Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

04/10/2021 10:00 AM FINANCE

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10:03:15 AM Start
10:04:26 AM HB69 || HB71
10:06:55 AM Public Testimony: All Offnet Sites
01:42:21 PM Adjourn
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                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      April 10, 2021                                                                                            
                        10:03 a.m.                                                                                              
10:03:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 10:03 a.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 Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Ron Carmen, Self,   Kenai; John Erickson,  Manager, City and                                                                    
Borough  of Yakutat,  Yakutat;  Anne Bailey,  Administrator,                                                                    
Aleutian  East  Borough;  Moe  Zamarron,  Manager,  City  of                                                                    
Unalakleet, Unalakleet; Anne  Dennis-Choi, President, Alaska                                                                    
Child and  Family, Anchorage;  Becky Long,  Self, Talkeetna;                                                                    
Pat  Branson,  Mayor,  City   of  Kodiak,  Kodiak;  Jennifer                                                                    
Walker,  Self,  Juneau;  Lesley  Anderson,  Human  Resources                                                                    
Manager,  Alaska   Child  and  Family,   Anchorage;  Jessica                                                                    
Plachta,  Executive   Director,  Lynn   Canal  Conservation,                                                                    
Haines;  Nicholas Szatkowska,  Self, Haines;  Gail Heineman,                                                                    
Self, Anchorage;  Elijah Jackson,  Mayor, City  of Ouzinkie,                                                                    
Ouzinkie;  Herman   Morgan,  Self,  Aniak;   Trevor  Storrs,                                                                    
President, Alaska Children's  Trust Anchorage; Susan Warner,                                                                    
Self, Gustavus;  Gina Agron, Self,  Eagle River;  Amy Lujan,                                                                    
Legislative Liaison,  Alaska Association of  School Business                                                                    
Officials, Juneau; Mindy  Hunter, Special Education Teacher,                                                                    
Homer;  Brenda  Moore,  Self, Anchorage;  Ed  Martin,  Self,                                                                    
Sterling; Greg  Weaver, Self, Wasilla; Dimitri  Shein, Self,                                                                    
Anchorage; Willy  Keppel, Self, Quinhagak;  Michele Girault,                                                                    
Key  Coalition of  Alaska, Anchorage;  Dianne Macrae,  Self,                                                                    
Kasilof;   Jennifer   Austin,  President,   Alaska   Women's                                                                    
Alliance, Anchorage; Abbe  Hensley, Executive Director, Best                                                                    
Beginnings,  Anchorage; Marsha  Thomason, Self,  North Pole;                                                                    
Katie  Bender,  President,  University of  Alaska  Anchorage                                                                    
Alumni Association Board, Anchorage.                                                                                            
HB 69     APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
          HB 69 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
HB 71     APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
          HB 71 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
PUBLIC TESTIMONY: ALL OFFNET SITES                                                                                              
Co-Chair Foster reviewed the agenda for the day.                                                                                
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."                                                                                                           
10:04:26 AM                                                                                                                   
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY: ALL OFFNET SITES                                                                                           
Co-Chair  Foster reviewed  the  call-in  numbers for  anyone                                                                    
wanting to testify  and the email address  for those wanting                                                                    
to submit written testimony.                                                                                                    
10:06:55 AM                                                                                                                   
RON CARMEN, SELF,   KENAI (via  teleconference), was calling                                                                    
in to testify on HB 79.                                                                                                         
Co-Chair  Foster clarified  that the  committee was  hearing                                                                    
testimony on HB 69 and HB 71.                                                                                                   
10:08:14 AM                                                                                                                   
JOHN  ERICKSON,  MANAGER,  CITY   AND  BOROUGH  OF  YAKUTAT,                                                                    
YAKUTAT  (via  teleconference),   expressed  concerns  about                                                                    
losing  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System (AMHS).  The city                                                                    
was  also  concerned  with  any  reductions  to  Power  Cost                                                                    
Equalization  (PCE) funds.  Currently,  the city's  electric                                                                    
rates were  about $.52  per kilowatt  hour rather  than $.28                                                                    
with  the help  of  PCE. The  city lost  money  in the  most                                                                    
recent batch  of federal funding relief  for COVID-19, which                                                                    
was used  to help small businesses,  particularly fishermen.                                                                    
The  city  originally received  $1.5  million  in the  first                                                                    
round of federal funding. In  the second round the city only                                                                    
received  $112,000 in  federal  funding which  could not  be                                                                    
used to replace lost revenues. He  also spoke to the need of                                                                    
revenue  sharing.   He  reported  that  the   Department  of                                                                    
Transportation  and Public  Facilities  (DOT) was  providing                                                                    
bottled  drinking water  at the  airport in  Yakutat due  to                                                                    
water contamination.                                                                                                            
10:10:52 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Ortiz thanked Mr. Erickson  for his testimony. He                                                                    
asked him  to speak to the  level of ferry service  of today                                                                    
compared to years ago.                                                                                                          
Mr. Erickson  had been the  city manager for about  8 years.                                                                    
He  indicated ferry  service had  been reduced  by about  50                                                                    
percent in his time at the city.                                                                                                
10:11:49 AM                                                                                                                   
ANNE  BAILEY,  Administrator,  ALEUTIAN  EAST  BOROUGH  (via                                                                    
teleconference), reported  that the borough  was responsible                                                                    
for the  municipal governance of the  communities of Akutan,                                                                    
Cold Bay,  False Pass,  King Cove,  Nelson Lagoon,  and Sand                                                                    
Point.  The  communities  consisted of  approximately  3,100                                                                    
residents and  had large transient fishing  populations. The                                                                    
borough   had  11   full-time  employees   who  filled   the                                                                    
obligations  of local  governments. The  local tax  base was                                                                    
raw fish tax. The remaining  revenue largely came from state                                                                    
and  federal   sources.  The   borough  had   been  impacted                                                                    
financially  by COVID-19.  In particular,  the pandemic  had                                                                    
impacted  the borough's  fisheries and  tax base.  She spoke                                                                    
about the potential for a  continued loss in revenue through                                                                    
FY 22. She  indicated that the Coronavirus  Aid, Relief, and                                                                    
Economic Security  (CARES) Act funds  could not be  used for                                                                    
revenue  replacement, nor  were  they  sufficient enough  to                                                                    
make  up  for the  borough's  losses.  The borough  faced  a                                                                    
deficit of  $1.9 million  in FY 22.  She requested  that the                                                                    
legislature  avoid  cost  shifting   and  making  cuts  that                                                                    
impacted  local government.  She  asked  members to  support                                                                    
fully funding  school bond  debt reimbursement,  harbor bond                                                                    
debt  reimbursement, community  assistance,  and to  address                                                                    
shared fish taxes.                                                                                                              
10:13:37 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Josephson  asked, if the state  were to fully                                                                    
fund  the school  bond debt  reimbursement, the  harbor bond                                                                    
debt  reimbursement, and  community assistance,  whether the                                                                    
borough would continue to have a deficit of $1.9 million.                                                                       
Ms. Bailey  responded that it  would be very helpful  if the                                                                    
legislature  funded  all  of the  items  the  representative                                                                    
listed. She relayed that at  the 50 percent level for school                                                                    
bond   debt  reimbursement   the  borough's   revenue  would                                                                    
increase by  $334,000. At  the 50  percent level  for harbor                                                                    
bond  debt reimbursement,  revenue would  increase by  about                                                                    
$300,000. The borough would still  have a deficit because of                                                                    
an  anticipated significant  decrease in  fish tax  revenues                                                                    
partially due to COVID-19 and low fish quotas.                                                                                  
Representative  Josephson asked  how the  borough would  fix                                                                    
the gap.                                                                                                                        
Ms. Bailey  responded, "Well, that's a  great question." She                                                                    
was in  the process of  trying to determine a  solution. She                                                                    
could  not cut  the borough's  way out  of the  deficit. She                                                                    
indicated that  cutting any  of the  11 positions  would not                                                                    
make  the  borough whole.  She  reviewed  costs the  borough                                                                    
would  incur including  deferred  maintenance. She  reported                                                                    
that  it would  be  impossible to  implement any  additional                                                                    
revenues by the following fiscal year.                                                                                          
10:15:27 AM                                                                                                                   
MOE ZAMARRON,  MANAGER, CITY OF UNALAKLEET,  UNALAKLEET (via                                                                    
teleconference),  thanked  the  committee for  its  work  on                                                                    
Power  Cost  Equalization  (PCE)  and for  money  that  went                                                                    
towards  the village  safe water  program. He  indicated the                                                                    
village underwent  a tough winter  in terms of  water losses                                                                    
and freeze-ups. At one time,  25 percent of the houses froze                                                                    
and were  left without water.  It appeared funding  would be                                                                    
available  to the  city to  improve its  drinking water.  He                                                                    
brought up  the need  for additional affordable  housing and                                                                    
noted  the  city  faced  construction  resource  challenges.                                                                    
Several  entities were  working  together  to bring  housing                                                                    
online   by    rehabilitating   buildings,    building   new                                                                    
facilities,  or repurposing  facilities.  He also  mentioned                                                                    
the need for regional jails  and a Division of Motor Vehicle                                                                    
(DMV)  office,  as  Unalakleet was  a  hub  for  surrounding                                                                    
villages. He  also hoped for  support for a solid  waste and                                                                    
recycling program.                                                                                                              
Co-Chair  Foster was  aware of  the water  issues Unalakleet                                                                    
was having.  He asked if  the city  intended to use  some of                                                                    
the  money  from the  American  Rescue  Plan Act  (ARPA)  in                                                                    
addition to what the city received from Village Safe Water.                                                                     
Mr. Zamarron  reported that the  city had  received approval                                                                    
for  some funding  through Village  Safe  Water which  would                                                                    
help  significantly  to  solve Unalakleet's  drinking  water                                                                    
 10:18:50 AM                                                                                                                  
ANNE DENNIS-CHOI, PRESIDENT,  ALASKA   CHILD   AND   FAMILY,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  reported her  organization                                                                    
provided  trauma-informed  behavioral   health  services  to                                                                    
Alaska's  most  vulnerable.  Adverse  childhood  experiences                                                                    
(ACEs) caused chronic stress that  could disrupt early brain                                                                    
