Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/24/1993 09:05 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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                             MINUTES                                           
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                        February 24, 1993                                      
                            9:05 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPES                                                                        
                                                                               
  SFC-93, #31, Side 1 (000-end)                                                
  SFC-93, #31, Side 2 (575-173)                                                
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Senator  Steve Frank,  Co-chairman, convened the  meeting at                 
  approximately 9:10 a.m.                                                      
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-chairs  Frank and  Pearce  and Senators  Kelly, Kerttula,                 
  Rieger, and Sharp  were present.  Senator Jacko arrived soon                 
  after the meeting began.                                                     
                                                                               
  ALSO  ATTENDING:    Senate President  Rick  Halford; Charlot                 
  Thickstun, Director, Division of Elections; Allen J. Cooper,                 
  Deputy   Director,  Division   of  Institutions,   Dept.  of                 
  Corrections; Sam Trivette, Director,  Community Corrections,                 
  Dept. of Corrections; Rick Barrier, Director, Administrative                 
  Services, Dept.  of  Corrections;  and  aides  to  committee                 
  members and other members of the legislature.                                
                                                                               
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
                                                                               
  SB 100 -  Act making supplemental and special appropriations                 
  for       the   expenses   of   state  government;   making,                 
            amending,  and  repealing  capital  and  operating                 
            appropriations;  and  providing  for an  effective                 
            date.                                                              
                                                                               
            Discussion was had  with staff  from the DEPT.  OF                 
            CORRECTIONS regarding supplemental funding for the                 
            department.                                                        
                                                                               
  CSHB 94-   An  Act making  a supplemental  appropriation for                 
  costs of (Fin) elections  operations;  and providing  for an                 
  effective           date.                                                    
                                                                               
            Testimony  was  provided  by   Charlot  Thickstun,                 
            Director of Elections.   The bill was subsequently                 
            HELD in committee for further review.                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 100                                                          
                                                                               
       An   Act   making    supplemental   and    special                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
       appropriations   for   the   expenses   of   state                      
       government;   making,   amending,   and  repealing                      
       capital   and   operating    appropriations;   and                      
       providing for an effective date.                                        
                                                                               
  Cross reference  to CCS  SB 165.   Supplemental  funding was                 
  ultimately included within CCS SB 165.                                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
  CONFERENCE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 165                                        
                                                                               
       An   Act  making   an  appropriation  to   the  Alyeska                 
       Settlement Fund  and  making  appropriations  from  the                 
       Alyeska   Settlement   Fund;   making,  amending,   and                 
       repealing  operating  and  capital appropriations;  and                 
       providing for an effective date.                                        
                                                                               
  ALLEN J. COOPER, Deputy  Director, Division of Institutions,                 
  Dept.  of  Corrections,  came  before  committee,  directing                 
  attention to a handout (Attachment A) containing an overview                 
  of  the  department's  FY  93   supplemental  request.    He                 
  referenced  last year's  plan to  cut $7.5 million  from the                 
  department budget.  That amount  included the prisoner phone                 
  system which was  estimated to  produce $300.0 in  revenues.                 
  The  food  service  consolidation saved  $125.0  beyond  the                 
  predicted  $650.0. The  department met the  estimated $100.0                 
  reduction  in   out-of-state  contractual   funding.     The                 
  estimated $410.0  reduction in  the training  unit was  also                 
  achieved.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Mr. Cooper  next referenced  reconfigurration and  personnel                 
  reductions.    At  the Fairbanks  Correctional  Center,  the                 
  department  planned  on reducing  8  positions.   Three were                 
  actually reduced,  and 5  remain due  to the  fact that  the                 
  center  is being  operated  at  approximately  45  prisoners                 
  beyond design capacity.                                                      
                                                                               
  The  department  planned on  cutting  2 positions  at Hiland                 
  Mountain (a  correctional officer  III and  a mental  health                 
  clinician).  Since the clinician involved mental health land                 
  trust funding, the  department was unable to  make that cut.                 
  Of the projected $117.8, only $45.0 was reduced.                             
                                                                               
  At  the Ketchican  Correctional Center,  the department  had                 
  slated four correctional officer positions for reduction for                 
  a total of $291.6.   When reductions were made,  the newest,                 
  lowest paid  employees were  laid off.   A  savings of  only                 
  $241.0 was thus achieved.                                                    
                                                                               
