Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/10/1993 02:20 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
     SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                    
                         March 10, 1993                                        
                            2:20 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                               
  Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                            
  Senator Loren Leman                                                          
  Senator Mike Miller                                                          
  Senator Jim Duncan                                                           
  Senator Johnny Ellis                                                         
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Judy Salo                                                            
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 101                                                          
  "An Act relating to eligibility  for and payments of  public                 
  assistance; and providing for an effective date."                            
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
  SB 101 - No previous action to record.                                       
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  Jan Hansen, Director                                                         
  Division of Public Assistance                                                
  Department of Health and Social Services                                     
  P.O. Box 110640                                                              
  Juneau, Alaska 99811-0640                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave sponsor statement for SB 101.                      
                                                                               
  John Shafer                                                                  
  303 Kimsham Street                                                           
  Sitka, Alaska 99835                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Nova Blazej                                                                  
  Box 3047                                                                     
  Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Clara Kelly                                                                  
  Box 219                                                                      
  Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Patrick Cunningham                                                           
  4770 Mills Drive                                                             
  Anchorage, Alaska 99508                                                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Marianne Kerr                                                                
  Abused Women's Aid In Crises                                                 
  100 West 13th                                                                
  Anchorage, Alaska 99501                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Karen Perdue                                                                 
  704 Front Street                                                             
  Fairbanks, Alaska 99701                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Robin Wickham                                                                
  3550 Airport Way, Suite 3                                                    
  Fairbanks, Alaska 99709                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Constance Griffith                                                           
  2509 4th Avenue                                                              
  Ketchikan, Alaska 99901                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Ann Pence                                                                    
  Box 43                                                                       
  Kasilof, Alaska 99610                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Jayne Andreen, Executive Director                                            
  South Peninsula Women's Services                                             
  Box 2328                                                                     
  Homer, Alaska 99603                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Ella Carey-Starr                                                             
  Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation                                 
  Box 888                                                                      
  Haines, Alaska 99827                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Cheryl Phillips                                                              
  Box 933                                                                      
  Haines, Alaska 99827                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Connie Sipe, Executive Director                                              
  Older Alaskans Commission                                                    
  P.O. Box 10209                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Ellen Northup, Director                                                      
  The Glory Hole                                                               
  Box 21997                                                                    
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Geordie Carroll                                                              
  805 Airport Way                                                              
  Fairbanks, Alaska 99701                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Linda Linson                                                                 
  Advocacy Services of Alaska                                                  
  250 Cushman Street                                                           
  Fairbanks, Alaska 99701                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Joy Davis                                                                    
  Access Alaska                                                                
  3710 Woodland Drive, Suite 900                                               
  Anchorage, Alaska 99517                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Christine Phillips                                                           
  P.O. Box 20212                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Hugh Doogan                                                                  
  359 Slater Street                                                            
  Fairbanks, Alaska 99701                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Evelyn Navarro                                                               
  P.O. Box 21825                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Vicky Borrego, Legislative Liaison                                           
  Catholic Community Service                                                   
  419 6th Street                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Charles Wheaton                                                              
  135 Foster Avenue                                                            
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Darryl Guthrie                                                               
  Human Services Department                                                    
  Tlingit and Haida Central Council                                            
  401 8th Street, Suite 207                                                    
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Sherry Goll                                                                  
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Alaska Women's Lobby, KIDPAC                                                 
  P.O. Box 22156                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99802                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  Cindy Smith, Executive Director                                              
  Alaska Network on Domestic Violence                                          
  419 6th Street, #116                                                         
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against SB 101.                               
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 93-22, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN  RIEGER called  the  Senate  Health, Education  and                 
  Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 2:20 p.m.                       
  Senate Bill 101, introduced by the Senate Rules Committee by                 
  request of the governor,  was the only order of  business to                 
  come before the committee.                                                   
                                                                               
  JAN  HANSEN,   Director,  Division  of   Public  Assistance,                 
  Department  of  Health  and  Social  Services, said  SB  101                 
  relates to  eligibility and payments for  public assistance.                 
  The bill is part of the department's and the state's overall                 
  package of doing  some restructuring and reform  of welfare.                 
  The  department is  faced  with  the  continuing  escalating                 
  welfare caseloads  and  limited numbers  of state  revenues.                 
  She referred to information the committee had, "FY 94 Budget                 
  Overview," and  said it contains  the background information                 
  which provides  the context for the  bill.  Pages 31  and 32                 
  discusses the Division of Public Assistance's welfare reform                 
  measures.  Ms.  Hansen said  the benefit payment  reductions                 
  contained in the  bill is one  section of the overall  plan.                 
  She noted that  there is  also a study  on self  sufficiency                 
  measures.  She referred to the Jobs Program and said it is a                 
  mechanism by  which  people are  trained  so that  they  can                 
  secure  a job that  will pay  a living  wage for  the entire                 
  family.  Ms. Hansen  said another major aspect of  the total                 
  proposal  by  the department  has  to  do with  pushing  the                 
  federal government to  make some changes  in their laws  and                 
  policies which will enable us to structure welfare.  Another                 
  area  is the push  to increase child  support collections as                 
  that is  a way income  can be increased to  families who are                 
  currently depending on the state.                                            
                                                                               
