Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

04/09/2021 01:30 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
01:32:53 PM Start
01:37:28 PM HB69 || HB71
01:37:31 PM Public Testimony: Fairbanks, Kenai, Mat-su, Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Kotzebue, Nome, Utqiagvik
03:49:43 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 69 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
+= HB 71 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm: Fairbanks, Kenai, Mat-Su,
Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Kotzebue, Nome,
Utqiagvik
- Please call 30 min. prior to end of allotted
time or testimony will close early
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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
- Select a spokesperson if you are part of a
group with the same message
- Send written testimony to
house.finance@akleg.gov
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 9, 2021                                                                                            
                         1:32 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:32:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 1:32 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Kelly Merrick, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Tom  Atkinson, City  Manager,  City  of Kotzebue,  Kotzebue;                                                                    
Denice   Gilroy,    Executive   Director,    Arctic   Access                                                                    
Independent Living  Center, Nome; Cheri Smith,  The LeeShore                                                                    
Center, Kenai;  Alli Lane,  Standing Together  Against Rape,                                                                    
Talkeetna;  Tara Carlson,  Self,  Fairbanks; Shelby  Kearns,                                                                    
Self, Fairbanks;  Isaac Fenigsohn, Self,  Fairbanks; Valerie                                                                    
Therrien,  City  Council,  City of  Fairbanks;  John  Creed,                                                                    
Self,  Anchorage; Kathy  Hanson, Self,  Bethel; Bryce  Ward,                                                                    
Mayor, Fairbanks North Star  Borough, Fairbanks; Jacob Cole,                                                                    
Self, Anchorage; June Rogers,  Self, Fairbanks; Sarah Sears,                                                                    
Self,   Bethel;  Lauren   Custer,  Self,   Fairbanks;  David                                                                    
Brighton, President, Kenai  Peninsula Education Association;                                                                    
Keeley Olson, Executive  Director, Standing Together Against                                                                    
Rape,  Anchorage;  Victoria  Shanklin,  Executive  Director,                                                                    
Victims   for  Justice,   Anchorage;  Helen   Howarth,  City                                                                    
Manager, Cordova; Panu  Lucier, Director, THREAD, Anchorage;                                                                    
Dorothy  O'Donnell,  Self,   Fairbanks;  Kimberley  Shelden,                                                                    
Self,  Fairbanks;  Charles  McKee, Self,  Anchorage;  Meghan                                                                    
Topkok,  Self, Nome;  Toni Porter,  Self, Fairbanks;  Eileen                                                                    
Arnold, Tundra  Women's Coalition, Bethel; Annie  Lee, Self,                                                                    
Bethel;  Suzy   Person,  Abused   Women's  Aid   in  Crisis,                                                                    
Anchorage; Don  Black, Bethel Family Clinic,  Bethel; Nithya                                                                    
Thiru,  Self,  Anchorage;  Carmen Pitka,  Program  Director,                                                                    
Children's  Advocacy Center,  Bethel; Polly  Odom, Director,                                                                    
Day Break  Incorporated, Palmer; Janet McCabe,  Partners for                                                                    
Progress   Inc,   Anchorage;    Anne   Doerpinghaus,   Self,                                                                    
Fairbanks;  Mark  Lackey,   Executive  Director,  CCS  Early                                                                    
Learning,  Mat-Su;  Shadi  Rabi, Self,  Bethel;  Brook  Ivy,                                                                    
Alaska Oil  and Gas Association, Anchorage;  Peter Hoepfner,                                                                    
Vice   President,  Cordova   School  Board,   Cordova;  Dawn                                                                    
Shewmaker,  Self,  Anchorage;  Michael  Jaffery,  Utqiagvik,                                                                    
Self; Marge  Sponeking, AARP Alaska, Anchorage;  Mike Coons,                                                                    
Self,   Palmer;   Karen    Bird,   Self,   Fairbanks;   Bert                                                                    
Houghtaling, Self,  Big Lake;  Carmen Guzman,  University of                                                                    
Alaska  Anchorage;  Anne   McCabe,  Self,  Soldotna;  Rachel                                                                    
Kallander, Self,    Anchorage;  Bertha   Sulunulik  Koweluk,                                                                    
Executive Director, Bering Sea  Women's Group, Nome; Alphred                                                                    
Wallace, Self, Bethel; Nancy  Pease, Self, Anchorage; Sierra                                                                    
Brown, Safe  Home Outreach  Coordinator, Bering  Sea Women's                                                                    
Group,  Nome;  Nicole  Songer, Executive  Director,  Cordova                                                                    
Family  Resource Center;  Michael Shaffer,  Self, Anchorage;                                                                    
Monica  Charles,  Self,  Bethel;  Melissa  Hewer,  Executive                                                                    
Director, Susitna River  Coalition; Lance Johnson, Director,                                                                    
Behavioral Health Services, Norton Sound Health, Nome.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 69     APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
          HB 69 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 71     APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          HB 71 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PUBLIC  TESTIMONY:  FAIRBANKS,   KENAI,  MAT-SU,  ANCHORAGE,                                                                    
BETHEL, CORDOVA, KOTZEBUE, NOME, UTQIAGVIK                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  provided the  call  in  numbers and  email                                                                    
address for public testimony.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 69                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain   programs;    capitalizing   funds;   amending                                                                    
     appropriations;    making   reappropriations;    making                                                                    
     supplemental   appropriations;  making   appropriations                                                                    
     under art.  IX, sec.  17(c), Constitution of  the State                                                                    
     of  Alaska,  from  the  constitutional  budget  reserve                                                                    
     fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 71                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive    mental    health    program;    making                                                                    
     supplemental  appropriations;  and   providing  for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:37:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
^PUBLIC  TESTIMONY:  FAIRBANKS,  KENAI,  MAT-SU,  ANCHORAGE,                                                                  
BETHEL, CORDOVA, KOTZEBUE, NOME, UTQIAGVIK                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:37:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TOM ATKINSON, CITY MANAGER, CITY  OF KOTZEBUE, KOTZEBUE (via                                                                    
teleconference),  shared  information   about  the  City  of                                                                    
Kotzebue. He supported retaining  full funding for the Power                                                                    
Cost  Equalization  (PCE).  He   stated  that  PCE  was  the                                                                    
endowment   that  created   a   level   playing  field   for                                                                    
communities in  the north with  high electric costs.  He did                                                                    
not  support using  the funds  for anything  other than  the                                                                    
intended purpose. He spoke in  support of broadband funds to                                                                    
create  more  accessible  and  affordable  internet  in  the                                                                    
region's schools. He spoke in  favor of full funding for the                                                                    
regional jail,  which had  been flat  funded since  2015. He                                                                    
reported that without the facility,  prisoners would have to                                                                    
be flown to facilities further  south at a much greater cost                                                                    
to  the state.  He supported  funding for  the local  public                                                                    
radio  station, which  was the  only  source of  information                                                                    
available to all residents. He  asked for public radio funds                                                                    
to be  reinstated. He requested  retaining DMV funds  in the                                                                    
budget.  He  supported  community  assistance  at  the  full                                                                    
amount.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:40:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DENICE   GILROY,    EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR,    ARCTIC   ACCESS                                                                    
INDEPENDENT LIVING CENTER,  NOME (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
about the  Aging and Disability Resource  Center (ADRC). She                                                                    
detailed  that  $250,000  had been  offered  by  the  Alaska                                                                    
Mental Health  Trust Authority  (AMHTA) for  an ADRC  in the                                                                    
north/northwest.  She had  recently learned  that the  money                                                                    
had  been  moved to  a  reserve  account. She  implored  the                                                                    
legislature to  reconsider the  action. She  provided detail                                                                    
about services provided at the  centers. She equated an ADRC                                                                    
to  a library  for resources  for service  providers working                                                                    
with  people experiencing  disabilities.  The northern  ADRC                                                                    
was  located in  Dillingham,  which was  too  far away.  She                                                                    
spoke  about   housing,  healthcare,   wage,  discrimination                                                                    
experienced by individuals  with disabilities. She discussed                                                                    
that  any adult  with a  physical or  mental condition  that                                                                    
impaired their ability to care  for their needs was at risk.                                                                    
She stressed  they were at  risk for abuse.  She underscored                                                                    
that  the center  was needed  in  the north.  She asked  the                                                                    
committee to reconsider the $250,000 increment.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:44:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHERI SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  THE LEESHORE CENTER, KENAI                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  shared   that  the  LeeShore  Center                                                                    
provided  services  to  victims  of  domestic  violence  and                                                                    
sexual  assault.  She  thanked   Co-Chair  Merrick  and  the                                                                    
Department of  Public Safety subcommittee for  fully funding                                                                    
victims' services  through the Council on  Domestic Violence                                                                    
and  Sexual  Assault  (CDVSA).  She  reported  learning  the                                                                    
previous  week  that federal  VOCA  [Victims  of Crime  Act]                                                                    
funding  was  being  cut and  that  all  services  providers                                                                    
receiving  funding  through  CDVSA  would see  a  30  to  33                                                                    
percent  funding decrease  for FY  22. She  underscored that                                                                    
the  loss  of  funding  would  be  devastating  to  victims'                                                                    
services. She  shared that if  the decrease  were maintained                                                                    
