Legislature(2007 - 2008)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/10/2007 03:00 PM FINANCE


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:05:28 PM Start
03:05:40 PM HB95 || HB96
06:50:41 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
- Recessed to 15 Minutes after Session -
-- Time Change --
+= HB 95 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 96 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Public Testimony Schedule
3:00 - 4:00 pm: Juneau
4:00 - 5:30 pm: Sitka, Wrangell, Homer,
Petersburg, Dillingham & Cordova
5:30 - 7:00 pm: Fairbanks
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                            MINUTES                                                                                           
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                  
                         April 10, 2007                                                                                       
                           3:05 p.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Lyman Hoffman convened the meeting at approximately                                                                    
3:05:28 PM.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lyman Hoffman, Co-Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Joe Thomas                                                                                                              
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Also Attending: Testifiers are listed in the body of the minutes                                                              
in the order they testified.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB  95-APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                     
HB  96-APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The   Committee   heard   testimony  on   the   proposed   budget                                                               
appropriations from residents of  Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Homer,                                                               
Petersburg,  Dillingham, Cordova  and Fairbanks.  The bills  were                                                               
held in Committee.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:05:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 95(FIN)                                                                                              
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and loan                                                               
     program expenses of state  government, for certain programs,                                                               
     and to  capitalize funds;  making appropriations  under art.                                                               
     IX, sec.  17(c), Constitution  of the  State of  Alaska; and                                                               
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 96(FIN)                                                                                              
     "An Act making appropriations for the operating and capital                                                                
     expenses of the state's integrated comprehensive mental                                                                    
     health program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was  the second  hearing  for  these  bills in  the  Senate                                                               
Finance Committee.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  announced  testimony  would be  taken  on  the                                                               
proposed  FY 08  operating and  mental health  appropriations. He                                                               
requested  testimony be  limited  to two  minutes  per person  to                                                               
allow each person an opportunity to be heard.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Testifying in Juneau:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  invited  Senator  Elton,  representing  Senate                                                               
District  B  covering  the  greater  Juneau  area,  to  lead  the                                                               
following portion of the meeting.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:07:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRENDA  TAYLOR, Parent  of two  children enrolled  at the  Juneau                                                               
Community  Charter School  testified in  appreciation of  funding                                                               
provided  for  charter  schools.  She detailed  the  benefits  of                                                               
charter school  programs. She introduced others  present who also                                                               
support funding for charter schools.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:11:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELLI  DINDINGER, Alaska  Travel Adventures,  testified that  she                                                               
was raised in Juneau and  that Alaska Travel Adventures is family                                                               
owned  and operated.  She spoke  of the  benefits of  the tourism                                                               
industry  and  she  indicated others  present  who  also  support                                                               
tourism. The benefits of the  tourism industry are not limited to                                                               
economic   and   philanthropic   contributions,  but   also   the                                                               
opportunity  the industry  provides  to local  youth in  teaching                                                               
work  ethic  and responsibility.  She  expressed,  "Tourism is  a                                                               
valuable resource and we need to invest in it."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:16:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LINDSEY  FORREST, President,  Student  Government, University  of                                                               
Alaska Southeast,  testified that the Board  of Regents submitted                                                               
a proposed  FY 08  budget, which was  significantly reduced.   An                                                               
amendment  has  been  submitted  to  rectify  this  by  providing                                                               
funding  for  maintenance,   retention  of  professor  positions,                                                               
research  programs  and  other important  needs.  She  urged  the                                                               
adoption of the amendment.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:18:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN  SKEEK, Representing  the  University  of Alaska  Southeast                                                               
Student  Government, testified  to request  full funding  for the                                                               
University  of  Alaska.  Record snowfall  affected  all  Alaskans                                                               
during  recent months  and  that snowfall  was  caused by  global                                                               
warming,  which must  be researched  further.  Fully funding  the                                                               
University   would  allow   for  more   educated  residents   and                                                               
