Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/07/2001 08:10 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 37 - STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1888                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BUNDE  announced the next  order of business as  HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO.  37, "An  Act relating  to reimbursement  of certain  student                                                               
loans; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  BUNDE  asked  if  there was  any  more  public  testimony.                                                               
Hearing none, he closed public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUESS asked  Representative Stevens  if he  would                                                               
consider  putting in  a clause  similar to  the one  in HB  43 on                                                               
geographically underserved  areas or  subject shortage  to target                                                               
the problem.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1849                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  responded that  there are  some excellent                                                               
issues  to   discuss.    The   idea  of  identifying   the  needs                                                               
geographically and  the shortages  in subject  areas, as  long as                                                               
they are  identified, could  easily be  pulled in to  HB 37.   In                                                               
essence,  100   percent  forgiveness,  one  way   or  the  other,                                                               
accomplishes   the  same   thing  whether   it  is   a  five-year                                                               
forgiveness,  freshman  through  graduate  school, in  HB  37  or                                                               
beyond 60 hours  in HB 43; in  the end he thinks it  is a similar                                                               
dollar amount.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN reminded the committee:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     If they  take 100 applicants  in year one, by  the time                                                                    
     we get  to year  three, that  may be down  to 20  or 25                                                                    
     because we've lost  all these people who  are not going                                                                    
     to  finish.   So  now we're  talking  about only  using                                                                    
     about whatever ratio  ... that would be  the group that                                                                    
     would end up with effectively  50 percent of their loan                                                                    
     pre-paid,  not this  big group  that  dropped out,  and                                                                    
     that's the difference between the two bills.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  clarified  that the  student  would  not                                                               
receive  forgiveness unless  he/she was  teaching in  HB 37.   He                                                               
commented:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     A lot of the discussion  that has occurred is under the                                                                    
     assumption  that if  you don't  actually graduate,  you                                                                    
     somehow   have  failed....      There's  a   tremendous                                                                    
     advantage to our state when  people take any classes at                                                                    
     the university  or college.   This does not  apply, but                                                                    
     still I ... keep hearing  this that it's a failure, and                                                                    
     you're  not  contributing  to   society  if  you  don't                                                                    
     actually  get  a college  degree.    That's really  not                                                                    
     true.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JOULE  referred   to  the   comment  about   the                                                               
university providing  about 30 percent  of the state's  needs for                                                               
teachers.  He asked if that  percent takes out the 50 percent who                                                               
completed the teaching degree but chose not to teach.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked what  information the fiscal note was                                                               
comprised of.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1679                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  REDMAN answered  Representative  Joule that  the 30  percent                                                               
total is those who are actually  teaching.  It does not count the                                                               
50 percent  of the university  graduates who are  doing something                                                               
else.  It could potentially be higher.   The 30 percent is of all                                                               
teachers.   At the elementary level,  close to 68 percent  of the                                                               
need  is being  filled; the  problem is  in the  specialty areas,                                                               
many of  which the university  does not even offer,  like foreign                                                               
languages, physical education, and other specialty areas.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE referred  to Ms.  Redman's earlier  points:                                                               
"1) that we need to continue  to invest in the University; and 2)                                                               
that 50  percent of the people  who did not go  into teaching but                                                               
received their  degrees did  it because they  can get  higher pay                                                               
someplace else."   He commented, "We seem to be  missing the boat                                                               
on  50 percent  of  the  people who  are  already  in the  system                                                               
because ... we can't be competitive on the wage market."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. REDMAN replied that she had  said, "Pay was one [reason].  It                                                               
was the  first thing in the  polling we do, but  the second issue                                                               
is locale."   It's a very  significant issue that there  are many                                                               
graduates who want to teach in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN clarified his comments:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     I'm  not saying  that if  they don't  qualify for  this                                                                    
     loan  that they're  failures; by  no means  do I  imply                                                                    
     that.    I'm   just  saying  that  this   is  a  single                                                                    
     possibility  to try  and encourage  students  to go  to                                                                    
     school here and teach here,  and if they don't do that,                                                                    
     they  just don't  qualify  for  this loan  forgiveness.                                                                    
     That in  no way means  that they're failures.   Even if                                                                    
     they  take  one  course,  ... that's  better  than  not                                                                    
     taking any course.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BUNDE  indicated that he  would like some  conclusion today                                                               
about HB 37.   The committee will hear HB 43 next  week.  He said                                                               
that  HB 54  is going  to  be a  difficult challenge  financially                                                               
because it spends the Student Loan Corporation's money.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1470                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS made  a motion to move HB  37, as amended,                                                               
from the  committee with individual recommendations  and attached                                                               
fiscal notes.  There being  no objection, CSHB 37(EDU) moved from                                                               
the House Special Committee on Education.                                                                                       

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