it would equate  to over $350,000 for the  center. She would                                                                    
be faced  with eliminating half  of her staff.  She stressed                                                                    
that the change would result  in drastically cutting back on                                                                    
services  including   its  children's  services   and  legal                                                                    
advocacy. She  requested general  funds to replace  the loss                                                                    
of funding.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  provided  the email  address  for  written                                                                    
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:46:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALLI LANE,  STANDING TOGETHER  AGAINST RAPE,  TALKEETNA (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  regard  to  the decrease  in                                                                    
federal VOCA  funding. She shared  that the rates  of sexual                                                                    
assault and  domestic violence were  some of the  highest in                                                                    
the  country.   She  stressed  that  funding   for  services                                                                    
supporting survivors  were crucial for  Alaskan communities.                                                                    
She  underscored  that  a  cut  of  up  to  34  percent  was                                                                    
devastating. She  implored the  committee for making  up the                                                                    
funding loss.  She personally witnessed  the success  of the                                                                    
organization  in a  society  that  stigmatized victims.  The                                                                    
cuts  could  deteriorate  decades  of work.  She  asked  the                                                                    
committee to find the cuts elsewhere.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:48:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TARA   CARLSON,   SELF,  FAIRBANKS   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  against the  cut to  federal VOCA  funding of  34                                                                    
percent. The  Interior Alaska  Center for  Nonviolent Living                                                                    
budget was funded through the  CDVSA under the Department of                                                                    
Public  Safety.  She reported  that  prior  to the  pandemic                                                                    
Alaska had  one of the  highest rates of sexual  assault and                                                                    
domestic violence  and rates had  only increased  during the                                                                    
pandemic. She  provided information about  services provided                                                                    
by domestic  violence and  sexual assault  organizations and                                                                    
advocates.  She  stressed  that  services  providing  public                                                                    
safety should be the last  things cut at present. She shared                                                                    
information about her experience  with domestic violence and                                                                    
sexual assault and  reported that she had  been fortunate to                                                                    
have   support  and   resources   available  following   her                                                                    
experience.  She  asked  the committee  to  ensure  victims'                                                                    
services were fully funded.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:51:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHELBY KEARNS, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via teleconference), worked                                                                    
for  the  Interior  Alaska  Center  for  Nonviolent  Living,                                                                    
educating the community on how  to prevent domestic violence                                                                    
and sexual assault. She worried  about having to tell people                                                                    
there  were  not  services  available  due  to  the  federal                                                                    
funding  cuts.  She shared  that  advocates  working at  the                                                                    
local  shelter were  already stretched  thin, but  there was                                                                    
always  someone available  to listen.  The  cuts would  mean                                                                    
there would  no longer  always be  an advocate  available to                                                                    
survivors.  She   asked  the  legislature  to   ensure  that                                                                    
survivors had the resources needed when they sought help.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:53:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ISAAC  FENIGSOHN,  SELF,   FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared that  he worked  for the  Interior Alaska  Center for                                                                    
Nonviolent Living.  He stated that  the HB 69 included  a 34                                                                    
percent decrease  in funding for  victims' services.  He was                                                                    
very concerned  about losing funding  for an  overworked and                                                                    
underpaid group of individuals who  were critical in helping                                                                    
people on the worst days  of their lives. spoke against cuts                                                                    
to victims'  services. He stressed that  the legislature had                                                                    
the power to prioritize funding.  He stated that the funding                                                                    
in the budget  for advocacy was not  sufficient. He stressed                                                                    
that every dollar taken represented  a person that would not                                                                    
receive  services. The  decision directly  impacted victims.                                                                    
He  asked the  committee to  consider what  would happen  if                                                                    
their child  was not able  to receive victims'  services. He                                                                    
asked  legislators  to  be   committed  to  ending  domestic                                                                    
violence and sexual assault in Alaska.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:55:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VALERIE  THERRIEN,  CITY  COUNCIL, CITY  OF  FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                    
teleconference),   urged  the   committee  to   support  the                                                                    
governor's  proposal to  fund the  state's contributions  to                                                                    
the   Public  Employees'   Retirement  System   (PERS).  She                                                                    
detailed that the city supported  maintaining the 22 percent                                                                    
PERS contribution  rate to pay  off the  unfunded liability.                                                                    
She  asked  the  committee   to  deny  the  administration's                                                                    
proposal to  shift costs  to municipalities  associated with                                                                    
prosecuting  misdemeanors to  cities. She  remarked that  it                                                                    
would cost Fairbanks about $400,000  if the change occurred.                                                                    
She  asked   the  committee  to  capitalize   the  community                                                                    
assistance fund to the full $90 million.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:56:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  CREED, SELF,  ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  shared                                                                    
that he  had taught as a  professor in Kotzebue for  over 30                                                                    
years. He  supported President Biden's American  Rescue Plan                                                                    
Act  (ARPA)  including funds  for  education  in Alaska.  He                                                                    
spoke in  support of funding  for the University  of Alaska.                                                                    
He stated that the university  could miss out on millions of                                                                    
dollars due  to the governor's "short  sighted" budget cuts.                                                                    
He   explained  that   the   federal   funds  required   the                                                                    
maintenance of  effort at pre-pandemic levels,  or the money                                                                    
would be  lost. He  asked the legislature  to not  allow the                                                                    
cuts to sabotage  the federal funds. He spoke  to the impact                                                                    
of  higher   education  in  rural   Alaska  and   asked  the                                                                    
legislature  to  maintain the  rural  campuses.  He did  not                                                                    
support SB  39 [voter  registration legislation  proposed in                                                                    
2021] by  Senator Mike Shower.  He asked members  to support                                                                    
HB 66  by Representative Chris Tuck,  which he characterized                                                                    
as a "good voter bill."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:00:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHY HANSON,  SELF, BETHEL  (via teleconference),  spoke to                                                                    
the  value  of  public  broadcasting in  rural  Alaska.  She                                                                    
shared  that   the  community  had   received  all   of  the                                                                    
information  on  the  pandemic  through  its  public  health                                                                    
corporation via public radio. There  had been no other means                                                                    
to  get the  daily information  out to  community residents.                                                                    
She noted that  many individuals in the region  did not have                                                                    
access to internet.  She relayed that public  radio had kept                                                                    
residents up to date and  informed. The public radio station                                                                    
also  provided  public  safety reports  notifying  residents                                                                    
when the  river was unsafe  for travel. She  emphasized that                                                                    
lives were saved by the  reports. She implored the committee                                                                    
to maintain funding for public radio.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:01:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRYCE WARD,  MAYOR, FAIRBANKS NORTH STAR  BOROUGH, FAIRBANKS                                                                    
(via teleconference),  spoke in support of  community health                                                                    
and  social  services  grants. He  requested  the  full  $90                                                                    
million  funding  for  community assistance.  He  asked  the                                                                    
committee   to  consider   forward  funding   education.  He                                                                    
supported school  debt bond  reimbursement. He  believed the                                                                    
ability for  the state to  continue to honor  the commitment                                                                    
was  incredibly important.  He spoke  about the  Coronavirus                                                                    
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security  (CARES) Act and American                                                                    
Rescue Plan  Act (ARPA) federal  funding. The  community had                                                                    
distributed $23.5  million to support businesses  during the                                                                    
pandemic. He  asked the legislature to  consider its funding                                                                    
allocations to communities.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:04:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JACOB COLE,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support  of Alaska  libraries. He  relayed  that during  the                                                                    
2020  legislative session,  the  Alaska Library  Association                                                                    
had recommended an amendment to  the budget for $635,900 for                                                                    
the  Alaska   Library  catalogue  and  SLED   resources.  He                                                                    