subsequently better informed decisions.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:20:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM   ANDREWS,  Student,   Former  Student   Body  President,                                                               
University of  Alaska Southeast, testified that  he was initially                                                               
opposed to  a proposal to  increase tuition. His  opinion changed                                                               
when he  realized the benefits  would include  expanded programs.                                                               
Failure to adequately fund the  University would impact the level                                                               
of  education. He  understood the  limited funding  available for                                                               
multiple  needs,  as  well  as   the  reality  of  declining  oil                                                               
production. He appreciated the  difficult decisions the Committee                                                               
must make about distribution of funding.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:23:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HEATHER SWANSON,  Employee, University  of Alaska  Southeast, and                                                               
President, Staff  Council Alliance,  testified that  her children                                                               
would  attend   the  University  of  Alaska   because  she  knows                                                               
firsthand  the  quality  of the  education  provided.  The  Staff                                                               
Council Alliance  represents over  200 University  employees from                                                               
Southeast  communities.  She  remarked that  the  "University  of                                                               
Alaska  is working  hard to  enhance  peoples' curiosities,"  and                                                               
stressed "we need to trust the  Board of Regents to make the best                                                               
possible decisions for us."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:28:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAM  MUELLER-GUY,  Southeast  Alaska Independent  Living  (SAIL),                                                               
testified that the  organization for six years  has helped people                                                               
succeed in  every aspect of their  lives. She listed many  of the                                                               
services  offered and  the subsequent  positive results.  She was                                                               
uncertain  of  her   current  situation  were  it   not  for  the                                                               
assistance of SAIL.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:32:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Elton   requested  a  copy   of  the   witness'  written                                                               
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:32:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BECKY  HARRINGTON  had  testimony  read  on  her  behalf  by  Ms.                                                               
Mueller-Guy. Ms.  Harrington was a  recipient of the  services of                                                               
SAIL. More  training is necessary to  differentiate which efforts                                                               
are successful and should be expanded.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:35:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  COONEY,  Alaska  Canopy   Adventures,  and  11-year  Juneau                                                               
resident testified  that he  has worked  in the  tourism industry                                                               
for  all of  those 11  years. This  industry has  enabled him  to                                                               
purchase a home and "earn a living".                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:36:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERIC SCHOLTZ,  Temsco Helicopters, and Secretary,  Alaska Tourism                                                               
Industry Association, and resident  of Douglas, testified that he                                                               
worked on  cruise ships prior  to relocating to Alaska.  He spoke                                                               
to  the  funding  requested  for   the  Alaska  Tourism  Industry                                                               
Association (ATIA).  Temsco hires approximately 75  youths during                                                               
the summer  months, providing them  an opportunity to  earn money                                                               
and to gain  work experience. He requested  increased funding for                                                               
the ATIA to expend for marketing efforts.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:39:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GEORGE  REIFENSTEIN,   General  Manager,  Mt.   Roberts  Tramway,                                                               
Goldbelt, Inc., testified in support  of funding for the ATIA. He                                                               
highlighted his  career in the  tourism industry  cumulating with                                                               
the  seasonal  employment  of  his  two  daughters.  The  Tramway                                                               
employs  approximately 75  fulltime seasonal  employees. Although                                                               
the Tramway has a marketing  budget, it is insufficient to extend                                                               
to the emerging marketplace.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:41:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB WYSOUKI,  President and Chief  Executive Officer,  Huna Totem                                                               
Corporation,  testified   that  the   primary  industry   of  the                                                               
Corporation is  the Icy Point destination.  The Corporation hires                                                               
Native Alaskans almost  exclusively. Funding for the  ATIA is not                                                               
about  cruise   ships  but   about  economic   opportunities  for                                                               
Alaskans.  Funding  for  ATIA  is  necessary  to  reach  emerging                                                               
markets.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:43:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EMILY  NENON,  Government   Relations  Liaison,  Alaska  Chapter,                                                               
American  Cancer   Society,  testified   to  the   health  damage                                                               
resulting  from tobacco  use as  well as  concerns regarding  the                                                               
risks of obesity.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:45:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ART PETERSON, Board of Directors,  Retired, Alaska Legal Services                                                               
(ALS) Commission,  and Attorney,  expressed appreciation  for the                                                               
funding for the  ALS recommended by the  budget subcommittee. The                                                               
