORE  CENTER,  KENAI                                                                    
(via teleconference), the  center provided emergency shelter                                                                    
and advocacy  services to victims  of domestic  violence and                                                                    
sexual assault. The center was  also a member program of the                                                                    
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence  and Sexual Assault. She                                                                    
was   grateful  to   the   governor   and  legislature   for                                                                    
understanding  the  mission  of   the  Council  on  Domestic                                                                    
Violence and Sexual Assault within  the Department of Public                                                                    
Safety. The counsel was the  funding agency for all victims'                                                                    
service  programs throughout  the state.  She listed  all of                                                                    
the services the  center had provided in the  past year. She                                                                    
thanked  the  legislature  for its  help  ensure  there  was                                                                    
adequate funding  for domestic  violence and  sexual assault                                                                    
7:06:19 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID   BRIGHTON,  PRESIDENT,   KENAI  PENINSULA   EDUCATION                                                                    
ASSOCIATION,  KENAI (via  teleconference), testified  on the                                                                    
importance  of  education.  He   thanked  the  governor  and                                                                    
legislature for fully funding K-12  education in the current                                                                    
budget.  He  stated  that fully  funding  the  Base  Student                                                                    
Allocation (BSA)  without including the onetime  $30 million                                                                    
from the previous year was  a burden on the school district.                                                                    
The  administration  was working  to  ensure  there were  no                                                                    
cuts; they  would be spending  some fund balance  to protect                                                                    
students' education in the current  year; however, they were                                                                    
worried  about  the  following year.  He  spoke  to  forward                                                                    
funding education and its importance  in keeping teachers in                                                                    
Alaska.  He  asked  the   legislature  to  continue  forward                                                                    
funding  education   in  the  future  in   order  to  retain                                                                    
teachers.  He  noted  that under  the  Teachers'  Retirement                                                                    
System  (TRS) teachers  were fully  vested after  five years                                                                    
and could leave  Alaska to teach elsewhere. He  spoke to the                                                                    
importance  of  retaining  teachers   in  order  to  benefit                                                                    
students in Alaska.                                                                                                             
7:08:23 PM                                                                                                                    
WAYNE ADERHOLD,  KBBI/KACHEMAK BAY BROADCASTING,  HOMER (via                                                                    
teleconference),  shared that  financial support  for public                                                                    
broadcasting   was  needed   and  appreciated   as  stations                                                                    
continued  to  progress   towards  self-sufficiency  through                                                                    
membership   and   underwriting   from   local   businesses.                                                                    
Listeners depended on public  radio for national, statewide,                                                                    
and  local programming  that was  not  available from  other                                                                    
sources.  He  highlighted  that the  station  provided  live                                                                    
broadcast and online streaming of  borough assembly and city                                                                    
council  meetings  in  an  effort   to  enable  an  informed                                                                    
electorate. The station had  formalized its association with                                                                    
the city  and borough  emergency departments to  be directly                                                                    
involved in information gathering  during any type of public                                                                    
emergency  or  natural   disaster.  He  provided  additional                                                                    
detail. He appreciated the funding  in the budget to support                                                                    
public radio.                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Johnston reviewed  the  email  address for  public                                                                    
7:11:34 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
7:32:29 PM                                                                                                                    
RACHEL  BREITHAUPT,  SELF, KETCHIKAN  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared that she was a  former school board member and social                                                                    
worker for the  state. She spoke in support  of full funding                                                                    
for  schools  and  students  who  needed  special  attention                                                                    
including  "pullouts"  and in-classroom  para-professionals.                                                                    
She  believed teachers  needed to  be paid  appropriately in                                                                    
order  increase   teacher  retention.  She   supported  full                                                                    
funding for  Pioneer Homes and  senior benefits.  She shared                                                                    
that she spent much  time helping individuals get affordable                                                                    
housing   and  healthcare.   She   stressed   it  was   very                                                                    
challenging for many Alaskans.  She implored the legislature                                                                    
to  save  the  AMHS.  She stressed  the  desperate  need  in                                                                    
Southeast  communities   for  the  state   subsidized  ferry                                                                    
system. She pointed to small  communities who were currently                                                                    
experiencing  food  shortages   because  ferry  service  had                                                                    
stopped.  She  discussed  the  importance  of  doing  things                                                                    
together. She  asked the committee  to continue  to consider                                                                    
vulnerable populations during the budget process.                                                                               
HB  205  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
HB  206  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster   shared  the  email  address   for  public                                                                    
testimony. He reviewed the schedule for the following day.                                                                      
7:32:29 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 7:36 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects