Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/12/1996 02:10 PM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE February 12, 1996 2:10 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator John Torgerson, Chairman Senator Randy Phillips, Vice Chairman Senator Tim Kelly Senator Fred Zharoff MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Lyman Hoffman COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 14 Endorsing a proposal by which the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, under provisions of law by which the corporation may exercise its powers to complete moderate income and rental housing, will make interest-subsidized loans for the construction of student housing facilities at certain campuses of the University of Alaska, and relating to an agreement between the parties respecting the initiation of student housing on certain campuses of the University of Alaska. SENATE BILL NO. 163 "An Act approving the University of Alaska's plans to enter into long-term obligations to borrow money from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation for the acquisition of student housing facilities; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 229 "An Act relating to employment contributions and to making the state training and employment program a permanent state program; and providing for an effective date." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SCR 14 - See State Affairs minutes dated 5/2/95. SB 163 - See State Affairs minutes dated 5/2/95. SB 229 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated 2/7/96. WITNESS REGISTER Rebecca Nance, Director Division of Employment Security Department of Labor P.O. Box 25509 Juneau, AK 99802-5509 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 229 Arbe Williams, Director Division of Administrative Services Department of Labor P.O. Box 21149 Juneau, AK 99802-1149 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 229 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-5, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN TORGERSON called the Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee meeting to order at 2:10 p.m. SCR 14 UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA STUDENT HOUSING SB 163 APPROVE U OF A DEBT FOR STUDENT HOUSING SENATOR TORGERSON brought SCR 14 and SB 163 before the committee the first order of business. SENATOR KELLY noted that the Administration, as well as the House, are in support of SCR 14 and SB 163 and that the House Finance Committee is currently working on committee substitutes. He requested that the committee pass both pieces of legislation out of committee so that they can be worked on in Senate Finance and then their work will then be completed by the time the House legislation passes over to the Senate. SENATOR TORGERSON pointed out, for the record, that both pieces of legislation have a referral to the Health, Education and Social Services Committee before going to the Finance Committee. SENATOR KELLY moved that SCR 14 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. SENATOR KELLY moved that SB 163 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. SB 229 STATE TRAINING & EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM SENATOR TORGERSON brought SB 229 before the committee as the next order of business. He directed attention to a letter from Rebecca Nance of the Department of Labor providing additional information to the committee on questions raised during the February 7 hearing on the legislation. Number 070 REBECCA NANCE , Director, Division of Employment Security, in response to clarifying administrative costs for accounting and collection, explained that this is a U.S. Department of Labor compliance measure, which mandated that STEP's share for use of the federally funded collection and accounting system was computed to be 19 percent. She added that is 19 percent of the state's employment service tax data collection and accounting. SENATOR KELLY inquired how many people in the department collect these taxes. ARBE WILLIAMS , Director, Administrative Services, Department of Labor, replied that there are 19 positions in the tax section. The federal agreement requires that 19 percent of those total costs are reimbursed in the system. She clarified that the money is not sent back to the federal government; it is used for their internal operations. It allows those supplanted UI dollars in their field offices or in other operations of the Employment Security Division. She further clarified that the STEP program is funded with one-tenth of one percent of employees' contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The trust fund funds the benefit payments process through the Employment Security Division. SENATOR TORGERSON asked if employee/employer contribution ratings that must be posted for the Unemployment Insurance program show that part of the money they are paying is going for administrative costs for accounting and collection. REBECCA NANCE responded that the contribution is lumped together on the form. SENATOR TORGERSON asked that she look into whether it should be listed on the form separately should STEP become a permanent program. Number 200 REBECCA NANCE also clarified that the Employment Security Division received State Employment and Training Program Funds through two Reimbursable Services Agreements (RSAs) with DCRA, which are used for counseling, job seeking skills and employment assistance in local offices. These positions are located in Kenai, Fairbanks, Nome and Ketchikan. In addition, there are two positions in DCRA: one is a grants administrator and one is an internal auditor. Ms. Nance noted that she had provided the committee with an expanded list of contractors with the type of training that was provided from 1990 through 1994. The 1995 list is still not complete because they are waiting on the Fairbanks service delivery area, but she said she could provide the information on the other service delivery areas. SENATOR KELLY questioned if there wasn't a time frame for awarding these grants. Turning to the fiscal note, Ms. Nance said the $252,000 figure is projected for inter-agency transfer to the Department of Labor for Labor Market Information (LMI) so that they can track the program's success and connect it to the UI Trust Fund to see if there is a lesser impact on the trust fund. It also provides for the analysis of the data. SENATOR KELLY commented that it seems to him they are propping up the LMI with STEP money that they are not getting out of the general funds. ARBE WILLIAMS agreed, and added that a couple of years ago $50,000 was cut from their general funds and the Legislature specifically said that $50,000 would come from the STEP fund for analysis and production of the Alaska Resident Hire Report. The $252,000 provides a base for the ability for the department to evaluate not only the STEP program, but also track the success of clients in the JOBS program and the AVTEC program. SENATOR KELLY said it is pretty clear from the clarification of the fiscal note that we are entering some real soft uses for this STEP money; it is getting far beyond training people who are out of jobs. Number 300 SENATOR TORGERSON asked if their formula tracks to the LMI so that the money they allocate to their job training is to the at-risk occupations. ARBE WILLIAMS responded that this is one of the very few programs in the state where they can provide that kind of program evaluation. Number 325 SENATOR TORGERSON said he wouldn't roll the STEP program into some other employment program, but, by his count, there are currently 15 employment programs and he thinks that's too many. He said it is time to start consolidating some of them and doing away with a few positions, and he requested the committee be provided with information on the job programs currently running. There being no further testimony on SB 229, SENATOR TORGERSON stated it would be held in committee for further information, and then adjourned the meeting at 2:37 p.m.