need  for  legal  advice has  continued  despite  elimination  of                                                               
funding by  former Governor Frank  Murkowski. Mr.  Peterson hoped                                                               
that the proposed funding for FY 08 would be retained.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:47:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  established that no other  testifiers in Juneau                                                               
were present to testify.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 3:47:27 PM / 4:42:56 PM                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Testifying  from Homer,  Dillingham, Sitka,  Wrangell, Petersburg                                                             
or Cordova:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  invited  Co-Chair Stedman,  representative  of                                                               
Senate District A,  to lead the following portion  of the meeting                                                               
in  which   testimony  from   Southeast  communities   and  other                                                               
locations would be heard.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BOB  MOORE, 38-year  resident of  Homer, and  educator, testified                                                               
via  teleconference  from  Homer  about his  involvement  in  the                                                               
University of  Alaska. He requested  funding to cover  the "fixed                                                               
costs" of  the University. This  funding would  promote education                                                               
and every community in the state would benefit.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:45:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROSE HEYANO,  Bristol Bay Area Health  Corporation, testified via                                                               
teleconference from Dillingham about  the nine communities in the                                                               
region that  have community health  centers. These  centers offer                                                               
access  to health  care  to  all regardless  of  ability to  pay.                                                               
Charges are  assessed according to  the patient's ability  to pay                                                               
and  cannery  employees  receive  care with  the  costs  deducted                                                               
directly from  their paychecks. The  centers provide care  to the                                                               
most  remote areas  of the  State. This  is important  given high                                                               
transportation costs. Community Health  Centers need funding from                                                               
the State  as well  as reimbursement  from Medicaid.  She relayed                                                               
the circumstances of  a woman diagnosed with  cervical cancer who                                                               
had been unable to afford  preventative care, such as pap smears,                                                               
that could  have identified her  illness sooner  and subsequently                                                               
incurred lower Medicaid costs.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:49:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERIC  HOLLAND,  Deputy  Director, Behavioral  Health  Department,                                                               
Bristol    Bay   Area    Health   Corporation,    testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Dillingham in support for  funding of Alaska                                                               
Legal Services  (ALS). In his  experience working with  the local                                                               
ALS office, he learned of  the funding needs of the organization.                                                               
Many clients  of behavioral health  services also are in  need of                                                               
legal advice.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:52:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VALERIE  MCCANDLESS,  Mayor,  City  of  Wrangell,  testified  via                                                               
teleconference from Wrangell  to the needs of  all communities in                                                               
the state. These  needs include funding for  education and public                                                               
broadcasting.  Additionally  municipal  revenue sharing  is  also                                                               
important.  She  commented  that  the  resources  of  Alaska  are                                                               
intended for all Alaskans.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:55:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANGIE  NEWBY, Real  Estate Broker,  testified via  teleconference                                                               
from Homer to the importance of  tourism to the local real estate                                                               
market. Many  home buyers  first came to  the State  as visitors;                                                               
some via  cruise ships,  but most  as independent  travelers. She                                                               
expressed  shame that  other  states invest  50  percent more  in                                                               
tourism than the state of Alaska does.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:57:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CONNIE SIPE,  Center for Community, testified  via teleconference                                                               
from  Sitka  that  the  organization  has  been  serving  elderly                                                               
residents  of Sitka  and outlying  communities. Governor  Palin's                                                               
proposed  budget  indicates  a   $16.5  million  savings  in  the                                                               
personal   care  attendant   program  as   a  result   of  better                                                               
administration of  the program. However,  the rates had  not been                                                               
increased since 1988 with the  hourly rate remaining at $21. This                                                               
is compared to the 30  percent salary increases awarded to health                                                               
care workers in other programs administered by the State.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:01:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CINDY EDWARDS, Sitka Resident,  testified via teleconference from                                                               
Sitka  to encourage  funding for  public broadcasting.  She along                                                               
with  many in  her community  relies on  public broadcasting  for                                                               
news and other services.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:02:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARCO   DAPCEVICH,   Mayor,   City  of   Sitka,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from Sitka, to encourage  retention of funding for                                                               
municipal   revenue  sharing   as  proposed   in  the   committee                                                               