  Ms. Hansen said  SB 101 will  reduce the amount of  payments                 
  that  are  made  to  people  on  the Aid  to  Families  With                 
  Dependent   Children  (AFDC)   Program   and  Adult   Public                 
  Assistance  (APA)  Program.   She  referred  to  the limited                 
  budget and said the department wants to continue  to provide                 
  payments  and  services to  the full  range  of people.   By                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  reducing a small amount of the  benefits to each person, the                 
  increased need will continue to be served.                                   
                                                                               
  Ms. Hansen  referred to the AFDC Program and said there is a                 
  suspension  of   the  cost   of  living   allowance  (COLA).                 
  Currently in the statute, on January  1st of every year, the                 
  benefit amounts for AFDC recipients are  raised by an amount                 
  equal  to the  federal  cost of  living  allowance which  is                 
  granted in the  Social Security Program.   This year it  was                 
  3.1 percent and  it is estimated to  be the same  next year.                 
  SB 101 suspends the COLA that would be granted on January 1,                 
  1994.                                                                        
                                                                               
  The second major aspect of the bill is to impose a  rateable                 
  reduction of the  AFDC Program.   Ms. Hansen noted that  the                 
  rateable reduction is a federal term for when you are paying                 
  a household  less than the  amount that has  been determined                 
  that they need.  The  AFDC Program is a federal program  and                 
  must be  operated within  federal guidelines.   The  federal                 
  government provides that every state  will set a standard of                 
  need.  So the state determines  how much a poor family,  who                 
  qualifies for  benefits, needs.  The state  then decides the                 
  level at which  they will  pay those families.   Ms.  Hansen                 
  said Alaska has perhaps always paid  100 percent of the need                 
  standard.    Most  states  pay  a percentage  of  the  needs                 
  standard.  The reduction in the  bill would return the level                 
  of AFDC payments to  the level that was  in effect in  1991.                 
  The  current  AFDC payment  for a  family  of three  pays 77                 
  percent of the  poverty guideline for Alaska.   The proposal                 
  would reduce the amount that a  three person family was paid                 
  to 70 percent  of poverty in  Alaska.  That reduction  would                 
  still place Alaska either as the  top paid state or possibly                 
  the second.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Ms.  Hansen  said  in  October,   1990,  Alaska  adopted  an                 
  unemployed parent component  of the AFDC Program  by federal                 
  requirement.  When the state did  that, the standard that we                 
  paid a unemployed  parent family, which has  two adults, was                 
  different than the  standard that we  were paying to a  AFDC                 
  basic household with one adult.  A slightly larger increment                 
  was given for the second adult than they would have received                 
  if that second person  was a child.  Ms.  Hansen referred to                 
  SB 101 and  said the payment standard which would be paid to                 
  a three person household (mother and  two kids) would be the                 
  same  as  what would  be paid  to  a three  person household                 
  consisting of mother, father,  and one kid.  She  said there                 
  is about a $90  difference between what  is being paid to  a                 
  one parent family and  the two parent household of  the same                 
  size.  The rateable  reduction for a three person  family is                 
  $60 dollars.  So a three person household would get just the                 
  rateable reduction and  would have a $60  dollar actual cash                 
  difference from June,  1993, to July.   A two parent  family                 
  would have a reduction of approximately $150 dollars because                 
  there would be both the rateable reduction and the change to                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  create the equity for the two different household within the                 
  AFDC Program.   Ms. Hansen said  there would be about  $12.6                 
  million savings  to the  AFDC Program  by restructuring  the                 
  payments.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 186                                                                   
                                                                               