development and  the development  of the nervous  and immune                                                                    
systems. If untreated,  a patient who had an  ACE could have                                                                    
life-long  consequences linked  to chronic  health problems,                                                                    
mental illness, and substance use problems in adulthood.                                                                        
Ms.  Dennis-Choi continued  that the  COVID-19 pandemic  had                                                                    
further   raised  concerns   about  ACEs   because  it   had                                                                    
dramatically  transformed  life  for children  and  families                                                                    
creating new  stressors and exacerbating existing  ones. She                                                                    
was  aware  the pandemic  had  had  a profound  affect.  For                                                                    
example, in  the 13  to 18  year-old age  group, intentional                                                                    
self-harm had  increased 80 percent  in March  2020 compared                                                                    
to  March  2019.  In  the  past year,  her  staff  had  been                                                                    
referred to as front line heroes.                                                                                               
Ms. Dennis-Choi  relayed that  despite being  called heroes,                                                                    
due to  years of funding  cuts, many frontline staff  had to                                                                    
work 2  jobs to make  ends meet.  Wages had been  frozen for                                                                    
years without  any cost  of living  increases. As  a result,                                                                    
the  behavioral health  system in  Alaska faced  significant                                                                    
workforce  challenges both  recruiting and  retaining staff.                                                                    
Staff were the people making  a meaningful difference in the                                                                    
lives of  children and their families.  She highlighted that                                                                    
Alaska   spent  a   significant  amount   of  resources   on                                                                    
corrections,  substance abuse,  and chronic  health problems                                                                    
related to ACEs. Intervening at  any age could be effective,                                                                    
but  the younger  the  better. She  urged  members to  fully                                                                    
support behavioral health treatment  and recovery grants and                                                                    
10:21:10 AM                                                                                                                   
BECKY LONG, SELF, TALKEETNA  (via teleconference), opposed a                                                                    
portion  of HB  69. She  did not  support the  $15.1 million                                                                    
slated  for the  Alaska  Industrial  Development and  Export                                                                    
Authority (AIDEA) operating budget.  She thought AIDEA acted                                                                    
with a  lack of transparency  in its board meetings  and its                                                                    
public  process.  She asserted  that  AIDEA  did not  follow                                                                    
through  with any  sort of  meeting standards  which created                                                                    
false  momentum   for  development  projects  such   as  the                                                                    
proposed  West  Susitna  Access without  addressing  serious                                                                    
concerns. She  did not trust  AIDEA. She indicated  that the                                                                    
AIDEA  executive  director  gave out  3  different  reasons,                                                                    
pitches,  uses,  or spins  for  $8.5  million for  the  West                                                                    
Susitna Access Project in the  general obligation bond bill.                                                                    
The director  of AIDEA provided  differing testimony  in the                                                                    
Senate  Finance Committee,  Senate Resources  Committee, and                                                                    
the House  Finance Committee.  As a  result, the  public did                                                                    
not trust AIDEA for accuracy.                                                                                                   
Ms. Long continued that AIDEA  spent 68 percent of its board                                                                    
meetings in  2020 in executive  sessions. On 3  occasions in                                                                    
2020, 80  percent of  the board  meetings were  in executive                                                                    
session.  In  February  2020,  the board  had  an  8.5  hour                                                                    
meeting of  which 8 hours  were spent in  executive session.                                                                    
She asserted  that the  board was  voting on  resolutions in                                                                    
secret with  the passing  unanimously. The  board's meetings                                                                    
started  at  different  times which  made  it  difficult  to                                                                    
determine what  time the board  was meeting.  She considered                                                                    
the  lack  of transparency  to  be  disenfranchising to  the                                                                    
public. She suggested that AIDEA's  budget should be blocked                                                                    
until  it  cleaned  up  its  open  meetings  practices.  The                                                                    
legislature  should take  back  control of  the mess  within                                                                    
AIDEA. She reiterated  all of the problems she  had with the                                                                    
way AIDEA conducted its business.                                                                                               
10:23:16 AM                                                                                                                   
PAT   BRANSON,   MAYOR,   CITY  OF   KODIAK,   KODIAK   (via                                                                    
teleconference),   fully  supported   community  assistance,                                                                    
school bond debt reimbursement,  and a functional year-round                                                                    
AMHS. The  city operated the  city jail and asked  for state                                                                    
support.  She emphasized  working  together  as partners  in                                                                    
solving  the state  budget issues.  She  also advocated  for                                                                    
rural transportation.                                                                                                           
10:25:39 AM                                                                                                                   
JENNIFER WALKER,  SELF, JUNEAU  (via teleconference),  was a                                                                    
teacher and  asked members to  fully fund  public education,                                                                    
school bond  debt reimbursement,  and to provide  timely and                                                                    
predictable  funding for  schools.  She  was seeing  chronic                                                                    
underfunding in  Alaska's schools. She provided  an example.                                                                    
Juneau's  elementary schools  shared one  art teacher  among                                                                    
