Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/26/2004 08:45 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 date. 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 nd 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 Subcommittee. HB 507 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.