  Ms. Hansen  referred to  the Adult  Public Assistance  (APA)                 
  Program and said the bill proposes  a suspension of the COLA                 
  and there  is a  rateable reduction.   In  the Adult  Public                 
  Assistance Program, the bill would roll the payments back to                 
  the 1990 level.   The program  currently pays families at  a                 
  higher  percentage of  poverty  than  is  paid in  the  AFDC                 
  Program.  Currently, a single adult on the APA Program would                 
  receive  111  percent  of  poverty   guideline.    With  the                 
  reduction it would roll  back to 104 percent of  the poverty                 
  guideline.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Another  change  relating   to  the   APA  Program  is   the                 
  elimination  of some  retroactive coverage for  adult public                 
  assistance.  When  a disabled  person makes application  for                 
  federal supplemental security income  (SSI), the state  pays                 
  an interim  assistance  benefit while  that  application  is                 
  being processed  by the federal  government.  She  noted the                 
  applications can take anywhere from four months to a year to                 
  process.  After  they have qualified, the  state supplements                 
  the payment until  they begin  to receive it  under the  SSI                 
  Program.  For a single individual  the payment would be $808                 
  dollars.  Ms. Hansen said the  proposal in SB 101 is when  a                 
  person applies, and before the federal government determines                 
  them eligible,  the state  pays them  an interim  assistance                 
  benefit.  When  the federal  government finds them  eligible                 
  and pays them a lump sum for all of those months while their                 
  application was pending,  the state would collect  from that                 
  lump sum  what was paid  out by  the state  for the  interim                 
  assistance amount.  The remainder of  that lump sum would go                 
  to the client  and their  eligibility for public  assistance                 
  would continue from that  date forward.  She  noted it is  a                 
  common  agreement  which other  states  have executed.   Ms.                 
  Hansen said the savings would account for approximately $5.1                 
  million.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Ms. Hansen referred  to section 2 of the bill and said there                 
  is  a typo where it references  "AS 47.24.320(d)," it should                 
  actually be "AS 47.25.320(d)."                                               
                                                                               
  Number 260                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR DUNCAN asked  what the total general  fund reduction                 
  would be.  Ms. Hansen said the reduction in the AFDC Program                 
  is  $12.6  million of  which half  is  federal and  half are                 
  general funds.  She referred to the APA Program and said the                 
  reduction is  $5.1 million all  of which  is general  funds.                 
  Senator  Duncan asked if the general fund reduction is about                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  $11 million.  Ms. Hansen agreed.                                             
                                                                               
  Senator Duncan asked how many clients will be affected.  Ms.                 
  Hansen  said the  entire caseload of  AFDC clients  would be                 
  effected.   In  FY 94  the caseload  is projected  to  be at                 
  13,858.   Currently, FY  93 averages  at 11,482.   The  COLA                 
  reduction would apply to the entire case load.  The rateable                 
  reduction would apply to the entire caseload.   The rateable                 
  reduction alone, applies to the 11,482 AFDC basic households                 
  - one parent  AFDC families.  The  larger cut from  both the                 
  rateable reduction and  to creating the equity  between AFDC                 
  basic and AFDC  unemployed would  apply to 2,376  unemployed                 
  parent households.                                                           
                                                                               
  Ms.  Hansen  noted there  is  a  small change  to  the needs                 
  standard for cases in  which there are "adult  not included"                 
  cases.  That  is where the child is living  with a non-needy                 
  relative.  The  amount for  one child is  increased and  the                 
  amount  is  decreased for  two  children in  a  cost neutral                 
  change.    It brings  the  state  into compliance  with  the                 
  federal government.  The projected case load  for next year,                 
  for adult public assistance, is 9,664.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 312                                                                   
                                                                               
  JOHN SHAFER, testifying from Sitka, was  against SB 101.  He                 
  said he is  concerned but  not for himself  as he has  never                 
  received public assistance.  He said he is concerned about a                 
  society that would  not adequately fund people  who could be                 
  characterized as some of the  most vulnerable people in  the                 
  society.    He  urged  that   the  committee  influence  the                 
  administration to  restore the  funds and  to maintain  some                 
  support for people who need help.                                            
                                                                               
  NOVA BLAZEJ, of Bethel, testified against  SB 101.  She said                 
  in the rural communities it is  difficult for people to find                 
  jobs.    She said  she  feels  that energy  could  be better                 
  directed by not cutting  funding, but by putting more  of an                 
  emphasis on locating and generating  jobs.  She thanked  the                 
  committee for listening to her.                                              
                                                                               
  CLARA KELLY, also testifying from  Bethel, said being out in                 
  the villages is  like traveling to  the third world.   There                 
  aren't any  jobs whatsoever.   There  are a  few for  school                 
  teachers,  the store keeper,  or city employees.   There are                 
  absolutely no jobs for young people.  She said  it is sinful                 
  to think about  cutting AFDC  or any similar  funding.   Ms.                 
  Kelly urged everyone to make positive plans.                                 
                                                                               