reported   that    the   legislature   had    approved   the                                                                    
appropriation and  it had  been vetoed  by the  governor. He                                                                    
stated that  the lack  of funding  jeopardized the  SLED and                                                                    
library catalogue. He detailed that  the total cuts had been                                                                    
28  percent since  2014. He  requested full  funding of  the                                                                    
$635,900   in  the   Department  of   Education  and   Early                                                                    
Development  budget.  During  the   pandemic  usage  of  the                                                                    
library  internet services  had  increased significantly  in                                                                    
the past year.  He reported that families  had contacted the                                                                    
libraries to let  them know they had been a  lifeline in the                                                                    
past  year. He  spoke to  the narrowing  of the  rural/urban                                                                    
divide that libraries assisted with.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:07:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUNE ROGERS,  SELF, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), thanked                                                                    
the   committee   for   its  dedication   to   serving   all                                                                    
jurisdictions  in Alaska.  She  reported  that COVID-19  had                                                                    
greatly impacted rural communities.  She spoke in support of                                                                    
public  radio  in Alaska.  She  pointed  out that  restoring                                                                    
partial  funding to  Alaska Public  Media would  help ensure                                                                    
the  stability  of the  rural  stations  was supported.  She                                                                    
stressed  that  public  radio provided  a  lifeline  in  the                                                                    
state.  She underscored  the importance  of public  radio in                                                                    
rural Alaska. The services were essential and efficient.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:08:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARAH SEARS, SELF, BETHEL  (via teleconference), shared that                                                                    
she worked  as a nurse  practitioner at the  Yukon Kuskokwim                                                                    
Health Corporation. She detailed  that she performed medical                                                                    
exams for sexual assault survivors.  She reported the region                                                                    
had two  times the number  of sexual assault  survivors than                                                                    
the  rest  of Alaska.  She  provided  information about  the                                                                    
medical  process responding  to victims.  She detailed  that                                                                    
they  had recently  learned that  federal  VOCA funding  for                                                                    
advocates and services was being  cut. She stressed that the                                                                    
cuts  would  have devastating  impacts  on  the region.  She                                                                    
elaborated on the services provided  by advocates. She urged                                                                    
the committee  to allocate state  general funds in  place of                                                                    
the lost federal funds.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:10:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LAUREN  CUSTER, SELF,  FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  was                                                                    
grateful  for Governor  Dunleavy's recognition  of April  as                                                                    
Sexual Assault  Awareness Month.  She shared  that she  is a                                                                    
survivor of  domestic violence and  an advocate.  She worked                                                                    
as an advocate to help  victims find their voices when times                                                                    
were  hard. She  had learned  of  a reduction  of funds  for                                                                    
emergency shelter  services by $4.1 million.  She elaborated                                                                    
that  the cut  would  translate  into a  34  percent cut  in                                                                    
grants for  FY 22.  She reported that  the cut  would hinder                                                                    
the ability  to provide lifesaving services  to victims. She                                                                    
spoke  about Alaska's  high rate  of domestic  violence. She                                                                    
implored the  committee to allocate  state general  funds to                                                                    
bridge the gap in lost federal funding.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:12:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID   BRIGHTON,  PRESIDENT,   KENAI  PENINSULA   EDUCATION                                                                    
ASSOCIATION (via  teleconference), urged the  legislature to                                                                    
use the prior year's student  count for schools prior to the                                                                    
beginning of the pandemic. He  shared that many students had                                                                    
come back  to school. They  were currently doing  surveys to                                                                    
determine the number of students  that would be in school in                                                                    
person in the fall. He  thought if the pandemic numbers were                                                                    
used it could  result in a shortfall. He  shared that public                                                                    
school  funding  was suffering  as  there  had not  been  an                                                                    
increase  in  the  Base Student  Allocation  (BSA)  in  five                                                                    
years. Programs  were continuing  to be  cut back  and class                                                                    
sizes were increasing.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:14:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEELEY OLSON, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, STANDING TOGETHER AGAINST                                                                    
RAPE,   ANCHORAGE   (via    teleconference),   thanked   the                                                                    
legislature  for  its efforts  to  fully  fund crime  victim                                                                    
services statewide.  She understood that a  VOCA funding cut                                                                    
occurred at the federal  level in a previous administration,                                                                    
which  was  beyond  the  state's   control.  She  urged  the                                                                    
committee to  set aside general  funds aside to make  up for                                                                    
the cut.  She relayed  that the 34  percent was  larger than                                                                    
any cut  she had  experienced in  her years  of work  in the                                                                    
field.  She shared  that  fundraising  events and  donations                                                                    
could  be  expected  to  generate up  to  $100,000  for  the                                                                    
organization  annually.  She  shared  that  STAR  and  other                                                                    
nonprofits   providing  services   to  victims   were  cost-                                                                    
efficient, they worked with law  enforcement, and other. She                                                                    
provided information about  the organization. She elaborated                                                                    
that  a  24-hour  crisis  line   was  staffed  by  community                                                                    
volunteers with  years of experience.  She stressed  that it                                                                    
was inconceivable  that they  would be able  to make  up the                                                                    
loss of funds over the coming two years.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster handed the gavel to Co-Chair Merrick.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:17:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICTORIA SHANKLIN, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, VICTIMS FOR JUSTICE,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE   (via  teleconference),   urged   the  state   to                                                                    
temporarily cover  a gap in  victims service funds  over the                                                                    
next two  years. She  reported that  the federal  VOCA funds                                                                    
were  being drastically  reduced  with  no forewarning.  She                                                                    
stated  that  the  reduction equated  to  $124,000  for  the                                                                    
organization. She  shared that the organization  was serving                                                                    
more  Alaskans than  ever  before. She  stated  that a  bill                                                                    
currently being considered by Congress  would take two years                                                                    
to remedy the  situation. She spoke to the  various types of                                                                    
violent offences  included. The state's violent  crimes were                                                                    
high. She  shared that the  organization did not have  a way                                                                    
to  make  up  the  funds  anywhere  else.  She  thanked  the                                                                    
legislature for its commitment to public safety.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:20:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HELEN HOWARTH,  CITY MANAGER, CORDOVA  (via teleconference),                                                                    
shared that COVID-19  had resulted in an  unexpected loss of                                                                    
nearly $700,000 in budgeted revenue  for Cordova in the past                                                                    
year.  She  stressed that  Cordova  could  not make  up  the                                                                    
revenue loss on its own.  She urged the committee avoid cost                                                                    
shifting or  cuts that would  impact local  governments. She                                                                    
requested full  funding for community assistance  and school                                                                    
bond debt  reimbursement. The  city applauded  the rejection                                                                    
of  the  Department  of Law's  class  one  city  misdemeanor                                                                    
proposals. She shared  that the sudden and  dramatic cuts to                                                                    
Alaska Marine  Highway System  (AMHS) had  been devastating.                                                                    
She  relayed that  during the  past year,  Cordova had  been                                                                    
without  a  ferry for  eight  months.  She spoke  about  the                                                                    
community's reliance on the  fishing industry. She requested                                                                    
adequate funding  for the  Department of  Fish and  Game for                                                                    
fisheries management. She reported  that the community's top                                                                    
capital priority  was the  rebuild of  the south  harbor for                                                                    
$30 million. She stated it  was imperative the state fund $5                                                                    
million for the harbor in  the current year. She shared that                                                                    
the city  had obtained  a $5 million  bond and  was actively                                                                    
pursuing other funding.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:22:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PANU    LUCIER,    DIRECTOR,    THREAD,    ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference), thanked  the committee for  including early                                                                    
childhood   resources  in   the  budget,   specifically  for                                                                    
childcare   benefits,   infant  learning,   early   learning                                                                    
coordination, Pre-K,  and family  support. She  stressed the                                                                    
importance  of investing  in early  childcare. The  services                                                                    