  The department planned on cutting  15 positions at the Lemon                 
  Creek  Correctional  Facility but  ended up  cutting 9.   To                 
  achieve that, the  department had  to double-bunk the  wings                 
  and housing modules, close  one dorm, etc.  There  have been                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  no  incidents as a result  of the reduction, and containment                 
  of prisoners in program areas is  better.  Overtime has also                 
  been reduced by an average of 350 hours a month.                             
                                                                               
  The department projected closing 19 beds in the old building                 
  at Mat-Su Pretrial.  After review, the department determined                 
  it was  unable to  do that  to achieve  the $432.8  savings.                 
  However,  the   assistant  superintendents  and   two  other                 
  positions were reduced for a savings of $232.3.                              
                                                                               
  At the Palmer Correctional Center  the department planned to                 
  cut $318.2, but  it was only  able to  reduce $224.1.   That                 
  reflects reduction of  a maintenance worker and  three other                 
  positions.   Funding  for  one position  was  also moved  to                 
  transportation to cut down on transportation costs.                          
                                                                               
  The department planned on cutting $111.4 on the Sixth Avenue                 
  Correctional  Center.     It  actually   cut  $54.8  for   a                 
  maintenance position.   The other anticipated cut  could not                 
  be  made  due to  furlough  demands associated  with placing                 
  "people in the community."                                                   
                                                                               
  Projections for the Spring Creek Correctional  Center called                 
  for  a  $129.9  reduction.     The  department  reduced  two                 
  correctional  officers but  missed  the projected  amount by                 
  $5.8 because the positions involved lower paid employees.                    
                                                                               
  The  department  achieved the  projected $250.0  in overtime                 
  reductions.   That reflects  a reduction  of $67.0  at Lemon                 
  Creek.   Last  year Spring  Creek  averaged 1,206  hours  of                 
  overtime per  month.   That has  been  reduced to  659.   At                 
  $36/hr. that equates to approxi-mately $36.0 per month.                      
                                                                               
  The department did  not accomplish  the projected $165.7  in                 
  reclassification of CO IIIs.  Mr. Cooper explained  that the                 
  issue relating  to time  accounting requires  many years  of                 
  experience.  It is not something a clerk can do.  A new time                 
  accounting manual has been written  and will be computerized                 
  within the next year.  That will aid in allowing CO  IIIs to                 
  exercise oversight responsibility.                                           
                                                                               
  The projected travel  reduction of  $130.8 actually  yielded                 
  $100.0.  The department is $30.8 short of its goal.                          
                                                                               
  Speaking to  Wildwood downsizing, Mr. Cooper  explained that                 
  the department began  the effort on  May 15.   Approximately                 
  149 prisoners were moved from the facility which is now down                 
  to 55 beds.   That was accomplished by maximizing  bed space                 
  in   community   placements.     A   "good-time"  regulation                 
  adjustment   also  assisted.     While   the   approach  was                 
  aggressive, the cyclical nature of inmate  population shifts                 
  produced an unanticipated increase.   In July the  state had                 
  an average  in-state population of  2,679.  In  December the                 
  average was 2,855 prisoners.  That is an average increase of                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  176 prisoners per  month.  Of that  amount, 136 are in  main                 
  institutions,  and  40  are in  halfway  houses.   Emergency                 
  capacity is 2,554 beds  with Wildwood at  145 beds.  On  the                 
  20th  and 21st  of  this  month,  the department  had  2,640                 
  prisoners  in  institutions.   That  is 90  prisoners beyond                 
  emergency  capacity.     In   the  past   17  years,   state                 
  institutions  have  not   experienced  a  similar   capacity                 
  problem.  It is  extremely difficult to manage in  that type                 
  of environment.    If  Wildwood  were  put  back  into  full                 
  operation at 204 beds, the state would still be 40 beds from                 
  meeting emergency capacity.                                                  
                                                                               
  Ten of the twelve institutions are presently in court  under                 
  Cleary.                                                                      
  A  rating  of  state  institutions  in 1982  indicated  that                 
  Alaska's system was the  sixth safest in the nation.  In the                 
  most  recent rating, Alaska remains high  in terms of safety                 
  due to the fact that staff is professional and dedicated and                 
  institutions are smaller.  The recommendation was to address                 
  population problems and  capacity issues.   The Commissioner                 
  was  appraised  of  that  recommendation.  He  went  to  the                 
  Governor, and the decision was made to open Wildwood.                        
                                                                               
  Discussion followed between Co-chairman Frank and Mr. Cooper                 
  regarding  inability to  fully  utilize Wildwood  because of                 
  lack of trained  personnel.  It will be May or June before a                 
  six-week academy will be offered, allowing the department to                 
  backfill  needed  positions  at  Cook Inlet,  Sixth  Avenue,                 
  Spring Creek, and Wildwood.  It will be July before Wildwood                 
  could be fully activated.                                                    
                                                                               