  PATRICK CUNNINGHAM was next  to testify from Anchorage.   He                 
  said  he  is  representing  approximately  400  professional                 
  social workers who are members of  the Alaska Chapter of the                 
  National  Association of  Social  Workers.   Mr.  Cunningham                 
  spoke against SB 101.  The  bill proposes to save the  state                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  money, however the  effort is ill  conceived on the part  of                 
  the Hickel administration.  It will  result in more costs to                 
  the state.  The  Division of Public Assistance is  the anti-                 
  poverty agent in  charge of responding  to the needs of  the                 
  poor.  Yet  their major  proposal is to  move poor  citizens                 
  deeper into  poverty.  Poverty is  violence and SB 101  is a                 
  deliberate attempt to  inflict more  violence upon  Alaska's                 
  poor.  Mr. Cunningham said the claim that the bill will save                 
  money is inaccurate.   At the present time, only  930 of the                 
  over 13,000  families on  the AFDC  case load are  receiving                 
  services from this program.   He suggested that the Division                 
  of Public Assistance follow the lead of many states that are                 
  applying  for waivers from federal requirements to establish                 
  welfare self-sufficiency programs.   It  would maximize  the                 
  opportunity to  substantially reduce  case loads.   Reducing                 
  case loads is  where the  savings will be,  not in  lowering                 
  benefits.   Mr. Cunningham urged  the committee not  only to                 
  reject  SB  101,  but to  create  legislation  targeting the                 
  elimination of poverty in the State of Alaska.                               
                                                                               
  Number 414                                                                   
                                                                               
  MARIANNE KERR,  testified from Anchorage.   She said  she is                 
  representing Abused Women's Aid In Crises (AWAIC) which is a                 
  battered women's shelter in Anchorage.   Ms. Kerr urged that                 
  the committee defeat SB 101  as it is an attempt  to balance                 
  the budget on the  backs of those who  can least afford  it,                 
  low income  women and  children.   She explained that  AWAIC                 
  shelters are  for women  who have  taken their  children and                 
  come to them because of a lethal home situation.  Many women                 
  return to their same dangerous home because of the  economic                 
  reality  in  Anchorage.    Transportation  is  difficult and                 
  expensive, there is a serious  lack of affordable child care                 
  and a lack  of low cost and  affordable state housing.   She                 
  said the reality is  rents won't decrease on July  1st, they                 
  will probably go  higher.   Ms. Kerr said  everybody who  is                 
  concerned about their  communities advocates budget  reform,                 
  however, the budget  cuts need to  be equitable.  There  are                 
  ways to  do that  but not at  the expense  of those  who can                 
  least afford it.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 436                                                                   
                                                                               
  The next person to testify was KAREN PERDUE, from Fairbanks.                 
  She said she  has had the opportunity  to work with some  of                 
  the committee members in the past as the Deputy Commissioner                 
  of the Department of  Health and Social Services.   She said                 
  she  wants  to speak  against SB  101  as it  proposes seven                 
  statutory changes and is virtually  everything the state can                 
  legally do  to reduce benefits.   The impact on each  of the                 
  cuts  has been  well  studied over  time,  but the  combined                 
  impact of the  cuts, both on  the economy and  on the  daily                 
  lives of  about 44,000 Alaskans  that would be  impacted, is                 
  not known.                                                                   
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Ms. Perdue said if  enacted, the cuts to AFDC  will probably                 
  be the largest cut enacted in  this country in recent times.                 
  Ms. Perdue said there is an impression that many states have                 
  drastically cut AFDC benefits, but last year just six states                 
  enacted reductions to AFDC benefits.  No state has enacted a                 
  cut  as large as  the one before  the committee  today.  The                 
  issue  isn't really  how  big our  benefit  is versus  other                 
  states, it is  the rate of  reduction that the committee  is                 
  looking at.   Ms. Perdue said  she would send the  committee                 
  her testimony in writing.                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 457                                                                   
                                                                               
  ROBIN  WICKHAM, testifying  from Fairbanks,  was  against SB
  101.  One  concern is  for the  possible repercussions  that                 
  could result  if dollars are cut  from the APA and  the AFDC                 
  Programs.  Far too many individuals and families are already                 
  struggling on the current insufficient amount they are given                 
  each  month.  Nationally, we  are all going  to be forced to                 
  give more monthly income in the form of increased taxes.  As                 
  Alaskans, we  know that we  are going  to bear the  brunt of                 
  this because  of proposed increases in gasoline and fuel oil                 
  prices.  She said it  is incomprehensible to reduce benefits                 
  and strongly urged the committee not to do it.                               
                                                                               
