Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/26/2004 08:45 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 507                                                                                                            
     An Act  providing for  and relating  to the issuance  of                                                                   
     general obligation  bonds for the purpose  of paying the                                                                   
     cost of  design, construction, and major  maintenance of                                                                   
     educational facilities; and providing for an effective                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE HAWKER, SPONSOR, commented that the bill                                                                   
was introduced  following consultation with the University of                                                                   
Alaska,   recognizing   the   needs   for  continued   design                                                                   
construction  and expansion  for  statewide facilities.   The                                                                   
bill  is modeled  after  the 22   Legislature  education bond                                                                   
bill.   As structured, HB 507 is a  general obligation (G.O.)                                                                   
bond  and would  require voter  approval.   Getting  any G.O.                                                                   
bond  on a  ballot  could be  problematic unless  there  is a                                                                   
larger  package of fiscal  legislation.  The  bill as drafted                                                                   
contains  only  a  list  of University  facilities  with  the                                                                   
largest  item   being  the  integrated  science  facility  in                                                                   
Anchorage.  There are other facilities included.                                                                                
Representative   Hawker  pointed  out  that  when  originally                                                                   
introduced, the  amounts proposed were brought forward by the                                                                   
administration  of the University.  He suggested that part of                                                                   
the intent of introducing  HB 507, is contemplating statewide                                                                   
K-12 needs.                                                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Williams stated that the bill  would be placed into                                                                   
a  Subcommittee consisting  of Representative John  Harris as                                                                   
the  Chair   and  with  members   Representative  Hawker  and                                                                   
Representative Croft.                                                                                                           
DARREL HARGRAVES,  SUPERINTENDANT, YUKON FLATS SCHOOLS, noted                                                                   
that  HB  507  is the  only  bill  with  a  title that  could                                                                   
incorporate  some regular  K-12 projects.   He  stressed that                                                                   
the  Capital Improvement Project  (CIP) list prepared  by the                                                                   
Department   of  Education   &  Early   Development  includes                                                                   
projects  that  have been  scrutinized.     He stressed  that                                                                   
these are needed projects.                                                                                                      
DOROTHY  ADAMS, PRESIDENT  FOR YUKON  FLATS  SCHOOL DISTRICT,                                                                   
stated  that the Arctic  Village School  is number #5  on the                                                                   
CIP  list.   It is a  former Bureau  of Indian  Affairs (BIA)                                                                   
facility   and  judged  to  be  inadequate   and  unsafe  for                                                                   
students.   There is heavy oil saturation.   The furnace is a                                                                   
fire hazard  due to oil leaks.  She  noted that the last bond                                                                   
issue provided  sufficient funds to do an architecture design                                                                   
and it  would be best to  proceed at this time.   The project                                                                   
would  require $182  thousand dollars  from the  district and                                                                   
the  district is  prepared to  make  that contribution.   Ms.                                                                   
Adams  requested that the  school's CIP list  should be added                                                                   
to HB 507.                                                                                                                      
Co-Chair  Harris asked if they were aware  of SB 283, dealing                                                                   
with  school  funding and  if  they had  applied pressure  on                                                                   
their  Senator to support  that legislation.   He pointed out                                                                   
that  there  has  been  a proposal  to  put  in  the top  ten                                                                   
projects into that  bill.  Ms. Adams responded that they have                                                                   
spoken to their senator and anyone else who would listen.                                                                       
Representative Hawker clarified  that there is both the major                                                                   
maintenance  list  and the  capital  construction  list.   He                                                                   
pointed  out that  their needs  are listed  in the CIP  list.                                                                   
Mr. Hargraves  agreed and  noted that  he would also  support                                                                   
the major  maintenance list,  as it  is important because  it                                                                   
keeps projects off the CIP list.                                                                                                
CARL ROSE, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATION OF  ALASKA SCHOOL                                                                   
BOARDS, JUNEAU,  stated that  the Association is  considering                                                                   
how to accomplish  tasks that need  to be addressed.   He put                                                                   
forward that  a couple years  ago, they  were part of  a G.O.                                                                   
Bond,   however,  they   no  longer   have  the  ability   to                                                                   
appropriate  for the  needs for  the  State but  do have  the                                                                   
ability to bond  out over a period of time,  taking advantage                                                                   
of low interest  rates.  That  option appears to be  the only                                                                   
way  to address  many of  the capital  and major  maintenance                                                                   
needs.   When  putting  a  G.O.  bond together,  passing  the                                                                   
electorate must be  considered.  A major appeal  package must                                                                   
be shaped.                                                                                                                      
Mr. Rose  identified projects, noting  one on the  list where                                                                   
the well system has failed; in  Copper River, the result from                                                                   
the serious  leakage is now dry  rot; another project  on the                                                                   
list  is a  roof system  that is  in need  of serious  repair                                                                   
where the roof is now sagging.   That project is listed as #3                                                                   
with life safety at hand.  He  urged that each critical issue                                                                   
on the list be addressed.                                                                                                       
Mr.  Rose commented  that  the State  must  determine how  to                                                                   
fashion a  G.O. bond  so the critical  issues are  addressed.                                                                   
He  pointed out  the document  included in  the files,  which                                                                   
educates  people  regarding  the  critical  needs  statewide.                                                                   
(Copy on  File).   He advised  that the Association  supports                                                                   
the concept  of G.O. bonds,  as it would  be a viable  way to                                                                   
address  critical  needs.   Public  schools  are the  State's                                                                   
investment and must be protected.   Major maintenance must be                                                                   
addressed in an  appropriate fashion to reduce  the long-term                                                                   
need for construction.                                                                                                          
Mr. Rose noted  that there are  a number of items in  play at                                                                   
this  time   having  the  Senate   dealing  with   the  major                                                                   
maintenance  list.   He noted  that there  are other  options                                                                   
available, however, the end result  is, if no action is taken                                                                   
this year,  the problems  will become  even more  exacerbated                                                                   
and dangerous.   He  acknowledged that this  is also  tied to                                                                   
the fiscal plan and that a G.O.  bond is most likely the only                                                                   
way to  address these  needs.   He offered  to work  with the                                                                   
HB 507 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                         

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