Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/25/1994 01:40 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.