  CONSTANCE GRIFFITH, testifying from Ketchikan, spoke against                 
  SB 101.  She said she  concurs with everything that has been                 
  said against the bill.  Ms. Griffith said people are reliant                 
  on  the  income  they presently  receive.    Their landlords                 
  expect them to pay rent.  They  know just how much milk they                 
  can buy  for their  children.   They know  exactly how  much                 
  money they  have for clothing.   When cuts are made,  it not                 
  only affects the families but also  the people from whom the                 
  families  purchase  what they  require.   Ms.  Griffith said                 
  there are many many  tax breaks that wealthy people  get and                 
  nobody ever complains  about those.  She urged the committee                 
  not to pass SB 101.                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 495                                                                   
                                                                               
  ANN PENCE,  testifying from  Kenai, said  she would  like to                 
  voice her opposition to SB 101.  Often the case is women and                 
  children are the first victims of budget cuts.  She said she                 
  understands  the legislature's  commitment to  keeping state                 
  spending within reason, but she  believes an under nourished                 
  child becomes a child who cannot learn.  A child who  cannot                 
  learn becomes  an unproductive  member of  society and  will                 
  probably  end  up   needing  assistance  from  a   state  or                 
  government agency to meet  basic financial needs.  She  said                 
  she has  heard the argument  in favor of  cutting assistance                 
  benefits and the  COLA increases  to those  benefits as  the                 
  lower 48 states don't provide a lower amount  of assistance.                 
  She has  heard that  Alaska attracts people  because of  its                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  generous public assistance programs.  Ms. Griffith continued                 
  to give testimony against SB 101 and urged that the bill not                 
  be passed.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR  ELLIS said  according to  the division's  research,                 
  people don't  move to  Alaska because  they shop  around and                 
  compare benefits across the country.  They move here because                 
  of family  members,  because  they  used to  live  here,  or                 
  because  they were told there were jobs here.  He said there                 
  are several  different reasons  why people  move to  Alaska.                 
  The reasons given by supporters of the bill are the benefits                 
  have to be  cut is because  every welfare  case in the  U.S.                 
  will be attracted to Alaska.  Also, a comment  made often by                 
  supporters of the  bill is  that poor people  don't vote  so                 
  what  do  we  have to  worry  about  in  terms of  political                 
  repercussions of cutting the budget with that group.                         
                                                                               
  JAYNE ANDREEN,  Executive Director, South  Peninsula Women's                 
  Services (SPWS)  in Homer,  testified against  SB 101.   She                 
  said  she is  very  concerned about  the  cuts.   It  is her                 
  understanding  that  the  poverty  level  is what  has  been                 
  determined as being the bottom line for what is needed for a                 
  family to cover  its basic living needs.   Our AFDC level is                 
  at 77 percent  of the  poverty level so  people are  already                 
  living below what is needed for their basic needs.  It seems                 
  like  cuts go  first to women  and children and  that is the                 
  place that we  can least afford to  do it.  She  thanked the                 
  committee for listening to her.                                              
                                                                               
  Number 544                                                                   
                                                                               
  ELLA   CAREY-STARR,   Southeast   Alaska   Regional   Health                 
  Corporation (SEARHC), testified against  SB 101 from Haines.                 
  She said it is  very wrong to punish disabled  people, women                 
  and children  by cutting  their benefits.   The  legislature                 
  needs to look at restructuring  the entire public assistance                 
  program  to  institute  training,  education, and  community                 
  service programs                                                             
  to  get  people  off  of public  assistance  programs.   She                 
  thanked the committee for letting her testify.                               
                                                                               
  CHERYL  PHILLIPS,  testifying from  Haines,  said she  is in                 
  opposition to SB 101.  She indicated she is a single mother,                 
  divorced, and isn't  receiving child support.   Ms. Phillips                 
  said three  years  ago  when  her  wages  from  crewing  and                 
  gillnetting ran out, it became apparent that filing for AFDC                 
  was her  only  option.   Since  then, she  has  worked as  a                 
  waitress and cashier but never made  a wage where she didn't                 
  require some help.   Ms. Phillips said since her layoff as a                 
  cashier last fall,  between unemployment  and AFDC, she  has                 
  received $845 per month.   She said she doesn't see how  she                 
  can get by  with less.  Ms.  Phillips said she rents  a room                 
  for her and her  son and shares kitchen and  bath facilities                 
  with two couples.  Ms. Phillips  urged the committee to find                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  other ways to  save money as  she can't afford the  proposed                 
  cuts.                                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 580                                                                   
                                                                               