ensured that children  received a strong start  in life. She                                                                    
reported that  90 percent  of a  child's brain  developed by                                                                    
age  5.   She  encouraged  additional  resources   to  early                                                                    
childhood  education   if  additional  federal   funds  were                                                                    
received.  She  asked  the committee  to  commit  to  paying                                                                    
educators a living wage.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:25:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOROTHY  O'DONNELL,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared  that  she  is a  lifelong  Fairbanks  resident.  She                                                                    
highlighted  the  importance  of  the  Interior  Center  for                                                                    
Nonviolent Living. She stressed  the importance of filling a                                                                    
34  percent   [federal]  cut   to  victims'   services.  She                                                                    
elaborated  that  the  cut   would  mean  reducing  critical                                                                    
services   for   domestic   violence  and   sexual   assault                                                                    
survivors.  She shared  that children  and  adults would  be                                                                    
turned  away  from  services  if the  cuts  were  made.  She                                                                    
stressed    that     the    state     already    experienced                                                                    
disproportionately high  rates of violence. She  believed it                                                                    
was  the responsibility  of the  legislature  to reject  the                                                                    
proposed budget cuts.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:26:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIMBERLEY  SHELDEN,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
expressed concern  that programs  were at risk  of financial                                                                    
danger  if a  34  percent  cut to  the  Council on  Domestic                                                                    
Violence  and  Sexual  Assault  (CDVSA)  went  through.  She                                                                    
shared her  experience as a  survivor of  domestic violence.                                                                    
She believed she  would not be where she was  if she had not                                                                    
had  the  support  from  the   Interior  Alaska  Center  for                                                                    
Nonviolent  Living  in  Fairbanks.  She  stressed  that  the                                                                    
services  were  vital  and  a  cut  would  have  devastating                                                                    
impacts on victims' services.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:27:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHARLES MCKEE,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
about  his  name. He  shared  that  he  was under  bail.  He                                                                    
highlighted that  he had submitted written  documents to the                                                                    
committee. He  pointed out  the degree  of deception  in the                                                                    
administration  and  the courts.  He  shared  a story  about                                                                    
trying to submit a workers'  compensation claim. He provided                                                                    
numerous statements  about his life. He  asked the committee                                                                    
to read the material he had submitted.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:30:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEGHAN   TOPKOK,  SELF,   NOME  (via   teleconference),  she                                                                    
detailed  that she  was speaking  in her  role as  the board                                                                    
president for the Bering Sea  Women's Group. She shared that                                                                    
she was a  survivor of sexual assault and had  grown up in a                                                                    
home  that experienced  significant  domestic violence.  She                                                                    
spoke  to the  importance of  mending breaks  caused by  the                                                                    
multigenerational  cycle  of  violence. Due  to  her  trauma                                                                    
experiences,  she had  elected to  pursue a  law degree  and                                                                    
return  to  her  community  to help  victims.  She  provided                                                                    
information about  the Bering Sea  Women's Group.  She spoke                                                                    
to  the  importance  of  hope,   respect,  and  dignity  for                                                                    
victims.  She  stressed  that  Alaska's  rates  of  domestic                                                                    
violence  and sexual  assault rates  were four  times higher                                                                    
than the rest  of the country. She  thanked Co-Chair Merrick                                                                    
and the  Department of Public  Safety subcommittee  to fully                                                                    
fund services  for victims. She  had recently  learned there                                                                    
were federal  cuts that would  reduce VOCA services  by $4.1                                                                    
million.  She  implored  the  committee  to  allocate  state                                                                    
general funds  to cover the  gap in lost federal  funds. She                                                                    
stressed the critical nature of the services.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:34:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TONI  PORTER, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), shared                                                                    
that she was testifying on  behalf of herself and in support                                                                    
of the  Interior Alaska Centers  for Nonviolent  Living. She                                                                    
stressed that during the pandemic,  things had gotten easier                                                                    
for  abusers and  worse for  victims as  victims were  often                                                                    
isolated  from  friends  and  family.  She  emphasized  that                                                                    
victims in  Fairbanks needed access to  services provided by                                                                    
the  center.  She  shared  that  she  had  survived  sexual,                                                                    
psychological  abuse throughout  much of  her adult  life at                                                                    
the hands  of her husband. She  spoke to the danger  she and                                                                    
her children had  been in. Victim support  services had been                                                                    
life changing for her and  her family. She stressed the need                                                                    
for support  services. She asked  everyone to visit  the IAC                                                                    
website to view  programs that were at risk of  being cut if                                                                    
federal funds were cut. She  stressed the importance of full                                                                    
funding for the organization  and communicated that everyone                                                                    
deserves to be safe.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:36:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EILEEN  ARNOLD,   TUNDRA  WOMEN'S  COALITION,   BETHEL  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  thanked the  committee for  its commitment                                                                    
to domestic  violence and sexual assault  survivors over the                                                                    
years. She knew the shortage  of funds to statewide victims'                                                                    
services was  as much of  a shock  to the legislature  as it                                                                    
was  to  victims'  services  agencies   in  the  state.  She                                                                    
stressed that the small programs  had big impacts especially                                                                    
in  rural communities  with less  access to  law enforcement                                                                    
and prosecution.  She shared an  example of a  call received                                                                    
earlier in  the day  from a  victim who  had been  unable to                                                                    
access  services due  to a  barrier in  another system.  She                                                                    
would have to  cut services if the federal  funds were lost.                                                                    
She  asked  the legislature  to  allocate  general funds  to                                                                    
cover the gap by the  VOCA shortfall. She understood that it                                                                    
was  a situation  the  legislature did  not  create, but  it                                                                    
could help with the situation.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:38:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNIE LEE,  SELF, BETHEL  (via teleconference),  shared that                                                                    
she had  been scared and confused  when she had gone  to the                                                                    
shelter as a  child. She provided details  about her persona                                                                    
experience.  She shared  that the  Tundra Women's  Coalition                                                                    
housing  program had  enabled her  and her  family to  get a                                                                    
home. She spoke about  crisis intervention and helping other                                                                    
victims.  She knew  that her  family always  had a  place to                                                                    
turn  to if  they were  ever victimized.  She spoke  against                                                                    
federal VOCA funding  cuts. She was concerned  that the cuts                                                                    
meant people would not receive  the support if the cuts went                                                                    
through. She  did not know  where her life would  be without                                                                    
the programs. She emphasized that  the programs made a world                                                                    
of difference for individuals seeking services.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:40:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUZY  PERSON,   ABUSED  WOMEN'S   AID  IN   CRISIS  (AWAIC),                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  thanked the  committee for                                                                    
ensuring the safety of domestic  violence and sexual assault                                                                    
victims  by  supporting the  CDVSA.  She  detailed that  the                                                                    
governor's proposed  budget had been sufficient  to meet the                                                                    
needs of  victims' service  agencies; however,  the agencies                                                                    
had been  informed the previous  week that the  VOCA federal                                                                    
funding  had been  cut by  34 percent.  She elaborated  that                                                                    
CDVSA  planned  to  pass  the   cut  onto  victims'  service                                                                    
agencies  throughout Alaska,  which  would have  devastating                                                                    
impacts on victims.  She shared that AWAIC was  looking at a                                                                    
$540,000 loss, which would cause  a significant reduction in                                                                    
staff and  services. She  expounded that  services including                                                                    
beds and  legal advocacy would  be cut. The  community could                                                                    
not  afford to  lose the  services. The  organization needed                                                                    
immediate need.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Merrick reminded  testifiers  to call  in by  3:00                                                                    
p.m.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:42:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DON    BLACK,   BETHEL    FAMILY    CLINIC,   BETHEL    (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke  as a violent  crime survivor  and on                                                                    