six  schools and  halftime physical  education(P.E.), music,                                                                    
and library teachers. The students  in her elementary school                                                                    
had  45  minutes  of  P.E.,  and  the  American  Academy  of                                                                    
Pediatrics recommended  60 minutes of physical  activity for                                                                    
children per day. The counselor  at her school had twice the                                                                    
recommended load of students (1  counselor for 250 students)                                                                    
- there  was one  counselor for 500  students. Alaska  had a                                                                    
high  level of  trauma and  abuse  and was  facing a  mental                                                                    
health  crisis  from  the pandemic.  She  urged  members  to                                                                    
support education,  one of the  best investments  that could                                                                    
be made for Alaska's future.                                                                                                    
10:27:15 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Ortiz  thanked the testifier. He  heard her speak                                                                    
to  the lack  of services  within  her school.  He asked  if                                                                    
there had been  a gradual decline over a number  of years or                                                                    
whether the decline had been immediate due to COVID-19                                                                          
Ms. Walker  thought the decline had  occurred gradually. She                                                                    
had  been teaching  for the  past two  years. She  was aware                                                                    
that librarians  had been  cut to  half-time about  13 years                                                                    
10:28:18 AM                                                                                                                   
LESLEY ANDERSON,  HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER, ALASKA  CHILD AND                                                                    
FAMILY, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference),  spoke in support of                                                                    
increasing  the  mental  health  budget.  She  thought  most                                                                    
members  were likely  familiar with  the butterfly  effect -                                                                    
the idea that  one small change could have a  huge impact on                                                                    
the  future. The  staff of  Alaska Child  and Family  worked                                                                    
diligently  to  undo  the harsh  reality  of  the  butterfly                                                                    
effect  on students  who  came to  the  agency after  facing                                                                    
significant trauma in  their lives, often from  a very young                                                                    
age. Trauma  left lasting impressions and  impacted children                                                                    
long after  any abuse  or neglect  took place.  Alaska Child                                                                    
and Family  staff, through daily  work, helped to  alter the                                                                    
path of  the butterfly.  She testified  that her  staff were                                                                    
some of  the most  selfless people she  knew. They  were not                                                                    
motivated by money,  rather, they wanted to  see the changes                                                                    
they could make in students' lives.  Many of her staff had 2                                                                    
or 3  jobs in order  to make  a livable wage.  She suggested                                                                    
that with  additional mental  health funds  her organization                                                                    
could begin  to pay  its staff more.  She asserted  that one                                                                    
small change could lead to many more.                                                                                           
10:30:21 AM                                                                                                                   
JESSICA    PLACHTA,   EXECUTIVE    DIRECTOR,   LYNN    CANAL                                                                    
CONSERVATION, HAINES (via  teleconference), called attention                                                                    
to  Alaska  Industrial   Development  and  Export  Authority                                                                    
(AIDEA). She asserted  that AIDEA had been  operating with a                                                                    
free  reign  and a  cloaked  process  for too  long.  Alaska                                                                    
Industrial  Development   and  Export  Authority   had  been                                                                    
squandering  public  resources   without  meaningful  public                                                                    
input.  The list  of AIDEA's  boondoggle projects  was long,                                                                    
and she wanted  the legislature to ensure that  it would not                                                                    
get longer. She continued  that AIDEA had responsibility for                                                                    
an  ore  terminal  in  Skagway.  The  Skagway  terminal  was                                                                    
burdened  by a  toxic legacy  which would  be expensive  and                                                                    
difficult  to  clean up.  Recently,  an  AIDEA board  member                                                                    
expressed  the desire  to  hand Skagway  the  keys and  walk                                                                    
away.  Alaska Industrial  Development  and Export  Authority                                                                    
wanted to  move on to  cleaner pastures in Haines,  17 miles                                                                    
away. Haines  needed reliable ferry  service and  some barge                                                                    
dock  repairs.  However,  it  did   not  need  a  toxic  ore                                                                    
terminal.  The only  possible location  for an  ore terminal                                                                    
was in  an area  at known risk  of landslides  and tsunamis.                                                                    
She noted the  most recent Haines weather  disaster. She was                                                                    
concerned with  toxins affecting  salmon runs,  tourism, and                                                                    
the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.  She asserted that if AIDEA                                                                    
was going to be allowed  to continue to operate, they needed                                                                    
to consult  with the affected communities  including Haines,                                                                    
Klukwan, and the  surrounding area. She did not  want to see                                                                    
Haines end up with a toxic legacy.                                                                                              
10:32:52 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Josephson  asked  if AIDEA  was  looking  at                                                                    
investing in  the Palmer Constantine  Mine, an  ore terminal                                                                    
in Haines, or both.                                                                                                             
Ms. Plachta responded  that AIDEA kept its  cards close. She                                                                    
had heard  that they were  interested in moving some  of the                                                                    
infrastructure from  Skagway to Haines  in the area  she had                                                                    
described. They were likely in  conversations with Palmer as                                                                    