  CONNIE SIPE, Executive  Director, Older Alaskans Commission,                 
  said  old age assistance  is, by state law,  a part of adult                 
  public assistance  for the aged,  blind, or  disabled.   The                 
  bill  would roll  back the  monthly  benefit checks  to poor                 
  seniors and disabled adults by as much as $36 per month.                     
                                                                               
  TAPE 93-22, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  Ms. Sipe  said the  affect  of the  roll  back to  the  1990                 
  assistance levels will also push about  325 poor seniors off                 
  the assistance program altogether.  Nearly 14 percent of all                 
  Alaskans over age 65  are recipients.  She noted  that there                 
  are 3,854 senior  Alaskans who  receive old age  assistance.                 
  Nearly 14  percent of all  Alaskans over the  age of 65  are                 
  recipients of old age assistance.   Many other adults in the                 
  50  to  65  year  age  group  are  chronically  disabled  by                 
  blindness and other health conditions and they rely on adult                 
  public assistance as do other  younger disabled people.  Ms.                 
  Sipe  said  there  is  a  federal  process  for  determining                 
  permanent  disability  which  is very  onerous  and  over 40                 
  percent  of the people  are disqualified and  do not receive                 
  that assistance.   In  addition to  just the basic  economic                 
  necessities of  life covered  by an  assistance check,  many                 
  seniors and all disabled adults who are under age 65 are not                 
  covered by Medicare  for their  health care.   Alaska has  a                 
  high  proportion  of  seniors who  never  registered  in the                 
  social  security  system  enough  quarters  to  qualify  for                 
  Medicare coverage  or social  security payments.   Ms.  Sipe                 
  continued to  give testimony against  SB 101  and urged  the                 
  legislature to rethink  the bill and to delete  all sections                 
  reducing benefits to aged, blind and disabled adults.                        
                                                                               
  ELLEN  NORTHUP,  Director, The  Glory  Hole, said  she deals                 
  daily  with  people who  have  little  or no  money  and the                 
  elderly and disabled.  She said there are people who work in                 
  places  like Burger King who will work two weeks and come to                 
  her for help in cashing their pay check.  They cannot afford                 
  a bank account  because you are  required to have a  minimal                 
  amount to open one.  She said  those people will have worked                 
  two  full  weeks, eight  hours a  day,  and take  home about                 
  $241.00.    Ms.  Northup   continued  to  discuss  hardships                 
  encountered     by  those   people.    She   said  that  her                 
  organization doesn't receive money from the state or federal                 
  government.    They  receive money  strictly  from churches,                 
  individuals, and  foundations.   It costs  $12 thousand  per                 
  month to run the Glory Hole.  She discussed the high cost of                 
  rents in  the Juneau area  and the long  list of people  who                 
  have applied for Section 8 housing.   Ms. Northup urged that                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  the committee vote against SB 101.                                           
                                                                               
  Number 058                                                                   
                                                                               
  GEORDIE CARROLL was next  to testify.  He indicated he has a                 
  disability and feels that the proposed benefit cuts would be                 
  ineffective because many people depend on the benefits.  The                 
  cuts would jeopardize people's lives by limiting the ability                 
  for  them to live.   The COLA increase  helps to give people                 
  more money to spend on their survival and many people depend                 
  on the benefits for surviving.                                               
                                                                               
  LINDA LINSON,  Advocacy Services  of  Alaska, explained  her                 
  organization  does advocacy  for  people with  disabilities.                 
  She said statistics do  not show that people come  to Alaska                 
  to receive public assistance benefits.  Ms. Linson discussed                 
  a phone call  she received  from a person  looking for  some                 
  kind of option  for her son  because her benefits are  being                 
  cut and she  can't afford to  keep her son at  home anymore.                 
  Current statistics show that 65  percent of families on AFDC                 
  are on for two years or less.  That is what  welfare is for,                 
  to help people who  need a little bit of  help transitioning                 
  through hard financial times.                                                
                                                                               