substitute.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:03:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  informed that the Committee  was addressing the                                                               
unfunded  liability of  the  Public  Employees Retirement  System                                                               
(PERS) and the  Teachers Retirement System (TRS),  in addition to                                                               
municipal revenue sharing.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:04:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVE NIVINS, Sitka Convention and  Visitors Bureau, testified via                                                               
teleconference from  Sitka on behalf  of the over 200  members of                                                               
the organization.  The Bureau benefits from  the funding provided                                                               
to the AITA. Tourism is a major industry in Sitka.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
5:05:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM JOYCE,  Mayor, City of Cordova,  testified via teleconference                                                               
from an  offnet site in  Cordova in support of  municipal revenue                                                               
sharing for  Cordova and other  communities. The City  had relied                                                               
on this  funding for  maintenance and  other services  until that                                                               
funding  was eliminated.  Subsequently,  the City  was unable  to                                                               
afford basic maintenance  and as a result many  facilities are in                                                               
poor condition.  The resources  of Alaska  should be  shared with                                                               
all. He commented to an  earlier statement that State funding for                                                               
employers'  PERS/TRS debt  is tantamount  to revenue  sharing. He                                                               
disagreed.  He also  encouraged full  funding for  increased fuel                                                               
costs and for the Alaska  Marine Highway System. Communities that                                                               
are not located along the road system rely on the ferry system.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:08:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER HOEPFNER,  Member, Cordova  School District,  testified via                                                               
teleconference  from  an offnet  location  in  Cordova about  the                                                               
dedication of  parents and the  community to education.  He cited                                                               
the proficiency  levels of  students and  attributed this  to the                                                               
quality of education provided.  However, declining enrollment has                                                               
reduced  funding and  resulted in  elimination of  teaching staff                                                               
and subsequently  increased class  size. An elementary  school in                                                               
the district needs funding to upgrade its outdated playground.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:11:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TINA  DAY,   Executive  Director,  Homer  Chamber   of  Commerce,                                                               
testified  via teleconference  from Homer  in support  of funding                                                               
for  the  ATIA.  Last  year   Homer  had  150,000  visitors,  and                                                               
continuing increases are anticipated.  Many tourism businesses in                                                               
Homer  are  independently   owned  and  rely  on   the  ATIA  for                                                               
promotion. She  also spoke in  favor of funding for  the Kachemak                                                               
Bay Campus of  the University of Alaska.  Additionally $1 million                                                               
capital  funding  is  needed for  the  South  Peninsula  Hospital                                                               
expansion. This  hospital contributes $25.3 million  to the local                                                               
economy.  An increase  in  the senior  citizen  population of  38                                                               
percent is anticipated in the next ten years.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:14:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TED   SMITH,   Mayor,   City   of   Petersburg,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference from  Petersburg, in support of  municipal revenue                                                               
sharing. Communities  have assumed more  financial responsibility                                                               
from  the  State  in  senior  tax  exemptions,  road  and  harbor                                                               
maintenance,  and other  services.  Petersburg  levies sales  and                                                               
property  taxes.  State funding  for  employers'  portion of  the                                                               
PERS/TRS  unfunded liability  is not  equal to  municipal revenue                                                               
sharing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 5:16:56 PM / 5:17:55 PM                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Testifying from Fairbanks (unless otherwise noted):                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  invited  Senator Thomas,  representing  Senate                                                               
District  D,  to  lead  this  portion of  the  meeting  in  which                                                               
testimony was received from Fairbanks area residents.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:18:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KADEENE T LAMB testified that  she had suffered a traumatic brain                                                               
injury. Access  Alaska has assisted  her in  securing employment.                                                               
She   requested  a   funding   increase  of   $100,000  for   the                                                               
organization.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:19:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GEORGE  JOHNSTON HISAMOTO  testified  about  the traumatic  brain                                                               
injury he received  as a result of a driver  running a red light.                                                               
Access  Alaska   has  assisted   him  in   being  able   to  live                                                               
independently. He exclaimed, "Thank God for Access Alaska."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:21:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD  WEBB  testified that  he  became  legally blind  several                                                               
years  ago.   He  requested  a  $100,000   funding  increase  for                                                               