well  without  making  the   conversations  evident  to  the                                                                    
public.  She also  thought AIDEA  was in  conversations with                                                                    
Yukon  Mine  regarding  shipping  ore from  the  mine  to  a                                                                    
possible Haines terminal. She did not like the idea.                                                                            
10:33:53 AM                                                                                                                   
NICHOLAS  SZATKOWSKA,  SELF,  HAINES  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke against the way AIDEA  was spending its money. He felt                                                                    
that  AIDEA  was  subsidizing  corporations  that  were  not                                                                    
acting  in  the  best  interest of  Alaskans.  He  felt  the                                                                    
process  used  by AIDEA  was  socialistic.  Alaska had  high                                                                    
needs. He  also spoke of  the Haines State Forest  acting in                                                                    
favor of clear cut logging  which did not benefit Haines. He                                                                    
referred to it  as a boondoggle. He urged  members to reduce                                                                    
funding for  the Haines State  Forest to a level  that still                                                                    
allowed for local access.                                                                                                       
10:38:22 AM                                                                                                                   
GAIL HEINEMAN,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), asked                                                                    
members  not to  cut  University funding  or  draw down  the                                                                    
Permanent  Fund. She  thought  Alaska was  suffering from  a                                                                    
resource  curse.  She  felt   that  the  diversification  of                                                                    
Alaska's economy  was being neglected  in light of  the high                                                                    
profits  that   could  be  obtained  from   limited  natural                                                                    
resources  similar  to what  happened  in  Wyoming and  West                                                                    
Virginia.  Idaho  and  Texas  diversified  and  had  healthy                                                                    
economies.  She suggested  that  Alaska's  economy could  be                                                                    
diversified  by  investing  in the  University  which  would                                                                    
motivate young  people to come  to Alaska to  attend collage                                                                    
and families to raise their kids  in the state. She had read                                                                    
that the American Rescue Plan  contained $33 million for the                                                                    
University  of  Alaska  and more  for  k-12  schooling.  She                                                                    
mentioned  the maintenance  of effort  required and  how the                                                                    
compact between  the governor and the  University's Board of                                                                    
Regents  might  interfere. She  opined  that  the step  cuts                                                                    
instituted by  Governor Dunleavy were  unconstitutional. She                                                                    
also  advised  not to  draw  down  the Permanent  Fund.  She                                                                    
advocated the legislature apply  the percent of market value                                                                    
(POMV) law from 2018. She did  not want to see the Permanent                                                                    
Fund  diminished by  making extra  draws  from the  earnings                                                                    
reserve account.                                                                                                                
10:41:18 AM                                                                                                                   
ELIJAH  JACKSON,  MAYOR,  CITY OF  OUZINKIE,  OUZINKIE  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  commented that  it had  been a  rough year                                                                    
for the  community and that  self-reliance was  important in                                                                    
rural  Alaska. The  City of  Ouzinkie had  experienced major                                                                    
issues   with  its   generators   in   recent  months.   The                                                                    
community's  hydro   turbine  and   the  switch   gear  that                                                                    
controlled the  communications between  the two  had created                                                                    
an  unwanted reliance  on diesel  generation. The  community                                                                    
had  sought funding  for the  hydro turbine  and the  switch                                                                    
gear, but both  projects were pushed back  because of COVID-                                                                    
19. He noted  the community had exhausted almost  all of its                                                                    
funds rebuilding  its generators.  He reported the  city was                                                                    
paying $11,000 per month for  fuel to run its generators. He                                                                    
asked  the  legislature  to reinstate  local  the  emergency                                                                    
order. He  also requested  the legislature  recapitalize the                                                                    
Community  Assistance   Fund  to  $90  million   to  provide                                                                    
stability to local governments in  uncertain times. He urged                                                                    
members to avoid cost-shifting and to invest in Alaskans.                                                                       
10:43:06 AM                                                                                                                   
HERMAN  MORGAN,   SELF,  ANIAK  (via   teleconference),  //.                                                                    
[Difficult  to  hear his  testimony].  He  asked members  to                                                                    
support  a full  PFD. //.  He  urged the  legislature to  be                                                                    
careful in  accepting federal funding. //.  He advocated for                                                                    
budget cuts.  He spoke of  sanctuary cities. //. He  did not                                                                    
want to live like a  pauper while the legislature squandered                                                                    
state  funding.  //. He  spoke  of  students suffering  with                                                                    
having to wear masks. He thought legislators were smarter.                                                                      
10:46:44 AM                                                                                                                   
TREVOR STORRS, PRESIDENT,  ALASKA CHILDREN'S TRUST ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via  teleconference), spoke  of  the Victims  of Crime  Act                                                                    
(VOCA) federal  funding reduction. Children were  a valuable                                                                    
resource, but  some of them  were not treated as  such. Some                                                                    
children  suffered extreme  abuse leading  them to  attend a                                                                    
child  advocacy  center.  The loss  of  VOCA  funding  could                                                                    
greatly impact  children's' ability to get  the support they                                                                    