  JOY DAVIS, Anchorage,  was next  to testify.   She said  she                 
  works for Access Alaska but would speak on behalf of her own                 
  situation.    She  said  she  experiences a  disability,  is                 
  eligible for adult public assistance and AFDC as she has two                 
  small infants and a  foster daughter.  The proposed  cuts to                 
  adult public assistance and AFDC is  approximately one-tenth                 
  of her budget.   She said she is in the  situation where she                 
  does have  a part-time  job and  can  supplement her  income                 
  where a lot of people on  public assistance programs are not                 
  able to do that.  She said  the proposed budget cuts are not                 
  appropriate.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 118                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHRISTINE PHILLIPS,  testifying in  Juneau, said  she is  an                 
  AFDC recipient and receives $845 per month and $64 per month                 
  in food stamps.  She said  she pays rent, utilities, medical                 
  bills that Medicaid  doesn't pay, transportation, food  that                 
  the $64 doesn't  cover.   She noted  she has a  14 year  old                 
  daughter.  Ms.  Phillips said  she can't take  the cuts  and                 
  they aren't fair.                                                            
                                                                               
  HUGH DOOGAN, testifying from Fairbanks,  was against SB 101.                 
  He  said he doesn't  feel that  people's benefits  should be                 
  cut.    Alaska has  the  assistance programs  for  very good                 
  reasons.  He said he is  retired but is fortunate as he  has                 
  been able to work and  support his family.  Mr. Doogan  said                 
  there are some things  that need to be done and  one is that                 
  if a woman  and child end  up on public assistance,  whether                 
  they are single or married, it is still an obligation of the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  male to take  care of his  responsibility of bringing  those                 
  children  into the  world.   He  referred  to child  support                 
  payments and said the courts  should include COLA increases.                 
  Ms. Doogan  said he  believes that  when a women  who is  on                 
  public  assistance becomes  pregnant,  she  should name  the                 
  father and go  after him for the  costs.  If they  can't get                 
  any  money from the  father, it should  be taken  out of his                 
  permanent fund checks.                                                       
                                                                               
  SENATOR ELLIS  referred to  Mr. Doogan's  comments regarding                 
  some people being  deeper in poverty because  of the obligor                 
  parent not paying child support and said there is a proposal                 
  being pushed in  the legislature  for closing the  Fairbanks                 
  and  the  Juneau Child  Support  Enforcement Offices.   That                 
  would probably  set back  efforts in  getting children  what                 
  they deserve under court orders.                                             
                                                                               
  Number 172                                                                   
                                                                               
  EVELYN NAVARRO, testifying in Juneau, said she receives $808                 
  per month and $620 of that goes to rent.  She  said she eats                 
  lunch at The  Glory Hole.   She  said she is  trying to  get                 
  ahead and it seems like she is going backwards.  Ms. Navarro                 
  said last year she was homeless and lived at The Glory Hole.                 
  She  has been in  and out of  the hospital and  is currently                 
  waiting for  surgery to be done  on her knee.   Her daughter                 
  lives with her,  is attending  adult education classes,  and                 
  receives $169 per month  in food stamps.  She  discussed her                 
  current living conditions  and said she doesn't  see how she                 
  will  survive  with  the  cuts   to  the  public  assistance                 
  programs.                                                                    
                                                                               
  VICKY  BORREGO,  Legislative  Liaison,   Catholic  Community                 
  Service  (CCS),  explained  that  Bishop  Michael  Kenny  is                 
  traveling but  did want to  share his concerns  regarding SB
  101.    A  major theme  of  CCS is  a  strong  commitment to                 
  advocate for public  policies and programs which  meet basic                 
  human needs and promotes  self sufficiency and independence.                 
  Ms. Borrego said they  feel SB 101 does not  promote greater                 
  self sufficiency,  independence or empowerment.   It reduces                 
  an already extremely  spartan monthly benefit  even further.                 
  She  said  instead  of  punishing  the recipient  of  public                 
  assistance benefits, including  the elderly disabled  adults                 
  and dependent children,  why not  identify and quantify  the                 
  basic  problems   contributing  to   the  need   for  public                 
  assistance such  as some  of the  recommendations that  have                 
  appeared in Governor Hickel's Organizational Efficiency Task                 
  Force Report published in July,  1992.  The report may  be a                 
  possible solution.  She urged that SB 101 not be passed.                     
                                                                               
  CHARLES  WHEATON,  of Juneau,  said  he is  representing his                 
  family.    He read  the following  letter that  was recently                 
  published in the Juneau Empire:                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  To the House  Finance Committee:   Please think twice  about                 
  taking more money  from my step  kid's welfare.  These  AFDC                 
  grants they  are  entitled to  are  already cut  each  month                 
  because I am  unemployed and the  state welfare takes  money                 
  from my unemployment benefits.                                               
                                                                               
  Out of the $720 I receive each month, $200 gets taken out to                 
  pay off an old AFDC debt.  The $200 we never  see is counted                 
  each  month as  income  on my  wife's  AFDC grant.    So the                 
  welfare takes dollar for dollar from her kids this month.                    
                                                                               
