Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/25/1994 01:40 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                     
                         April 25, 1994                                        
                           1:40 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                                
 Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 301                                    
 "An Act relating to the calculation of instructional units used in            
 determining state aid for education and increasing elementary and             
 secondary instructional units for certain school districts with 800           
 or fewer students in average daily membership; and providing for an           
 effective date." WAS HEARD, BUT NOT SCHEDULED.                                
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 304                                                           
 "An Act authorizing the issuance of bonds by the Alaska Housing               
 Finance Corporation to pay for the costs of repair and                        
 rehabilitation of student housing facilities of the University of             
 Alaska; authorizing the issuance of bonds by the University of                
 Alaska to pay for the costs of repair and rehabilitation of                   
 facilities of the University of Alaska; amending powers of the                
 Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; amending the definition of                
 `public building'; relating to the Alaska debt retirement fund; and           
 providing for an effective date."                                             
                                                                               
  HB 506  (STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT HEARD.                 
                                                                               
  SB 346  (REPORT CHARITABLE GAMING WINNERS) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT            
 HEARD.                                                                        
                                                                               
  HB 472  (REFERRALS INVOLVING DENTAL SERVICES) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT    OT   
 HEARD.                                                                        
                                                                               
  HB 478  (AUTHORITY TO PRONOUNCE DEATH) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT HEARD.    D.   
  HB 507  (LICENSING OF OPTOMETRISTS AND PHYSICIANS) WAS SCHEDULED,            
 BUT NOT HEARD.                                                                
                                                                               
  HJR 54  (SUPPORT MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCT LEGIS) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT     T    
 HEARD.                                                                        
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SB 301 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          3/30/94 and 4/18/94.                                                 
                                                                               
 SB 304 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          4/18/94.                                                             
                                                                               
 HB 506 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 SB 346 - See Labor & Commerce minutes dated 3/31/94 and Health,               
          Education & Social Services minutes dated 4/15/94 and                
          4/18/94.                                                             
                                                                               
 HB 472 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          4/15/94 and 4/18/94.                                                 
                                                                               
 HB 478 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 HB 507 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 HJR 54 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          4/15/94 and 4/18/94.                                                 
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 John Hotzfield, Confirmation Nominee                                          
 Board of Education                                                            
 Fairbanks, Alaska                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions.                                    
                                                                               
 Allison Elgee, Budget Director                                                
 University of Alaska                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Reviewed SB 304.                                       
                                                                               
 Chip Wagoner, Vice-President                                                  
 University of Alaska-Fairbanks Alumni Association                             
 3294 Pioneer Avenue                                                           
 Juneau, Alaska                                                                
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 304.                                      
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 94-34, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER called the Senate Health, Education and Social                
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 1:40 p.m.  He noted that they           
 were trying to get John Hotzfield, the Board of Education                     
 confirmation nominee, on-line for questions.  He introduced  SB 301           
 (REVISE FOUNDATION FORMULA, SMALL SCHOOLS) as the first order of              
 business before the committee.  The CS for SB 301 amends the "hold            
 harmless" provisions of the education formula by lowering the                 
 triggering point of "hold harmless" from 10 percent to 5 percent.             
 He also noted that the CS changes the threshold of extreme ADM                
 student enrollment decreases from year to year.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER moved to adopt the CS, the 8-LS1716\J version, for             
 SB 301 in lieu of the original bill.  SENATOR ELLIS objected.                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS opposed the elimination of the rewrite of the formula           
 for the single sites.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO inquired as to the difference between a drop in                  
 students versus a tremendous drop in students.  She supported                 
 funding going where the students are, not where they are not.                 
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER explained that under existing law there is a single           
 "hold harmless" which drops 25 percent a year to the new level.               
 The CS would decrease the trigger points to 5 percent which is a              
 smaller drop; extreme drops in enrollment have an accelerated rate            
 of adjustment, the "hold harmless" is less.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO used Adak as an example.  If Adak has 130 students               
 next year from the approximately 400 or 500 students currently                
 enrolled, then the CS would decrease their unit funding by one-               
 third.  CHAIRMAN RIEGER said that the entitlement for instructional           
 units is not directly proportional to the number of students.  If             
 Adak lost more than 50 percent of their entitlement, it would                 
 decrease by half way between what they were entitled to and what              
 they started with.  By the second year, they would be at their                
 entitlement.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 104                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS said that he would not have opposed this if he felt             
 that they were going to handle the comprehensive rewrite of the               
 school foundation formula.  He felt that without that opportunity,            
 the issue would not be resolved for another year or two.                      
                                                                               