needed. He noted many of  the issues surrounding child abuse                                                                    
and  encouraged the  legislature  to fill  the VOCA  funding                                                                    
gap. He asserted that children were Alaska's future.                                                                            
10:49:23 AM                                                                                                                   
SUSAN WARNER, SELF, GUSTAVUS  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
support  of fully  funding AMHS.  She  also advocated  fully                                                                    
funding the Community Assistance Program.                                                                                       
10:50:24 AM                                                                                                                   
GINA AGRON, SELF, EAGLE  RIVER (via teleconference), thanked                                                                    
the  finance subcommittee  for fully  funding the  Anchorage                                                                    
Youth  Court.  She  spoke  of  the  benefits  that  her  son                                                                    
experienced  through the  program.  She  suggested that  the                                                                    
program  lead to  a better  appreciation of  how each  young                                                                    
person  fit  into the  larger  community.  She continued  to                                                                    
discuss the important effects the  Anchorage Youth Court had                                                                    
on participants.  She asserted that all  youth court members                                                                    
benefited from its programs.                                                                                                    
10:52:39 AM                                                                                                                   
AMY  LUJAN,  LEGISLATIVE   LIAISON,  ALASKA  ASSOCIATION  OF                                                                    
SCHOOL  BUSINESS  OFFICIALS,  JUNEAU  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
thanked members  for additional Pre-K funding.  She was glad                                                                    
for the  additional federal relief funding  for the COVID-19                                                                    
pandemic. She  asked members  to increase  education funding                                                                    
through the  base student allocation  (BSA), which  had been                                                                    
flat-funded at $5,930 since FY  17. She was grateful the BSA                                                                    
had not  been reduced. However, in  inflation adjusted terms                                                                    
the BSA was  currently more than $1,100 or  16 percent lower                                                                    
than it  was in  FY 07.  Also, pupil  transportation funding                                                                    
had remained  flat and  was not  keeping up  with inflation.                                                                    
Less  than  10  percent  of  construction  projects  in  the                                                                    
capital budget  had been funded  in recent years.  She noted                                                                    
school bond  debt reimbursement had been  reduced which made                                                                    
it difficult to  meet the needs of  school districts. Alaska                                                                    
needed a  broad-based fiscal plan  to address  the long-term                                                                    
needs of  the state. She  thought legislators had  begun the                                                                    
work  when they  set up  a POMV  plan a  few years  ago. She                                                                    
urged members not to kick the  can down the road. A plan was                                                                    
needed to avoid a fiscal cliff.                                                                                                 
10:55:23 AM                                                                                                                   
MINDY HUNTER,  PRE-K SPECIAL  EDUCATION TEACHER,  HOMER (via                                                                    
teleconference), called  in to testify  in favor of  SB 111,                                                                    
particularly   the   sunset   component.  She   was   asking                                                                    
legislators for  real investment  in Pre-K into  the future.                                                                    
She noted the Pre-K programs  helped to prepare students for                                                                    
kindergarten and  success. Statistics showed that  money was                                                                    
saved  with  Pre-K  education  by  not  needing  to  provide                                                                    
long-term intervention.  She provided a list  of skills that                                                                    
resulted from children  attending Pre-K programs. Pre-school                                                                    
would  influence education  through high  school. She  urged                                                                    
members to  support pre-school  education robustly  into the                                                                    
10:58:26 AM                                                                                                                   
BRENDA  MOORE, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support of  the operating budget. She  thought the budget                                                                    
reflected a desire to care  for people in appropriate levels                                                                    
of  care rather  than in  increased crisis  care and  higher                                                                    
cost  institutional  care. People  who  had  access to  care                                                                    
improved  their quality  of life.  She  thanked members  for                                                                    
funding  for the  behavioral health  treatment and  recovery                                                                    
grants,   frontline  social   workers,  intellectually   and                                                                    
developmental   disabilities,   Medicaid  health   coverage,                                                                    
sobering  centers,  Public  Assistance field  services,  the                                                                    
Office  of Child  Services,  Therapeutic  Courts, and  Civil                                                                    
Legal  Services. She  urged reconsideration  of  the use  of                                                                    
Alaska  Mental Health  Trust  Authority  (AMHTA) funding  to                                                                    
help fund the budget.                                                                                                           
11:01:45 AM                                                                                                                   
ED  MARTIN, SELF,  STERLING  (via  teleconference), did  not                                                                    
appreciate    comments   made    by   his    representative,                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter, about  not  needing  to supply  a                                                                    
full dividend or use federal  funding. He argued that taking                                                                    
the PFD away  from individuals was a terrible  idea. He also                                                                    
opposed the  legislature kicking the  can down the  road. He                                                                    
was discouraged by the actions  taken by the legislature. He                                                                    
did not  feel the University  of Alaska should  be receiving                                                                    
state  funds. Rather,  he thought  the University  should be                                                                    
self-supporting  by generating  revenue from  its lands.  He                                                                    