behalf of  the Bethel Family  Clinic where he served  as the                                                                    
executive  director. The  clinic partnered  with the  Tundra                                                                    
Women's  Coalition, a  VOCA  funding  recipient, to  provide                                                                    
services  to   victims  of  domestic  violence   and  sexual                                                                    
assault. He  shared information about the  services process.                                                                    
He stated  that if  things continued  on the  current course                                                                    
the  cracks would  increase due  to  a loss  of funding.  He                                                                    
underscored  that it  was not  the time  to cut  funding. He                                                                    
stressed the importance of hearing  victims' voices in order                                                                    
to address breaking the cycle of violence.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:44:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NITHYA  THIRU, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support  of funding  for essential services  for domestic                                                                    
violence and  sexual assault  survivors. She  referenced the                                                                    
loss  of federal  funding. She  highlighted that  Alaska had                                                                    
some  of  the highest  rates  of  domestic violence  in  the                                                                    
country.  She  shared that  she  was  a sexual  assault  and                                                                    
domestic violence  survivor. She  provided detail  about her                                                                    
experience.  She  had  been lucky  to  leave  the  situation                                                                    
safely, but  that was not  the situation for  all survivors.                                                                    
She asked the committee how  much victims' lives were worth.                                                                    
She  emphasized  that  when services  were  not  funded,  it                                                                    
communicated  a  message  that  the  collective  healing  of                                                                    
survivors was unimportant. She asked  the committee to cover                                                                    
the loss of federal funding.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:46:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARMEN PITKA, PROGRAM  DIRECTOR, CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTER,                                                                    
BETHEL (via teleconference), spoke  against the federal VOCA                                                                    
funding cuts.  She stressed that  the cuts  were devastating                                                                    
and  impacted  victim  assistance for  the  Yukon  Kuskokwim                                                                    
region,  which had  one  of the  highest  rates of  domestic                                                                    
violence  and adult  and children  sex crimes.  She detailed                                                                    
that the  center's advocates responded  to crisis  calls 24-                                                                    
hours  a  day.  She emphasized  that  vulnerable  caregivers                                                                    
needed safe shelters for themselves  and their children. She                                                                    
pointed out that many times  offenders walked free and faced                                                                    
no consequences.  She reported that victims  were often left                                                                    
with only the support of  advocacy services. She stated that                                                                    
the services  could not be  cut because they  were sometimes                                                                    
all a victim had.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:48:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
POLLY ODOM,  DIRECTOR, DAY  BREAK INCORPORATED,  PALMER (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke   in  support  of   continued  grant                                                                    
funding  for   behavioral  health  treatment   and  recovery                                                                    
services.  She  detailed  services  provided  by  Day  Break                                                                    
Incorporated  for adults  experiencing mental  illnesses and                                                                    
those  with traumatic  brain injuries.  She elaborated  that                                                                    
the organization  received state grant and  Medicaid funding                                                                    
under  state  plan services  as  well  as the  newly  formed                                                                    
services under  the 1115  waiver demonstration  project. The                                                                    
organization used grant  funds to bridge gaps  in funds that                                                                    
were not  reimbursed by  state plan  services during  FY 21.                                                                    
She provided details about the  costs and delays in Medicaid                                                                    
reimbursements. She anticipated a  need for grant funding in                                                                    
FY 22  to make up  for the reduction in  reimbursement rates                                                                    
for  several services  under the  1115 waiver.  She provided                                                                    
examples. She shared  that the new plan had  been reduced to                                                                    
70 hours  annually, which would  make it impossible  to meet                                                                    
the  needs of  clients. She  thanked the  committee for  its                                                                    
time.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:50:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANET  MCCABE, PARTNERS  FOR  PROGRESS  INC, ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference),   she   shared    information   about   the                                                                    
nonprofit's  work to  support statewide  therapeutic courts.                                                                    
Additionally, the organization  ran Partners' Reentry Center                                                                    
in  Anchorage. Typically,  the  organization provided  daily                                                                    
walk-in assistance to about 70  homeless people returning to                                                                    
the  community from  prison. She  stressed that  without the                                                                    
organization's assistance, many  individuals would be likely                                                                    
to commit another crime and  return to prison. She explained                                                                    
that  much of  the program  was  supported by  funds in  the                                                                    
mental  health  budget  under  the  Department  of  Revenue,                                                                    
Alaska   Housing   Finance   Corporation   (AHFC)   Homeless                                                                    
Assistance  Program.  She  highlighted that  the  governor's                                                                    
proposed budget  cut the  critical programs  by half  of the                                                                    
amount in  the prior year's  budget. She asked  for restored                                                                    
funding to the prior year's  level. She stressed that it was                                                                    
not  the time  to cut  assistance to  homeless reentry.  She                                                                    
remarked that without the programs,  many people were likely                                                                    
to  commit new  crimes  and return  to  prison, which  would                                                                    
increase costs  to the Department of  Corrections (DOC). The                                                                    
organization's goal was to reduce DOC costs.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson  asked where to locate  the item in                                                                    
the budget.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. McCabe  replied that  the increment  was located  in the                                                                    
mental   health   budget   under  Alaska   Housing   Finance                                                                    
Corporation  within the  Department  of  Revenue. She  would                                                                    
provide the information in writing to the committee.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:53:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNE  DOERPINGHAUS,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared  that she  worked as  a forensic  nurse at  Fairbanks                                                                    
Memorial  Hospital. She  detailed  that she  saw victims  of                                                                    
violence  ranging in  gender and  all ages.  She highlighted                                                                    
the high  demand for  services. She  reported that  the VOCA                                                                    
federal  funding cuts  would be  devastating  to victims  of                                                                    
violence in  Alaska. She stated  that without  the expertise                                                                    
of  advocates,  victims  would  have  to  navigate  invasive                                                                    
medical  exams,   interviews,  and  the   complicated  legal                                                                    
procedures  without  support.  She  informed  the  committee                                                                    
there  was  strong reliance  on  victims'  advocates in  the                                                                    
state. She  provided details about the  services provided by                                                                    
advocates  in their  support of  victims.  She stressed  the                                                                    
critical  nature of  shelter services.  She believed  the 30                                                                    
percent  [federal] cuts  needed to  be addressed.  She asked                                                                    
the committee to consider allocating  general funds to cover                                                                    
the shortfall.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:55:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK LACKEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  CCS EARLY LEARNING, MAT-SU                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  spoke in  support  of  a $5  million                                                                    
increment  offered  by  Representative  Andi  Story  in  the                                                                    
Department of  Education and Early  Development subcommittee                                                                    
for  increasing  Pre-K  services. to  increase  funding  for                                                                    
early childhood  learning. He  shared information  about the                                                                    
nonprofit  services provided  by  CCS. He  relayed that  the                                                                    
organization's primary  programs were  Head Start  and early                                                                    
Head Start,  which were federally funded.  Currently, nearly                                                                    
$60  million  in  federal  funds  came  to  Alaska  for  the                                                                    
programs.  He  noted  he   had  provided  written  testimony                                                                    
outlining the incoming federal funds.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Lackey detailed  that Alaska had long  been behind other                                                                    
states  in its  support of  funding for  Pre-K services.  He                                                                    
offered  four  suggestions  to  strengthen  early  childhood                                                                    
education in  Alaska: 1) eligible applicants  should include                                                                    
school districts  and private entities who  had demonstrated                                                                    
experience in  providing and  sustaining high  quality Pre-K                                                                    
services  in  Alaska;  2) applicants  needed  to  provide  a                                                                    
community  assessment  demonstrating   the  level  of  unmet                                                                    
community need; 3) priority for  awarding the funding should                                                                    
go to application  to demonstrate a high  level of community                                                                    
collaboration and support; and  4) applicants should specify                                                                    
