Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/24/1993 09:05 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.