hoped his  representative would work  hard on behalf  of the                                                                    
people in  the Kenai  Borough. He asked  for deeper  cuts to                                                                    
the  budget.  He  strongly  disagreed  with  the  notion  of                                                                    
overheating the economy.                                                                                                        
11:04:29 AM                                                                                                                   
GREG  WEAVER,  SELF,  WASILLA  (via  teleconference),  spoke                                                                    
against  funding AMHS.  Alaska  was the  only  state in  the                                                                    
nation subsidizing such  a service. He advocated  for a move                                                                    
of  the capital  to  the  road system.  There  needed to  be                                                                    
accountability and  citizens from populous areas  sitting in                                                                    
the  committee  rooms.  He   reiterated  his  opposition  to                                                                    
subsidizing the ferry  system. He suggested that  no one was                                                                    
forcing people to live in the outlying areas of Alaska.                                                                         
11:08:19 AM                                                                                                                   
DIMITRI   SHEIN,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
thanked  the legislature  for its  work. He  supported youth                                                                    
court funding  at the FY 21  level. He had been  caught shop                                                                    
lifting  as a  teenager  and attended  the  program. It  had                                                                    
benefited him  by hearing  from other  young people  who had                                                                    
made similar  mistakes. He thought  the program  had brought                                                                    
the number  of cases  down. He  realized there  was overhead                                                                    
costs but argued that the  program was a good investment. He                                                                    
provided some personal information  related to the successes                                                                    
of going through  the youth court program. The  proof was in                                                                    
the pudding as  he was married, had 4  adopted children, and                                                                    
ran  his  own  non-profit  business.  He  asked  members  to                                                                    
continue to invest in the program.                                                                                              
11:11:01 AM                                                                                                                   
WILLY  KEPPEL,  SELF,  QUINHAGAK (via  teleconference),  was                                                                    
concerned with the  PCE program and thought it  needed to be                                                                    
reworked,  as  it  only  helped  with  residential  services                                                                    
rather than  businesses. He thought  the program  should not                                                                    
focus  on kilowatt  hours.  He indicated  PCE  had not  help                                                                    
businesses   such  as   the   local   store.  He   suggested                                                                    
subsidizing fuel costs rather than kilowatt hours.                                                                              
11:14:14 AM                                                                                                                   
MICHELE  GIRAULT, KEY  COALITION OF  ALASKA, ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  advocated   reducing  the   barriers  that                                                                    
Alaskans  with  disabilities  experienced.  Currently  there                                                                    
were  over 800  people  with  intellectual or  developmental                                                                    
disabilities  who  qualified  for services  but  were  still                                                                    
waiting for access  to funding. The state  currently drew 50                                                                    
people per  year. Therefore, the waitlist  would continue to                                                                    
be an issue  for decades. She spoke of a  boy in Cordova who                                                                    
had down  syndrome and autism  who had been on  the waitlist                                                                    
for  8   years.  She  provided   details  about   the  boy's                                                                    
circumstance. There  were some members of  the coalition who                                                                    
had been  on the  waitlist from  10 years  to 20  years. The                                                                    
coalition  thought  the  timeline  was  unconscionable.  She                                                                    
indicated that  some parents had  had to go into  poverty or                                                                    
give up  their children to  the Office of Child  Services in                                                                    
order to  get support for  their disabled children.  The Key                                                                    
Coalition  had worked  diligently  to change  the system  so                                                                    
that  children  with  disabilities  could  live  with  their                                                                    
families.   She  applauded   Representative  Josephson   for                                                                    
proposing additional funding  that would provide desperately                                                                    
needed services to an additional 20 recipients.                                                                                 
Co-Chair Foster indicated there  were no more people waiting                                                                    
to  testify.  The committee  would  take  an at  ease  until                                                                    
11:45 a.m.                                                                                                                      
11:17:33 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
11:46:39 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Foster  indicated there  were no testifiers  in the                                                                    
que.  He  reported  that  the   committee  would  resume  at                                                                    
12:15 p.m. He provided the email  address for anyone wanting                                                                    
to  submit  written  testimony.  He  also  provided  call-in                                                                    
numbers for verbal testimony.                                                                                                   
11:48:28 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
12:16:45 PM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Foster indicated the  committee would continue with                                                                    
public testimony.                                                                                                               
12:17:01 PM                                                                                                                   
DIANNE MACRAE,  SELF, KASILOF (via  teleconference), thanked                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter for  encouraging  her to  testify.                                                                    
She asked about Medicare monies.  Her husband was a Medicare                                                                    
recipient and was disabled. She  suggested there was a large                                                                    
chunk  of  funding  available. She  thought  the  state  was                                                                    
wasting  money. She  noted that  Medicaid often  helped with                                                                    