the locations, the  eligibility criteria, the qualifications                                                                    
of staff,  the hours of  childhood contact, amount  of child                                                                    
transportation, curriculum to be  used, the assessment tool,                                                                    
and other.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:58:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHADI RABI,  SELF, BETHEL (via teleconference),  thanked Co-                                                                    
Chair   Merrick  and   the  Department   of  Public   Safety                                                                    
subcommittee  for fully  funding  victims' services  through                                                                    
the  CDVSA.  He reported  learning  the  previous week  that                                                                    
federal VOCA funding  was being cut by 34 percent  in FY 22.                                                                    
spoke  against the  VOCA federal  funding cuts.  He stressed                                                                    
that  the  cuts  to  domestic violence  and  sexual  assault                                                                    
services  would  have  devastating  impacts  in  Alaska.  He                                                                    
reported that Alaska  continued to have some  of the highest                                                                    
rates  of domestic  violence and  sexual assault,  including                                                                    
violence against  children. He  underscored that it  was not                                                                    
the  time   to  cut  lifesaving  services   to  victims  and                                                                    
survivors.  He asked  the committee  to consider  allocating                                                                    
general  funds to  cover the  federal funding  shortfall. He                                                                    
listed  various  support  services provided  by  the  Tundra                                                                    
Women's Coalition.  He stressed  that a 34  percent decrease                                                                    
would mean entire  programs would have to be  cut. He stated                                                                    
that  the coalition  provided life  and  death services  and                                                                    
crime victims should not bear the brunt of the cuts.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:01:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BROOK IVY, ALASKA OIL AND  GAS ASSOCIATION (AOGA), ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via   teleconference),  provided   information  on   AOGA's                                                                    
mission. She detailed that one  of AOGA's primary priorities                                                                    
was to maintain fiscal  stability and consistency, including                                                                    
advocating  for  a long-term  solution  for  the payment  of                                                                    
approximately $744 million in  outstanding liability for the                                                                    
refundable  tax credit  program. The  association recognized                                                                    
the  budget issues  the  state  was facing  and  it was  not                                                                    
advocating a full immediate payout  of the credits; however,                                                                    
AOGA supported  funding of the statutory  payment updated in                                                                    
the  Department of  Revenue's  spring  forecast. She  shared                                                                    
that no  payments had been made  to the credits in  the past                                                                    
couple  of years.  She elaborated  that  the Alaska  Supreme                                                                    
Court  had ruled  a bonding  proposal was  unconstitutional;                                                                    
therefore, it  was increasingly important to  send a message                                                                    
to the  investors and  the oil industry  that Alaska  was an                                                                    
attractive  place   to  do   business.  She   stressed  that                                                                    
providing  funding   to  pay  the  full   statutory  minimum                                                                    
payments was very important to over half of AOGA's members.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:03:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER  HOEPFNER,  VICE   PRESIDENT,  CORDOVA  SCHOOL  BOARD,                                                                    
CORDOVA  (via teleconference),  testified  in  support of  a                                                                    
fiscal plan to provide  adequate, equitable, and predictable                                                                    
funding of  K-12 education in Alaska  utilizing 2019 student                                                                    
numbers. He supported funding for  Pre-K and full funding of                                                                    
the school bond debt  reimbursement. He stressed that school                                                                    
districts  were   achieving  results  and  gains,   some  at                                                                    
exceptional levels; however, funding  kept being reduced. He                                                                    
reported  that the  Consumer Price  Index  in Anchorage  had                                                                    
increased 27  percent in the  past 10 years, while  the Base                                                                    
Student Allocation (BSA) only  increased 8 percent. He noted                                                                    
that health  insurance for staff had  increased 326 percent.                                                                    
He  pointed out  that K-12  funding was  further reduced  by                                                                    
cost shifting.  He highlighted examples including  the state                                                                    
canceling its promise of school  bond debt reimbursement and                                                                    
cutting the  AMHS forcing  schools to fly  and fly  goods to                                                                    
town.  He  explained that  there  continued  to be  unfunded                                                                    
mandates annually that took money  away from the classrooms.                                                                    
He addressed the  drastic cuts in federal  VOCA funding that                                                                    
would result in decreased services for victims.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:06:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAWN SHEWMAKER, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
against  federal  funding  cuts  to  domestic  violence  and                                                                    
sexual assault services. She stressed  that the cut would be                                                                    
catastrophic  and  would   reduce  programs  throughout  the                                                                    
state.  She  shared  that  agencies  could  not  absorb  the                                                                    
funding  cuts.  The decrease  in  access  to services  meant                                                                    
survivors  would  not  have   support  services  needed  for                                                                    
healing.  She stated  that supporting  crime  victims was  a                                                                    
task  that  resided  with   everyone.  She  emphasized  that                                                                    
victims of violence should not  be shortchanged for the sake                                                                    
of budget decisions.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:08:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  JAFFERY,  UTQIAGVIK,   SELF  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in  support of funding  for public radio.  He detailed                                                                    
that   public  radio   provided  important   updates  during                                                                    
emergency situations.  Additionally, public  radio broadcast                                                                    
meetings,  Native cultural  events, local  and international                                                                    
news,  and  music.  The  radio   station  was  an  important                                                                    
lifeline  and  could  not  be  replaced  by  streaming  from                                                                    
another part of the state.  He supported funds for frontline                                                                    
social workers. He had witnessed  problems that could happen                                                                    
in  a  town when  social  workers  could not  be  adequately                                                                    
supported  by   the  Office   of  Children's   Services.  He                                                                    
supported   efforts  to   cut  back   on  the   intellectual                                                                    
development  disabilities waitlist.  He was  concerned about                                                                    
issues  around FASD.  He  supported  therapeutic courts  and                                                                    
other. He thanked the committee for its time.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:11:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARGE    SPONEKING,    AARP     ALASKA,    ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified in defense  of low income seniors                                                                    
in Alaska. She  highlighted the proposed cut  of $450,000 in                                                                    
the  governor's   budget  to  Alaska  Legal   Services.  She                                                                    
reported  that  if  the  cut   were  enacted,  Alaska  Legal                                                                    
Services projected  a cut in  capacity that would  result in                                                                    
818  fewer  low  income  Alaskans  receiving  services.  She                                                                    
shared that the organization already  had to turn away up to                                                                    
50 percent  of applicants  due to a  lack in  resources. She                                                                    
elaborated  that  the organization  had  seen  a 35  percent                                                                    
increase  in applications  during the  pandemic. She  shared                                                                    
that 40 percent of  the organization's caseload was provided                                                                    
to  Alaska  seniors.  She stated  that  AARP  supported  the                                                                    
recommendation by the Department  of Commerce, Community and                                                                    
Economic Development subcommittee  to eliminate the $450,000                                                                    
cut in the governor's  budget. The organization also opposed                                                                    
the  $35 million  unallocated  cut to  Medicaid  and a  $3.4                                                                    
million cut  to the Division of  Public Assistance staffing.                                                                    
She elaborated that Alaskans  were already experiencing long                                                                    
wait  times to  reach  staff and  services.  The cuts  would                                                                    
increase  those  wait times.  She  stated  that without  the                                                                    
benefits seniors would lose services.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:14:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS, SELF, PALMER  (via teleconference), believed the                                                                    
budget  was  bloated.  He  thought   the  state  was  paying                                                                    
teachers  to  not  teach  in   class.  He  did  not  support                                                                    
expanding Medicaid because it  was mandated. He believed the                                                                    
new   federal  administration   was  attacking   the  Second                                                                    
Amendment.   He   supported   an   upcoming   constitutional                                                                    
amendment  on a  spending  cap. He  thought the  legislature                                                                    
would continue spending the Permanent  Fund and would demand                                                                    
income taxes.  He thought  disaster declarations  related to                                                                    
the  pandemic were  unnecessary.  He  supported cutting  the                                                                    
administrative costs  of nonprofits. He wanted  PBS and arts                                                                    
funding to  be used  for public  safety instead.  He opposed                                                                    