  The department is averaging  94% of 312 halfway house  beds.                 
  Fifty percent  of the  350 inmate  population of  the Palmer                 
  Correctional Center  has turned  over  through placement  in                 
  community  beds.  The Anchorage area  has averaged 2,600 out                 
  of  CRC for misdemeanant  and felony placements.   None have                 
  committed an offense  or violent  act.  At  this point,  the                 
  correctional system has shifted through  its population to a                 
  point  where it is  pushing the risk  factor associated with                 
  community placement.                                                         
                                                                               
  In response to a request  from Co-chairman Frank, Mr. Cooper                 
  explained  that   the  department   would  be  adding   back                 
  approximately  $1,996.0 for Wildwood,  for the  remainder of                 
  the year, to pick  up staffing (85 out of 108  positions are                 
  presently occupied).                                                         
                                                                               
  Directing attention  to the  projected  $100.0 reduction  in                 
  inmate  health  care,  Co-chairman  Frank  raised  questions                 
  associated with  the fact that  this area of  the department                 
  budget  has  apparently  been underfunded  for  a  number of                 
  years.  RICK  BARRIER came before  committee.  He  explained                 
  that the  $100.0 reduction reflects  cuts made by  the House                 
  Finance Committee.   The department  did not initially  plan                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  them.                                                                        
                                                                               
  The Northern  Region  found that  it  could not  obtain  the                 
  projected $198.1  reduction and continue  to provide  needed                 
  supervision of 3,700 probationers.   Co-chairman Frank noted                 
  a plan  to pull probation  officers from Nome  and Kotzebue.                 
  SAM TRIVETTE, Director,  Community Corrections, came  before                 
  committee.  He  concurred that projected savings  would have                 
  meant  closure  of  the  Kotzebue,  Dillingham,   and  Sitka                 
  probation offices.  Records indicate that there is currently                 
  a case load and a half at Dillingham, and Kotzebue and Sitka                 
  are  running close to  full case loads.   Anchorage services                 
  Dillingham, while Kotzebue and Sitka  are serviced from Nome                 
  and Juneau, respectively.  Staff restrictions at both Juneau                 
  and  Nome would  prohibit  servicing.   The  opinion of  the                 
  attorney  general was that  leaving these areas unsupervised                 
  would create  substantial liability for  the state.   It was                 
  thus determined  that closure  of the offices  would not  be                 
  feasible.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Discussion  followed  between   Co-chairman  Frank  and  Mr.                 
  Trivette regarding management of prisoners in outlying areas                 
  by  probation  personal  located  at  some  distance.    Mr.                 
  Trivette explained that  probation officers utilize whatever                 
  resources are  available in  the rural  community.   Contact                 
  people are often village public safety officers, a community                 
  health aide, pastor of a church, a village elder, etc.  Much                 
  of the contact is by telephone.                                              
                                                                               
  Further  comments   followed  by  Rick   Barrier,  Director,                 
  Administrative Services,  regarding intermediate  sanctions.                 
  He explained that  the department  would be requesting  $1.5                 
  million  for  that purpose.    Co-chairman Frank  voiced his                 
  understanding that if the supplemental was not provided, the                 
  beds would not be added.  Mr. Barrier concurred.  He further                 
  advised that  they are  not presently contracted  for.   Co-                 
  chairman Frank requested  a written analysis  of beds to  be                 
  added and  the existing  backlog of  individuals waiting  to                 
  serve time.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Mr.  Cooper  said  that the  actual  for  FY  92 was  $114.5                 
  million.   In April  of 1992,  the estimated  need was  $120                 
  million.   A net  reduction of  $7.7 million  resulted in  a                 
  total budget of  $112.3 million.   The department  proceeded                 
  with  an  aggressive effort  aimed  at reduction.   However,                 
  intake  and  remands  of  prisoners  in  the  system  placed                 
  additional stress on the department.                                         
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula noted that the  original budget was $116.0.                 
  OMB and House Finance required $4 million in reductions.                     
                                                                               