independent living  centers, and amount similar  to that provided                                                               
for FY  07. When  people become  disabled they  need a  "place to                                                               
turn".  Many  feel  worthless  although this  is  not  the  case.                                                               
Organizations  such  as  the  Alaska Center  for  the  Blind  and                                                               
Visually Impaired are  important. The State would  incur costs if                                                               
not through these programs, than  from the monetary costs of drug                                                               
abuse, unemployment and depression.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:23:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LORETTA TONOIAN,  Advocacy Board,  Access Alaska,  testified that                                                               
her pig farm had been destroyed  by fire. After recovering from a                                                               
knee injury received in this  incident she decided to rebuild her                                                               
farm.  She  got  a  job  but re-injured  her  knee.  Without  the                                                               
services of Access Alaska she  would have been unable to continue                                                               
living independently. She likely would  have frozen to death were                                                               
funding to offset heating expenses not provided to her.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
5:25:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICTOR MARTIN  testified through an  interpreter that he  is deaf                                                               
and  that  interpreters  are  important to  himself  and  to  the                                                               
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT MOSS stressed her personal  interest in funding shortfalls to                                                               
the   Department  of   Labor  and   Workforce  Development.   The                                                               
facilities of Eielson Air Force  Base are being utilized, and the                                                               
economy  of  Interior  Alaska  is  continuing  to  grow.  Trained                                                               
workers are needed.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:28:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROB  PERDUE, Golden  Heart Projects,  testified in  support of  a                                                               
funding  request  from  the  Department   of  Health  and  Social                                                               
Services  for the  detoxification facility.  In the  past several                                                               
years,  the  Project   has  improved  the  lives   of  many  area                                                               
residents.  No longer  is  Fairbanks  a place  to  come to  drink                                                               
excessively and  these improvements must be  maintained. Jail and                                                               
hospitalization is  not a  long term  solution to  alcohol abuse.                                                               
The tourism industry benefits from this program.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:31:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REGINA  HORNE  supported  rural   communities  and  testified  in                                                               
opposition  to the  closing  of four  rural  job centers.  Mobile                                                               
centers  are   inadequate.  Rural  residents  deserve   the  same                                                               
services as urban residents.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:33:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT  REISLAND,   fourth  generation   Alaskan,  owner   of  two                                                               
recreational  vehicle  parks  and  President,  Alaska  Campground                                                               
Owners  Association,  testified  in   Juneau,  to  the  need  for                                                               
increased funding for ATIA. Campground  use has declined over the                                                               
past  several years  and  many locally  owned  operations are  in                                                               
need. Tourism might be considered  a non-vital State service, but                                                               
the  industry provides  economic  benefits to  the entire  state.                                                               
Independent  and smaller  businesses  are necessary,  independent                                                               
travelers tend to stay longer and spend more money in the state.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:38:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  reiterated  his   request  that  testimony  be                                                               
limited to two minutes.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
5:38:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DONDI JON COOK,  Access Alaska, testified that  he suffered brain                                                               
damage  from an  aneurism. Previously  simple functions,  such as                                                               
buying a bus token, have  become difficult. An agency like Access                                                               
Alaska  provides vital  assistance  in improving  the quality  of                                                               
life, as well as the quality of society as a whole.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:40:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEB  HICKOK  President  and Chief  Executive  Officer,  Fairbanks                                                               
Convention and  Visitors Borough, and Marketing  Director, Alaska                                                               
Tourism  Industry Association,  testified  in  Juneau to  request                                                               
funding for  the independent marketing  efforts of the  ATIA. The                                                               
Fairbanks Convention  and Visitors  Bureau serves  as a  model in                                                               
promoting independent travel to Alaska.  One half of the visitors                                                               
to  Fairbanks  are independent  travelers.  The  Bureau not  only                                                               
books these visitors  for local lodging and  activities, but also                                                               
arranges for  visitors to travel to  more northerly destinations.                                                               
Additionally, the Bureau promotes winter travel to Alaska.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:42:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JACK  WILBUR,  KUAC,  local public  radio  station  testified  in                                                               
support of  the proposed funding for  public broadcasting. Public                                                               
broadcasting is important to residents  of Interior Alaska, as it                                                               