the "bloated" budget.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:17:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KAREN  BIRD, SELF,  FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  shared                                                                    
that  she worked  as  the legal  director  for the  Interior                                                                    
Alaska Center  for Nonviolent Living. She  detailed that the                                                                    
agency's  program was  partially  funded  with federal  VOCA                                                                    
funds. She  reported that the funds  helped the organization                                                                    
fill  the gaps  and allowed  it  to serve  victims who  were                                                                    
unable to receive representation  from Alaska Legal Services                                                                    
or  the  Alaska  Network  on Domestic  Violence  and  Sexual                                                                    
Assault. She  asked the legislature to  allocate state funds                                                                    
to make  up for  the loss in  federal funding.  She detailed                                                                    
services the  federal funding  had enabled  the organization                                                                    
to provide. She  informed the committee that  there had been                                                                    
an increase  in violence  since the  start of  the pandemic.                                                                    
She stated  that a  loss in funds  would be  catastrophic to                                                                    
the state.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:19:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BERT  HOUGHTALING,  SELF,  BIG  LAKE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
stated  that he  found  it "disgusting"  there  had been  no                                                                    
attempt to  cut the budget.  He remarked that there  had was                                                                    
an additional $300 million in  revenue from oil, but instead                                                                    
of keeping  the budget  down, the legislature  had increased                                                                    
it.  He  believed  that  the K-12  system  was  failing  the                                                                    
state's children. He reported  that according to state data,                                                                    
66  percent   of  Alaska  9th   graders  tested   far  below                                                                    
proficiency in  English language  art and 70  percent tested                                                                    
below or  far below  in math. He  thought the  university in                                                                    
Alaska  was  a  failing  system. He  spoke  about  increased                                                                    
funding given to  the K-12 system from  the Coronavirus Aid,                                                                    
Relief, and  Economic Security (CARES)  Act. He  thought the                                                                    
healthcare  system  was  too  expensive.  He  expressed  his                                                                    
desire for a statutory PFD.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:22:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARMEN   GUZMAN,  UNIVERSITY   OF   ALASKA  ANCHORAGE   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke in  support of  deferred maintenance                                                                    
funding  for   the  University  of  Alaska   Anchorage.  She                                                                    
reported  that  in one  building  the  air conditioning  was                                                                    
running 100  percent of  the time. She  shared that  she was                                                                    
having  health issues  and the  building  condition was  not                                                                    
healthy.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:24:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNE MCCABE,  SELF, SOLDOTNA (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support of  education funding.  She shared  that she  was an                                                                    
educator  for  the  Kenai  Peninsula  School  District.  She                                                                    
thanked the  committee members  for their  hard work  on the                                                                    
budget. She did  not believe the school  system was failing.                                                                    
She  highlighted that  students were  coming back  with many                                                                    
more challenges  than they  had prior  to the  pandemic. She                                                                    
explained that her  job was to ensure that  brick and mortar                                                                    
high school students  who also took online  classes, had the                                                                    
skills  to  be successful.  She  reported  that high  school                                                                    
students and most  college students did not  have the skills                                                                    
to be successful  online. She spoke to  the reasons students                                                                    
had  worked from  home over  the  past year.  She wanted  to                                                                    
ensure  that  students  had the  appropriate  skills  to  be                                                                    
successful online.  She stressed  that many  students needed                                                                    
extra  support  at  present.  She  asked  the  committee  to                                                                    
reconsider   the  average   daily   membership  (ADM).   She                                                                    
recommended  looking   at  budget  numbers  that   were  not                                                                    
reflective of a pandemic.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:27:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL KALLANDER, SELF,  ANCHORAGE   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
shared  the critical  nature of  nonprofits in  communities.                                                                    
She shared  that she worked  in Anchorage and had  been born                                                                    
and raised  in Cordova  in a fishing  family. She  cited the                                                                    
Cordova  Family  Resource Center  as  one  of the  important                                                                    
organizations in Cordova. She  relayed that the organization                                                                    
had been  notified the previous week  of a 30 to  34 percent                                                                    
cut  in the  coming year.  She reported  that the  reduction                                                                    
would  cut  critical   response  capabilities  for  domestic                                                                    
violence  cases,   including  legal  support   services  and                                                                    
limited office  hours. She stressed  that Alaska was  one of                                                                    
the most  dangerous places  to be a  woman. She  stated that                                                                    
COVID-19 had complicated access  and safety for victims even                                                                    
more. She asked committee members  to pause and consider the                                                                    
ripple  impacts  the cuts  would  have.  She concluded  that                                                                    
protecting the most vulnerable Alaskans  in crisis should be                                                                    
as imperative as any other funding priority.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:29:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BERTHA  SULUNULIK KOWELUK,  EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, BERING  SEA                                                                    
WOMEN'S  GROUP,  NOME  (via teleconference),  spoke  against                                                                    
cuts  to  federal VOCA  funds.  She  shared  that she  is  a                                                                    
survivor  of  domestic  violence  and  sexual  assault.  She                                                                    
expressed that she felt blessed  to heal from her experience                                                                    
through  family support.  She stated  that many  individuals                                                                    
did  not   have  a  support   system.  She   emphasized  the                                                                    
importance  of the  services provided  by  the shelter.  She                                                                    
appreciated  Governor  Dunleavy's  recognition of  April  as                                                                    
Sexual Assault Awareness Month and  for recognizing the need                                                                    
for more  prosecuting attorneys in  the Department  of Law's                                                                    
budget  to respond  to backlog  cases. She  shared that  the                                                                    
agency had  been notified that  federal VOCA funds  would be                                                                    
reduced  by  $4.1  million, which  would  significantly  cut                                                                    
grants for FY  22. She elaborated that the cut  would mean a                                                                    
decrease  of  $175,000  in the  organization's  budget.  She                                                                    
stressed that crime  victims should not be  expected to bear                                                                    
the brunt  of the  cuts. She  underscored the  importance of                                                                    
services to keep families together.  The cuts would mean the                                                                    
organization  would  have to  reduce  staff.  She asked  the                                                                    
committee  to  come  up  with  a  solution  to  the  funding                                                                    
shortfall.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALPHRED WALLACE,  SELF, BETHEL (via  teleconference), voiced                                                                    
support  for  the Tundra  Women's  Coalition  in Bethel.  He                                                                    
thanked  the Department  of Public  Safety subcommittee  for                                                                    
working to  fully fund victims'  services through  CDVSA. He                                                                    
shared that  the organization had  learned in the  past week                                                                    
of  the  over 34  percent  cut  to  federal VOCA  funds.  He                                                                    
underscored that the cuts would  have devastating impacts on                                                                    
the  organization  and  survivors. He  stressed  that  crime                                                                    
victims  should not  be expected  to bear  the brunt  of the                                                                    
costs. He  provided statistics  showing the  critical nature                                                                    
of  the organization  to the  community. He  fully supported                                                                    
the Tundra Women's Coalition. He  had grown up in Bethel and                                                                    
had witnessed the importance of  the lifesaving supports for                                                                    
victims.  He  asked  the committee  to  consider  allocating                                                                    
general funds to cover the shortage in federal funds.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:35:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NANCY PEASE, SELF, ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
support of funding for domestic  violence and sexual assault                                                                    
programs,  such as  Standing Together  Against Rape  (STAR).                                                                    
She  stressed that  STAR  had been  critical  for helping  a                                                                    
young  man who  had  been  assaulted by  a  coworker in  the                                                                    
workplace  lunchroom. She  shared that  the individual  is a                                                                    
minority  and  neuroatypical.  She reported  that  STAR  had                                                                    
helped  the   individual  to  file  a   police  report.  She                                                                    
elaborated that  the help  from STAR was  the first  step to                                                                    
recovery for her young friend.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Pease  shared a second  story about her time  working in                                                                    
rural  Alaska in  the past.  She  recalled hearing  constant                                                                    
referenced  by  school  children to  domestic  violence  and                                                                    