  Discussion  followed  between  Mr.  Barrier and  Co-chairman                 
  Frank  regarding  inmate  health  care.    Senator  Kerttula                 
  acknowledged need to get on top of the issue.                                
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Frank pointed  to a notation which  read "reduce                 
  pay to 3.5%,  no impact on DOC operations."   He then sought                 
  clarification.   Mr. Barrier explained  that the  Governor's                 
  budget assumed a 5% pay increase.  The reduction to 3.5% was                 
  thus an easy cut.                                                            
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger inquired regarding those  in the CRC program,                 
  asking  if  they  are  included  within correctional  system                 
  health care.  Mr. Barrier explained that the care extends to                 
  "anyone that is in the care  and custody of the department."                 
  Mr.  Cooper noted that  those on probation  are not covered,                 
  those who are  electronically monitored fall  under pretrial                 
  diversion and  are not  covered, but  those  on furlough  in                 
  halfway houses  for the  last few  months of  their sentence                 
  prior to release into the community  are still under custody                 
  and would be  covered.   In response to  a further  question                 
  from Senator Rieger,  Mr. Cooper  said that average  custody                 
  for   1992  was   approximately   2,650.     That   includes                 
  institutions and halfway houses.   He further noted that the                 
  custody number for February of this year was 3,034.                          
                                                                               
  Pointing to  estimated expenditure  of over  $9 million  for                 
  medical care,  Senator Rieger voiced his  understanding that                 
  the state is paying  "over $3,000 per prisoner,  on average.                 
  Mr.  Cooper explained that that amount  would be spread over                 
  total man-day costs  which cover  bookings and prisoners  in                 
  state custody  for only a short  period.  On that  basis the                 
  cost is approximately  $8.97 per day.   Senator Rieger noted                 
  frustration over the fact that  many Alaskans are unable  to                 
  afford $3,000 a year for health care.                                        
                                                                               
  End, SFC-93, #31, Side 1                                                     
  Begin, SFC-93, #31, Side 2                                                   
                                                                               
  Mr.  Cooper  advised  that litigation  issues  drive medical                 
  costs to higher levels.  Demands  forced upon the system are                 
  increasing.  The Commissioner is  attempting to get a health                 
  care administrator to  directly supervise this area  and try                 
  to get a handle on it.                                                       
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula asked if the department routinely tests for                 
  AIDS.  Mr. Cooper responded that  testing is voluntary.  The                 
  department tests those shown to be predatory promiscuous and                 
  can segregate  those individuals.   The  correctional system                 
  presently  has  14  prisoners  with  AIDS  related problems.                 
  Thirteen have  tested positive  for HIV,  and one  has AIDS.                 
  Dr. Townsend  has  suggested  that  community  placement  of                 
  terminally ill offenders would cost  substantially less than                 
  the current $500.0 per year.                                                 
                                                                               
  Discussion followed between Senator  Kerttula and Mr. Cooper                 
  regarding  segregation  of  inmates who  are  ill.   Further                 
  discussion  followed between  Mr. Cooper,  Mr. Barrier,  and                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp relating  to pre-existing conditions.      Mr.                 
  Barrier  explained  that  only  medical  needs  meeting  all                 
  requirements  are  taken  care  of.     The  medical  budget                 
  committee denies 50%  of all requests for  treatment outside                 
  of the  institution.  There  is an extensive  review process                 
  before services  are provided.    Only medical  requirements                 
  which meet standards set forth in law are approved.  Senator                 
  Kerttula  commented that  his past  experience  with medical                 
  care  provided  to  prisoners  indicates   that  it  is  not                 
  overdone.                                                                    
                                                                               
  At  the  conclusion  of  the presentation  by  the  Dept. of                 
  Corrections,  Co-chairman Frank directed that the meeting be                 
  briefly recessed.                                                            
                                                                               
                       RECESS - 10:05 A.M.                                     
                     RECONVENE - 10:20 A.M.                                    
                                                                               
                                                                               
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 94(FIN)                                                
                                                                               
       An  Act making  a  supplemental appropriation  for                      
       costs of  elections operations; and  providing for                      
       an effective date.                                                      
                                                                               
  CHARLOT  THICKSTUN, Director,  Division  of Elections,  came                 
  before committee.  She explained  that the supplemental bill                 
  began  as a request  for $891.5  (SB 74)  to cover  costs of                 
  election operations for  FY 93.   In House Finance the  bill                 
  was  amended to cover costs  only until April  30, 1993.  It                 
  now totals $312.3.                                                           
                                                                               
  Shortfalls  within  the  division  resulted from  unbudgeted                 
  reapportionment costs, higher election costs resulting  from                 
  litigation surrounding  both reapportionment and  the closed                 
  primary, and changes in deadlines.   The division originally                 
  proposed that  supplemental funding  for reapportionment  be                 
  included as an agenda item for the special session called by                 
  Governor Hickel last  June.  That  request for $1.6  million                 
  was  submitted to  the Office  of Management and  Budget for                 
  review.  OMB was able to justify $961.1.                                     
                                                                               