  They,  or  we as  a  family of  five, receive  $130  in food                 
  stamps, or about $32  a week to try to spend on food.  And a                 
  $170 check to pay  $415 rent.  My unemployment  insurance is                 
  $520.                                                                        
                                                                               
  I am fighting  the state to pay child support.   Yes, that's                 
  right.  I can't pay child support.  The state takes  it from                 
  my kids.   $426  is  my support  order that  was entered  on                 
  default by the same judge who put me in jail for two years a                 
  month earlier.    I strongly  believe in  the child  support                 
  payments.  The welfare is taking funds and food away from my                 
  two new step-kids.  What more do you guys want?                              
                                                                               
  Welfare  is to help  people in need  and give them  a second                 
  chance, something my new family isn't  getting.  So wake up,                 
  you guys.  You try to live off $35 a week with your families                 
  and growing kids.  We're a  family of five people, taxpayers                 
  also.   We're a  family of five people,  taxpayers also.  We                 
  will remember you at election time.                                          
                                                                               
  Mr. Wheaton urged that SB 101 not be passed into law.                        
                                                                               
  Number 253                                                                   
                                                                               
  DARRYL GUTHRIE, Human Services Department, Tlingit and Haida                 
  Central Council, testified against SB 101.   He said he runs                 
  the  General  Assistance  Program.    The  capacity  of  his                 
  workload includes about twelve villages and communities.  If                 
  people don't  qualify for  AFDC, they  probably qualify  for                 
  general assistance.  In  February, there were 189 cases  out                 
  of the twelve communities.  There is already a loss of pride                 
  and dignity and SB  101 is another slap in the  face for the                 
  people who are suffering the most.  He said he is opposed to                 
  SB 101 and urged the committee to vote against the bill.                     
                                                                               
  SHERRY GOLL,  representing Alaska Women's Lobby  and KIDPAC,                 
  spoke in opposition to SB 101.  She said the cuts  will hurt                 
  23,000 children, 9,000  elderly and disabled, and  89 blind.                 
  Ms. Goll  said 350 elderly  people will lose  their benefits                 
  completely and  may or  may not  lose their  eligibility for                 
  Medicaid.  There  are also  31 children who  fall into  that                 
  category.  She gave committee members a draft  document that                 
  gives an  idea  of  the  distribution  of  the  citizens  in                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Alaska's  communities.    Ms.  Goll  referred to  the  needs                 
  standard and  said we are  meeting it today but  will not be                 
  meeting it any longer  if the legislation  is to pass.   She                 
  said  sometimes   she  hears  people   talking  about  other                 
  assistance programs, food stamps, housing assistance,  etc.,                 
  and said  in the community of  Juneau there is a  three year                 
  waiting  list  for public  housing.   Public housing  is not                 
  available to everyone on public assistance.  Food  stamps do                 
  not begin to meet the needs of a family and can only be used                 
  for basic food  items.  Ms. Goll  said a bus pass  costs $40                 
  per month.   If the  goal is to  reduce the need  for public                 
  assistance,  we have to  look at  things such  as increasing                 
  child support enforcement, and the Jobs Program.  She  urged                 
  the committee to try and reach a compromise on the bill  and                 
  not to accept all the cuts in one year.  Ms.  Goll continued                 
  to testify against SB 101.                                                   
                                                                               
  CINDY SMITH, Executive Director, Alaska Network on  Domestic                 
  Violence, said her organization has opposed cuts to the AFDC                 
  and  APA Programs.   They  are opposed  because of  concerns                 
  about immediate  safety in  terms of  escaping from  violent                 
  relationships  and  because  the cuts  to  marginally stable                 
  people  will  put them  on  the  street.   She  said  when a                 
  rateable reduction  is made,  women will  be juggling  their                 
  bills and eventually  won't be able to pay  them.  When they                 
  can't  pay them,  they will  be on  the  street.   There are                 
  particularly severe problems in Anchorage and Fairbanks with                 
  rape and  sexual assault  of women  who are  homeless.   The                 
  shelters don't have  any bed space  left and they have  been                 
  over capacity for  a year and  a half.  She  urged increased                 
  job training, child support enforcement and the reviewing of                 
  non-needs based  programs.  Ms. Smith urged the committee to                 
  not pass SB 101.                                                             
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  said the  bill would  be heard  again at  a                 
  later date.                                                                  
  Number 421                                                                   
  Chairman Rieger adjourned the Senate HESS Committee  meeting                 
  at 3:45 p.m.                                                                 
                                                                               

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