sexual harassment in  their lives. She noted  there had been                                                                    
nothing  specific enough  for her  to report.  She explained                                                                    
that she had asked the  school principal about the situation                                                                    
and the  principal had  replied that  he felt  paralyzed and                                                                    
that he left  the room when teenagers  started their talking                                                                    
circle. She  elaborated that the  principal had told  her he                                                                    
would  be  required  to report  students'  cousins,  uncles,                                                                    
brothers,  grandfathers, and  neighbors  if  he listened  to                                                                    
their  discussions. She  emphasized that  the best  response                                                                    
the  school principal  had was  to not  listen to  students'                                                                    
discussions because it would mean  having to report numerous                                                                    
members of  the community.  She recalled feeling  stunned by                                                                    
the  information. She  stressed  that  funding for  domestic                                                                    
violence  and sexual  assault was  critical.  She asked  the                                                                    
committee to keep the services fully funded.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:37:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SIERRA  BROWN, SAFE  HOME OUTREACH  COORDINATOR, BERING  SEA                                                                    
WOMEN'S GROUP,  NOME (via  teleconference), shared  that she                                                                    
worked  as a  safe  home women's  coordinator. She  detailed                                                                    
that the safe  homes helped victims have a safe  place to go                                                                    
before  going   to  the  Bering   Sea  Women's   Group.  She                                                                    
emphasized  that  the  cuts  would   affect  the  women  and                                                                    
children of the  region. She stressed the  importance of the                                                                    
services to keep families together.  She had seen first-hand                                                                    
the lifesaving  services offered  to victims. She  asked the                                                                    
committee to consider allocating  general funds to cover the                                                                    
VOCA federal  funding shortfall. She underscored  it was not                                                                    
the time to cut victims' services.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:38:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE SONGER,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CORDOVA  FAMILY RESOURCE                                                                    
CENTER  (via teleconference),  thanked Co-Chair  Merrick and                                                                    
the   DPS  subcommittee   for  fully   funding  CDVSA.   She                                                                    
highlighted  the  federal  cut  of 30  to  33  percent.  She                                                                    
elaborated that the cut would  mean a loss of $80,435, which                                                                    
would mean  cutting 45 percent  of her staff.  She expounded                                                                    
that  the cuts  would  limit the  organization's ability  to                                                                    
provide services  responding to sexual assault  and domestic                                                                    
violence.  The organization  would not  have the  ability to                                                                    
maintain its  current level of services.  The Cordova Family                                                                    
Resource Center  had seen  a 50  percent increase  to sexual                                                                    
assault  response   and  callouts  in  recent   months.  She                                                                    
implored  the committee  to  find funds  to  cover the  VOCA                                                                    
shortfalls.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:40:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  SHAFFER,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared that he  worked as a prosecutor in  Anchorage and had                                                                    
prosecuted  domestic violence  cases for  over 15  years. He                                                                    
provided  information  about  other  work he  had  done.  He                                                                    
emphasized his support and the  incredible need for domestic                                                                    
violence  and  sexual  assault services.  He  addressed  the                                                                    
vulnerability of  domestic violence victims. He  shared that                                                                    
he worked with victims on a  daily basis who needed help and                                                                    
support with  things like safe housing,  help with children,                                                                    
and  other.  He  stressed that  individuals  were  extremely                                                                    
vulnerable to their abusers unless  they had avenues of help                                                                    
and resources provided by the  federal funding that had been                                                                    
stripped without  much notice.  He stated that  whatever the                                                                    
legislature  could do  to make  up for  the federal  funding                                                                    
shortfall  would  be  enormously important  for  Alaska  and                                                                    
victims.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:43:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MONICA  CHARLES, SELF,  BETHEL (via  teleconference), shared                                                                    
that she is  a board member on the  Tundra Women's Coalition                                                                    
board. She  discussed that Alaska  had the highest  rates of                                                                    
domestic  violence and  sexual assault  in the  country. She                                                                    
highlighted that rural  areas off the road  system often had                                                                    
higher  rates of  violence and  fewer services  available to                                                                    
victims. She  stressed that cuts to  victims' services would                                                                    
hurt  the  most underserved  voices  in  every community  in                                                                    
Alaska, which  in turn  would affect  healthcare, education,                                                                    
juvenile  justice,  corrections,   public  safety,  and  the                                                                    
general workforce.  She highly  encouraged the  committee to                                                                    
determine a  way to  fully fund the  services and  cover the                                                                    
VOCA   shortfall  for   the  next   couple  of   years.  She                                                                    
underscored  that  the  legislature's  action  would  impact                                                                    
every family throughout Alaska.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:45:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MELISSA HEWER,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SUSITNA  RIVER COALITION                                                                    
(via  teleconference),   supported  a  cut  to   the  Alaska                                                                    
Industrial  Development  and  Export Authority  (AIDEA)  and                                                                    
Alaska  Energy Authority  (AEA)/  budgets.  She stated  that                                                                    
AIDEA had nearly  $400 million in uncommitted  funds and did                                                                    
not need any funding in  the budget. She believed the budget                                                                    
should  take money  from AIDEA.  She opined  that AIDEA  was                                                                    
acting  outside  of the  best  interest  of Alaska  and  was                                                                    
disregarding the  Public Meetings  Act and  regulations. She                                                                    
remarked  that  AIDEA  had spent  hundreds  of  millions  of                                                                    
dollars  pursuing failed  and  unwanted projects,  including                                                                    
the  Knik Arm  Bridge and  other projects.  She thought  the                                                                    
legislature should  be handling  the large  expenditures and                                                                    
conducting  true cost  benefit analysis  before millions  of                                                                    
dollars were spent on unfinished  projects. She spoke to the                                                                    
difficulty  for the  public to  participate in  the agency's                                                                    
meetings.  She stressed  that both  organizations needed  to                                                                    
develop publicly  available written justification  for AIDEA                                                                    
board  decisions, including  responding  to public  comment.                                                                    
She remarked  that the agencies generally  voted unanimously                                                                    
against public  opinion. The state was  not benefitting from                                                                    
the majority of the projects.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:46:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LANCE JOHNSON, DIRECTOR,  BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES, NORTON                                                                    
SOUND  HEALTH,   NOME  (via  teleconference),   thanked  the                                                                    
committee  for  understanding  that  increased  funding  for                                                                    
behavioral  health services  was paramount.  He stated  that                                                                    
despite the  evidence that  rampant substance  use concerns,                                                                    
backlog psychiatric  facilities, and  service reimbursements                                                                    
were  inadequate  to  meet the  expenses  of  providing  the                                                                    
services, there  was a disconnect  between the  magnitude of                                                                    
the problem  and appropriate funding. He  believed proposing                                                                    
a $1.25 million addition  to the behavioral health treatment                                                                    
and recovery  grant line was  a step in the  right direction                                                                    
after  years of  cuts.  He disputed  the misconception  that                                                                    
grants supporting behavioral health  services were no longer                                                                    
needed  after  the implementation  of  the  1115 waiver.  He                                                                    
stated  there was  no baseline  for expected  reimbursements                                                                    
and  outcomes  under  the  waiver because  it  was  new.  He                                                                    
stressed there  had to be  other support to  ensure agencies                                                                    
could  remain viable.  He  underscored  that cutting  grants                                                                    
would  undermine   the  successful  implementation   of  the                                                                    
waiver. He noted he had  provided the information in written                                                                    
testimony.  He  spoke  to the  dangers  of  providing  fewer                                                                    
services.  He  thanked  the   committee  members  for  their                                                                    
service to the state.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick  provided the email for  written testimony.                                                                    
She shared  information about the meeting  for the following                                                                    
day.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:49:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 3:50 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB69 HF Public Testimony 4.9.21 PART 1.pdf HFIN 4/9/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 69
HB69 HF Public Testimony 4.9.21 PART 2.pdf HFIN 4/9/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 69