provides the only  source of news and information  to some remote                                                               
locations.  He  listed  other  programming  available,  including                                                               
programs targeted  to children. Public broadcasting  has wide bi-                                                               
partisan support locally and nationally.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:45:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIM    BURTON,   Governor's    Committee   on    Employment   and                                                               
Rehabilitation of  People with Disabilities, testified  in Juneau                                                               
in support of  funding for the Department of  Labor and Workforce                                                               
Development.  He  has  benefited from  Department  programs  over                                                               
several years. He  has medical conditions that  affect his vision                                                               
and hearing. He  has benefited from programs  administered by the                                                               
Division of  Vocational Rehabilitation,  the National  Center for                                                               
the Blind  and other organizations.  With the loss of  his sight,                                                               
he  was  forced to  retire  from  his  profession as  a  Computer                                                               
Assisted  Design  (CAD) programmer  and  operator.  He became  an                                                               
instructor of computer operations at  the Tanana Valley Campus of                                                               
the University of  Alaska. As his hearing  deteriorated, he began                                                               
to  have  difficulty  in communicating  with  his  students.  The                                                               
Division  provided him  with equipment  to  assist with  hearing,                                                               
thus  allowing  him   to  continue  working.  He   spoke  to  the                                                               
importance of independent living.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:51:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  VASTOLA,  Pediatrician,  and Medical  Director,  Community                                                               
Health  Services,  Southeast  Alaska Regional  Health  Consortium                                                               
(SEARHC),  testified  via  teleconference   from  Sitka,  to  the                                                               
importance  of  funding  for   community  health  centers.  These                                                               
clinics  serve the  medically underserved:  the underinsured  and                                                               
the uninsured.  He told of  the assumption of operations  in 1998                                                               
of the Lynn  Canal Medical Center, located in  Haines. The clinic                                                               
has  expanded under  the guidance  of  SEARHC enabling  increased                                                               
access  to   health  care  services  for   more  area  residents.                                                               
Community health  centers are recognized as  highly efficient and                                                               
as providing  significant cost savings  to the State  and federal                                                               
Medicaid  program.  He  recommended  the  proposed  $2.3  million                                                               
appropriation for community health centers.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:56:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TABOR REHBAUM,  Arctic Alliance for People,  testified to request                                                               
funding for  the Human Services Community  Matching Grant Program                                                               
at the level of the previous  year. Alaska Legal Services and Big                                                               
Brothers/Big Sisters  in Fairbanks  have both been  recipients of                                                               
this grant program, benefiting many residents.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:58:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WALTER SHERMAN testified to the  services he has received through                                                               
Access Alaska, including  bus passes and a cellular  phone to use                                                               
in the event of emergency. He encouraged continued funding.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:59:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LEE KENASTON,  35-year Fairbanks  resident, testified  in support                                                               
in an increase  in tourism funding. He works for  a small tourism                                                               
business.  Employment  in  tourism   has  paid  for  his  college                                                               
education and now supports his family.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
6:00:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS BRIGGS-NASH,  17-years old,  testified that  Access Alaska                                                               
has assisted  him with job  training. He had difficulty  with his                                                               
handwriting  and the  organization  has helped  him improve  this                                                               
resulting in better school performance.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:01:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TRESHA NASH  testified that  her family  was a  "military family"                                                               
that  chose  to remain  in  Alaska  after discharge.  Her  family                                                               
includes six  special needs children. The  eldest, Thomas Briggs-                                                               
Nash, has  received services from  Access Alaska and  her younger                                                               
children would in the future.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
6:02:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DANIEL HOFFMAN,  Chief, Fairbanks Police Department,  and Member,                                                               
Golden  Heart  Project, testified  that  the  community has  been                                                               
forced  to  pay  an  unfair  portion  of  the  costs  related  to                                                               
alcoholism. He  explained the process  in which Alaskans  in need                                                               
of   detoxification  care   are  directed   to  facilities   with                                                               
vacancies. Facilities located in  Anchorage are often at capacity                                                               
and subsequently  many patients  from other communities  are sent                                                               
to Fairbanks.  He therefore requested  increased funding  for the                                                               
Golden Heart Project "enhanced detox" facility.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