 Upon a hand vote, Senators Leman, Miller, Rieger, and Sharp voted             
 "Yea" and Senators Salo and Ellis voted "Nay."  The CS was adopted.           
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER moved the CS for SB 301 out of committee with                  
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objections, it was so                 
 ordered.                                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER informed the committee that John Hotzfield was on-            
 line for questions.                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked Mr. Hotzfield if he felt that he would be a good           
 trustee of public education when his involvement with public                  
 education is limited.  She asked if he was a Christian school                 
 teacher.  JOHN HOTZFIELD said yes, he said he was a Christian                 
 school teacher.  Mr. Hotzfield felt that he was an advocate of                
 children statewide in all forms of education and therefore, he felt           
 qualified.  Mr. Hotzfield said that he does not bring a personal              
 agenda into his work.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked if Mr. Hotzfield felt that part of being an                
 advocate for children would also mean being an advocate for public            
 education as well.  JOHN HOTZFIELD said yes, the better public                
 education, the better it would be for the children.                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS inquired as to Mr. Hotzfield's position on Governor             
 Hickel's proposal regarding outcome based education.  JOHN                    
 HOTZFIELD pointed out that there are many forms of outcome based              
 education.  Mr. Hotzfield viewed outcome based education as setting           
 goals for children and then attempting to reach them.  Mr.                    
 Hotzfield stated that they want to make the system accountable to             
 the parents and the children.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 180                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN inquired as to Mr. Hotzfield's residency.  JOHN                 
 HOTZFIELD said that he resides in Fairbanks.                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS asked Mr. Hotzfield of his opinion regarding                    
 vouchers.  JOHN HOTZFIELD explained that vouchers are not an issue            
 because they are not constitutional.  Mr. Hotzfield expressed the             
 need to place the ownership of education back into the hands of the           
 parents which means that he would support vouchers or anything else           
 that would accomplish that.                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS asked Mr. Hotzfield if he meant that he supported               
 vouchers, but realized that they were constitutionally impaired.              
 JOHN HOTZFIELD explained that if vouchers were constitutionally               
 legal, then he would support them.  Mr. Hotzfield mentioned a                 
 parental voucher of which he did not know the constitutional                  
 status.                                                                       
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER recessed to the call of the Chair.                            
                                                                               
 Number 218                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought the meeting back to order at 3:00 p.m.  He            
 introduced  SB 304  (AHFC BONDS FOR UNIV. OF ALASKA USES) as the last    st   
 order of business before the committee.                                       
                                                                               
 ALLISON ELGEE, Budget Director for the University of Alaska,                  
 explained that SB 304 would authorize $75 million in bonds in order           
 to deal with approximately one-half of the identified deferred                
 maintenance needs of the university system.  $30 million would be             
 bonded through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporations in order to            
 address the deferred maintenance needs of student housing.  She               
 said that the remaining $45 million would be bonded through the               
 University of Alaska to deal with a portion of the other deferred             
 maintenance needs.                                                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS moved Amendment 1.  He explained that he had worked             
 on this language with the university and the sponsor.  Amendment 1            
 adds language addressing the needs of the University of Alaska-               
 Southeast (UAS) and the University of Alaska housing needs.                   
                                                                               
   Hearing no objections, Amendment 1 was adopted.                           
                                                                               
 CHIP WAGONER, Vice-President of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks            
 Alumni Association and member of the Board of Directors,  said that           
 SB 304 was the only legislative priority for the Alumni                       
 Association.  He explained that the university became a true                  
 university in 1935 with a three part mission to teach, research and           
 serve the public.  He noted that the University of Alaska-Fairbanks           
 is recognized internationally and ranks in the top 100 research               
 universities in the U.S.  He described the Fairbanks campus and               
 pointed out that it is one of the oldest facilities in Alaska, some           
 of these buildings are twenty years old.  He described the                    
 disintegration found on the Fairbanks campus.  He asserted that the           
 Fairbanks campus is a mess.  He urged the committee to support SB
 304 because it is important for the future of the University of               
 Alaska.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 309                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said that he did not disagree with Mr. Wagoner's                
 assessments; however, he expressed frustration that money which               
 should have been used for maintenance was used in other programs.             
 Now there is a serious need to fix up the campus and the                      
 legislature cannot turn its back.  He suggested that there had been           
 mismanagement which created this problem and it is unfair.                    
                                                                               
 CHIP WAGONER did not believe that it was due to mismanagement, it             
 was due to the age of the campus.  He pointed out that there are              
 deferred maintenance problems at UAS and UAA also.  He offered to             
 talk to the committee later about the various problems.                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER moved SB 304 as amended out of committee with                  
 individual recommendations.                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER stated that he could not see borrowing more money;            
 where does it end.  He did acknowledge that there was a pressing              
 need, but the state's fiscal future should be reviewed as well.               
                                                                               
 Hearing no objections, it was so ordered.                                     
                                                                               
 There being no further business before the committee, the meeting             
 was adjourned at 4:15 p.m.                                                    
                                                                               

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