  When budgeting needs  were not addressed during  the special                 
  session,  the  division relied  upon  the  Dept.  of Law  to                 
  ascertain  whether  operating  funds  could  be  expended on                 
  unbudgeted reapportionment-related functions.   The division                 
  was advised that  allocations are  not budgeted by  election                 
  function.  Rather, they represent a total allocation for all                 
  election-related  activities  within  the  division.     The                 
  division  was  also informed  that  it  was mandated  to  go                 
  forward in order to  facilitate the 1992 national  and state                 
  elections.                                                                   
                                                                               
                                                                               
  In a normal  year, the division begins preparations for fall                 
  primary  and general  elections  in March.    In 1992,  that                 
  preparation  could  not  be  started   because  of  lack  of                 
  finalization  of  reapportionment.     The  time-frame   for                 
  appointing election workers and preparing election materials                 
  was compressed  from six  to two  months.   It took  a great                 
  amount  of  staff  and  overtime   to  accomplish  what  was                 
  necessary in that restricted time period.                                    
                                                                               
  There was  never any  doubt the  division would  run out  of                 
  money.  The  question was  whether it could  last until  the                 
  legislature convened.                                                        
                                                                               
  The division has undertaken efforts  to cut operating costs,                 
  including elimination of three  full-time positions and  all                 
  temporary employees.    With the  exception  of  supervisory                 
  staff,  permanent employees have been reduced  to 30 hours a                 
  week.                                                                        
                                                                               
  While  HB  94  was  under  consideration in  House  Finance,                 
  $27,648 for ten, range 8 temporaries was  approved to finish                 
  data input of 30,000 voters onto registration rolls prior to                 
  Anchorage and Mat-Su municipal elections April 20.                           
                                                                               
  Mrs. Thickstun voiced her understanding  that an election is                 
  deemed  successful if  no  lawsuits ensue.    Based on  that                 
  criteria,  the division did  an exceptional job  in both the                 
  1990 and 1992 elections.  Voter  turnout for the most recent                 
  general  election set  a record  for Alaska  and was  eighth                 
  highest in the nation.                                                       
                                                                               
  Senator Kelly  voiced support for  the $312.0  supplemental,                 
  acknowledging  that,   in  light  of   reapportionment,  the                 
  division did a "marvelous job."                                              
                                                                               
  In  response  to  a question  from  Co-chairman  Frank, Mrs.                 
  Thickstun said that the $891.0 request was intended to cover                 
  operating expenses to  the end  of June.   It also  included                 
  reimbursement   of   costs   incurred   to   the   Dept.  of                 
  Administration,    division    of    information   services,                 
  contingency  moneys  loaned by  the  Governor, and  a $125.0                 
  legal   contract    for   defense   of    Mrs.   Thickstun's                 
  certification of the recall petitions.                                       
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Frank  noted the  $356.2 for  personal services,                 
  and  $310.0 for  Dept.  of Administration  computer charges.                 
  Mrs.  Thickstun  explained  that  $242.0  was  budgeted  for                 
  computer  time.  As  a result  of reapportionment  and other                 
  election expenses, costs  were higher.  She  further advised                 
  that  reapportionment  was  never  budgeted  for.    It  was                 
  necessary  to   hire   additional  staff   to  input   voter                 
  information.  Extensive overtime was also incurred since two                 
  shifts were  operating.  After  the initial  reapportionment                 
  plan was struck down by the  courts and an interim plan  was                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  effected, "everything had to be redone."                                     
                                                                               
  The division expected that in the worst  case, funding needs                 
  might total $1.6.   OMB said  it could only justify  $961.0,                 
  which  was  more  than our  original  $891.0  request.   Co-                 
  chairman Frank voiced his understanding that the legislature                 
  budgeted $1.6 million for the  primary and general election.                 
  Mrs.  Thickstun  concurred,  advising  that  it  represented                 
  cyclical funding provided the division  in an election year.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp voiced his understanding that the $312.0 would                 
  carry the  division through  April, but  that an  additional                 
  $183.0 would be  needed for  May and June.   Mrs.  Thickstun                 
  concurred.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Frank announced that CSHB  94 (Finance) would be                 
  HELD in committee for further review and again considered at                 
  9:00 a.m. the next day.                                                      
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:40 a.m.                        
                                                                               

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