6:03:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARJORIE  GRUNIN,  Member, Board  of  Directors,  Hospice of  the                                                               
Tanana  Valley,   testified  in   support  of  funding   for  the                                                               
organization  which  provides  services  for  those  living  both                                                               
within and outside of the Fairbanks metropolitan area.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
6:05:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
David Jacobson,  Staff, Access Alaska,  told of a brain  tumor 25                                                               
years ago  that prevented him  from continuing employment  in the                                                               
construction industry.  Through the assistance of  Access Alaska,                                                               
he was  able to attend  classes at  the University of  Alaska and                                                               
receive  training  in   other  fields.  He  also   spoke  to  the                                                               
importance of  the Personal Care  Attendant program.  This allows                                                               
people to continue to live in their  homes and be a part of their                                                               
community. The  rates paid to  personal care attendants  have not                                                               
increased  for  many  years. Interpreter  referral  services  are                                                               
essential for the integration of the deaf into the community.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
6:09:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDY HARRINGTON,  Alaska Legal  Services, thanked  the Department                                                               
of  Health  and  Social  Services  budget  subcommittee  for  the                                                               
recommendation for  funding Alaska  Legal Services (ALS).  ALS is                                                               
one program that  had previously received State  funding that had                                                               
been recently eliminated.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:11:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DANIEL DARNELL testified in support  of keeping the Fairbanks job                                                               
training office open.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
6:12:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EUGENE EWIN  testified through  an interpreter  that interpreters                                                               
are necessary to assist deaf Alaska Natives in jail.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
6:15:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAGGIE MATOS  testified through an interpreter  to the importance                                                               
of  interpreters  for  the  deaf.  More  funding  is  needed  for                                                               
interpreters in Alaska.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:15:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EMMA  MORGAN testified  through an  interpreter to  her need  for                                                               
more  interpreters  for the  deaf.  They  are needed  for  doctor                                                               
visits and other interactions.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
6:16:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RANDY BOWELL  told of his  disability received  as a result  of a                                                               
car accident.  He has  worked to  improve services  for disabled,                                                               
such as  improved public transportation  with sheltered  areas at                                                               
bus  stops. Programs  like Access  Alaska  have received  reduced                                                               
funding in  recent years. He  pledged to continue his  efforts to                                                               
address the needs of those suffering traumatic brain injuries.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
6:18:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CORRINE  BOWELL testified  as  the mother  of  a traumatic  brain                                                               
injury survivor.  Upon discharge from Providence  Medical Center,                                                               
she was advised to contact  Access Alaska for future services for                                                               
her child.  Self esteem for  a person with  disabilities incurred                                                               
from an  accident must  be regained.  Access Alaska,  by offering                                                               
services and not passing judgment,  assists significantly in this                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:21:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATT ATKINSON,  Air Arctic, testified  in support of  funding for                                                               
the ATIA. Air operators rely  on independent travelers and depend                                                               
on marketing dollars to draw travelers to the State.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
6:23:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GAYLE  MALLOY  BINKLEY,  Hospice   of  Tanana  Valley,  supported                                                               
funding  for   hospice  services.  She  described   the  services                                                               
provided by Hospice  including assisting mothers who  are ill and                                                               
have small children.  Hospice of Tanana serves  residents of many                                                               
surrounding communities.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:25:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHY  HODGES,  Northern  Alaska  Tour  Company,  testified  that                                                               
funding  for  tourism should  be  provided,  as  it is  a  proven                                                               
investment with positive returns.  Her employment in the industry                                                               
has allowed her to pay for college and it employs many others.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
6:27:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA   BAILEY,  Trans   Arctic  Circle   Trek,  and   Student,                                                               
University  of  Alaska,  testified  requesting  tourism  funding.                                                               
Reinvesting  some  of  the  money generated  by  the  State  into                                                               
tourism would be beneficial to the industry.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
6:29:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNA   FERRI,  Arctic   Outfitters,  testified   in  support   of                                                               
"Destination Alaska" tourism funding.  This industry drew her and                                                               
many others back to the State.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
6:30:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KORY EBERHARDT, Student, testified that  his family has owned and                                                               