travel. She  suggested that every  home should have  a blood                                                                    
pressure  cuff.   She  favored   telehealth  as   a  cheaper                                                                    
alternative to  traveling to receive care.  She thought many                                                                    
things could be cut from the budget that were over-funded.                                                                      
12:20:38 PM                                                                                                                   
JENNIFER   AUSTIN,  PRESIDENT,   ALASKA  WOMEN'S   ALLIANCE,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  advocated for  funding for                                                                    
mental  and behavioral  health. Since  the beginning  of the                                                                    
COVDID-19  pandemic things  had deteriorated.  She spoke  of                                                                    
children  having to  be  relocated out  of  their home.  She                                                                    
thought  providing  behavioral  and mental  health  care  to                                                                    
address issues  would be beneficial  at a time  where people                                                                    
felt disconnected. Patient-provider  contact was critical in                                                                    
the  current pandemic.  She also  advocated for  funding for                                                                    
families and patients around the issue of suicide.                                                                              
12:23:54 PM                                                                                                                   
ABBE   HENSLEY,   EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR,   BEST   BEGINNINGS,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  thanked the  committee for                                                                    
its   continued  support   for   early  childhood   programs                                                                    
including  Head Start,  Parents as  Teachers, Pre-K  grants,                                                                    
and Best  Beginnings. She encouraged members  to approve the                                                                    
addition of $5  million to the Pre-K  grants allocation from                                                                    
lapsed  funds  in  the residential  school  program  due  to                                                                    
COVID-19. She  noted that  the Imagination  Library program,                                                                    
part of Best Beginnings, was  very beneficial to children. A                                                                    
recent  study  showed  that  children  who  participated  in                                                                    
Imagination  Library   had  higher  rates   of  kindergarten                                                                    
readiness. The  study was consistent across  student groups.                                                                    
She  provided   a  list   of  benefits   including  improved                                                                    
proficiency skills and reading  achievement. She thanked the                                                                    
committee for its support for early childhood learning.                                                                         
12:27:10 PM                                                                                                                   
MARSHA THOMASON, SELF, NORTH  POLE (via teleconference), was                                                                    
a  re-entry case  manager.  She did  not  agree with  taking                                                                    
monies  from  the  Alaska   Mental  Health  Trust  Authority                                                                    
reserves  to  fund the  budget.  She  supported funding  for                                                                    
Therapeutic Courts, sobering  centers, and behavioral health                                                                    
grants. She asserted  that people did better  in their lives                                                                    
with support.                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Foster indicated  the  committee  would return  at                                                                    
1:00 p.m., as there were no testifiers online presently.                                                                        
12:29:42 PM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
1:02:20 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster  relayed that  the committee  would continue                                                                    
hearing public testimony.                                                                                                       
1:02:41 PM                                                                                                                    
KATIE  BENDER,  PRESIDENT,  UNIVERSITY OF  ALASKA  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
ALUMNI  ASSOCIATION BOARD,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in  support of funding  for the University  of Alaska.                                                                    
She asserted that the University was the state's future.                                                                        
Co-Chair  Foster indicated  the  committee  would return  at                                                                    
1:30  p.m.,  as there  were  no  further testifiers  online.                                                                    
[Another testifier appeared online.]                                                                                            
1:04:15 PM                                                                                                                    
Shannon Hunt,  Self, Georgia{had  been a victim  of domestic                                                                    
violence in  Alaska. She was calling  regarding the decrease                                                                    
in  federal  funding.  She relayed  some  statistics  around                                                                    
domestic  violence. She  spoke  of the  resources that  were                                                                    
provided  to her  after  she had  been  attacked. She  urged                                                                    
members  to fill  the federal  funding shortfall  with state                                                                    
dollars. It  was traumatizing  for her  to testify,  but she                                                                    
did  not want  to see  the  agency go  without funding.  The                                                                    
unserved  population that  would  otherwise  be left  behind                                                                    
needed additional funding.                                                                                                      
Co-Chair  Foster  thanked Ms.  Hunt  for  her testimony.  He                                                                    
noted  that  at the  state  level  there  were a  number  of                                                                    
entities concerned  about the gap in  federal funding. There                                                                    
were no  further testifiers signed  up. The  committee would                                                                    
return at 1:40 p.m. to hear further testimony.                                                                                  
1:08:19 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
1:41:07 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster indicated no one was online to testify.                                                                         
1:41:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster CLOSED Public Testimony.                                                                                        
HB  69  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
HB  71  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster  reviewed  the  agenda  for  the  following                                                                    
meeting on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.                                                                                  
1:42:21 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 1:42 p.m.                                                                                          

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