operated  A Taste  of Alaska  Lodge for  15 years,  which depends                                                               
heavily on visitors to Alaska.  He requested increased funding to                                                               
support  the visitor  industry utilizing  tax revenues  generated                                                               
from the industry. More than  $20 million is necessary to counter                                                               
the decline in the number of independent travelers.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
6:31:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERICKA WELD, Arctic  Circle Trading Post, testified  that she was                                                               
born and  raised in Fairbanks.  She asked the Committee  to fully                                                               
fund the  destination marketing efforts  of the ATIA, as  her job                                                               
depended on it.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
6:31:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHY    THROSTAD,    representing   herself,    testified    via                                                               
teleconference  from Fairbanks  and shared  the joy  she receives                                                               
from her employment with the  job training center and the service                                                               
it provides. It is vital to keep State jobs in Fairbanks.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:34:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELYSE  GUTTENBERG,  Fairbanks  Native Association,  testified  in                                                               
support  of  $500,000 in  funding  for  the Fairbanks  Behavioral                                                               
Health  enhanced  detoxification  facility.  The  Association  is                                                               
significantly  involved in  the Golden  Heart Project  coalition,                                                               
which has "worked for years  to bring" detoxification services to                                                               
Interior Alaska. The coalition has  secured the necessary capital                                                               
funding  for the  facility, but  could  not afford  to staff  the                                                               
increased  beds or  to  service the  combined  mental health  and                                                               
detoxification   needs  without   State  funding.   The  existing                                                               
detoxification unit has  ten beds. However, the  services the new                                                               
facility would  provide would  serve not  only the  Interior, but                                                               
also much of the northern region of the state.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
6:37:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TAMMIE  WILSON,  resident of  North  Pole,  testified that  as  a                                                               
taxpayer she  encouraged the Legislature to  address the unfunded                                                               
liability  of  PERS  and  TRS.   She  also  favored  funding  the                                                               
municipal  revenue  sharing  program   rather  than  funding  for                                                               
capital projects.  The Alaska Longevity  Bonus program  should be                                                               
reinstated.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
6:39:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DON  THIBEDEAU,  Hospice of  the  Tanana  Valley, encouraged  the                                                               
continued funding  of the community  matching grant  program. His                                                               
family, which  has been a  part of the Fairbanks  community since                                                               
1922,  has been  impacted by  a number  of agencies  that receive                                                               
these grants. He  had provided care for his  grandmother and then                                                               
his  mother  in  their  final years.  Resources  are  not  always                                                               
available to provide support to loved ones as they age.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:42:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHERYL  KILGORE, Executive  Director, Interior  Community Health,                                                               
encouraged funding for community  health centers, as the services                                                               
they  provide  are  vital.  She  also  requested  increasing  the                                                               
eligibility requirements  of the  Denali Kid  Care program  up to                                                               
200 percent of the federal poverty level.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:44:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELLY BROWN, Alaska State Employees  Association AFSCME Local 52,                                                               
spoke on  behalf of  State employees  as well  as the  over 5,000                                                               
Alaska  workers and  business owners  who had  signed a  petition                                                               
regarding proposed funding reductions  to Department of Labor and                                                               
Workforce Development offices. These  offices provide a myriad of                                                               
services  to the  community to  both workers  and employers.  She                                                               
detailed these services.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:46:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEV  DUBE, 20-year  Employee, Department  of Labor  and Workforce                                                               
Development  testified   to  the   proposal  to  phase   out  the                                                               
Unemployment Insurance  office located  in Fairbanks,  laying off                                                               
three staff  on June 30,  2007 and closing the  office completely                                                               
on June  30, 2008. The  workload would be  shifted to one  of the                                                               
two  remaining offices  in Anchorage  and  Juneau and  additional                                                               
positions would be  needed at those locations.  Travel from those                                                               
offices would be  necessary to provide the  rapid response layoff                                                               
meetings required by federal regulations.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JAMES EASTERLING, Northern Alaska  Tour Company, spoke in support                                                               
of funding for tourism.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:49:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman reviewed the week's public testimony schedule.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Lyman Hoffman adjourned the meeting at 6:50:41 PM                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects