Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519
03/12/2020 09:00 AM FINANCE
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|Consideration of Governor's Appointee: Lucinda Mahoney, Commissioner, Department of Revenue|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HOUSE BILL NO. 181 "An Act relating to mental health education." 10:09:32 AM Co-Chair Johnston invited the sponsor to the table. REPRESENTATIVE MATT CLAMAN, SPONSOR read prepared statement: Co-chairs, members of the House Finance committee, thank you for hearing House Bill 181, "An Act relating to mental health education." House Bill 181 amends the existing K-12 public school health education statute to include mental health guidelines for all K-12 health classrooms to educate students on vital information about mental health symptoms, resources, and treatment. Currently, the Alaska health curriculum guidelines include prevention and treatment of diseases; learning about "good" health practices like diet, exercise, and personal hygiene; and "bad" health habits such as substance abuse, alcoholism, and physical abuse. But the guidelines do not address mental health. HB 181 will result in updating the health curriculum guidelines to include mental health. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the guidelines are voluntary and school districts can choose whether to offer health classes. The local districts retain control of their health curriculum. Lucas Johnson, who you will hear testify today, was 18 years old and in his junior year at Monticello High School in Virginia's Albemarle County when he and fellow classmates Alexander Moreno and Choetsow Tenzin began lobbying for more mental health resources in their school. From troubling social media posts to bullying to students in distress who felt they had nowhere to turn, Johnson and his classmates saw how unaddressed mental health was hurting their peers. Johnson and his classmates recognized that while the Virginia Board of Education's Standards of Learning already included some mental health education, the standards were by no means comprehensive. So, they pushed for a law that would require the Board of Education to review and update the health Standards of Living for students in grades 9 and 10 to include mental health. Since this provision was signed into law in Virginia in March of 2018, the State of Maine passed a similar law. Now, we have the opportunity to consider similar legislation in Alaska, where the statistics show that the severity of unaddressed mental health among our youth and teenage populations is nothing short of a public health crisis. According to the 2017 Alaska High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which surveyed 1,343 students in grades 9-12 from 40 high schools across the state, more than 1 in 3 students reported feeling sad or hopeless, for a period of at least 2 weeks, during the 12 months preceding the survey. Furthermore, the SAMHSA National Survey in Drug Use and Health estimates that in 2015 and 2016, 15% of adolescents aged 12-17 reported that they had at least 1 major depressive episode during the 12 months preceding the survey. Both of these studies are included in your bill packets for reference. HB 181 requires the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to develop guidelines for instruction in mental health education in consultation with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, counselors, educators, students, administrators and representatives of national and state mental health organizations and regional tribal health organizations. After standards have been developed, the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development will be responsible for facilitating implementation throughout the Alaska school system, utilizing an existing school health education specialist position to assist in state-wide program coordination. As with existing health education curriculum, the Department of Education and Early Development, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Council in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault will provide technical assistance to school districts in the development of curricula. The state has a responsibility to treat the current mental health crisis in Alaska as a serious public health issue. By creating mental health education standards and encouraging schools to teach a mental health curriculum, HB 181 aims to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and increase students' knowledge of mental health, encouraging conversation around and understanding of the issue. Representative Claman indicated his staff, Sophie Jonas, would present a Sectional Analysis of the bill. 10:15:52 AM SOPHIE JONAS, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE MATT CLAMAN read the sectional analysis: Section 1 Legislative Intent Adds intent language stating it is the intent of the legislature that the Board of Education and Early Development develop guidelines for instruction in mental health in consultation with representatives of mental health organizations and regional tribal health organizations, including the National Council for Behavioral Health, Providence Health and Services Alaska, Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Inc., North Star Behavioral Health System, and the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness Alaska. Section 2 AS 14.30.360. Health education curriculum; physical activity guidelines. Amends AS 14.30.360 by removing the word "physical" when referencing instruction for health education and adding "mental health" to the list of curriculum items each district includes in their health education programs. Section 3 AS 14.30.360. Health education curriculum; physical activity guidelines. Amends AS 14.30.360 by clarifying that health guidelines developed by the Board of Education and Early Development must provide standards for instruction in mental health and be developed in consultation with the Department of Health and Social Services and representatives of national and state mental health organizations. Section 4 Amends the uncodified law of the State of Alaska by adding a new section to read "the state Board of Education and Early Development shall develop the mental health guidelines required by AS 14.30.360(b), as amended by sec. 3 of this Act, within two years after the effective date of this Act." Ms. Jonas was available for questions. 10:17:34 AM [A video was played entitled, "And Mental Health."] 10:21:45 AM Co-Chair Johnston indicated there was invited testimony. She asked testifiers to limit their testimony to 3 minutes. JASON LESSARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS (NAMI), ANCHORAGE, spoke in support of HB 181. He provided some background information and important statistics. He reported that one in five teens had a serious mental disorder at some point in their lives. He claimed that 50 percent of all lifetime mental illnesses began by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. He recognized that mental illness onset was largely happening in the teenaged brain and in the brain of transitional aged youth. He returned to the notion that half of all lifetime mental illnesses began by freshman year of high school for youth. He thought it was imperative to have safe informed conversations with youth about mental illnesses and mental wellness. One of the largest barriers to seeking help was stigma. He asserted that stigma was born of ignorance and education was the most effective antidote. Mr. Lessard asserted that although there were several great programs educating youth and staff around the state, the programs did not engage directly with Alaska's youth. He thought the bill would help to put standards into place. He asserted that not all programs were created equal. Although some of the programs were created with good intentions, some of them had negative or fatal consequences. He noted the example of ALICE Training the active shooter drill training. Improperly implemented, the trainings were causing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in some youth. He also pointed out that interaction between peers was imperative. He mentioned a NAMI program that was presented in schools that had been effective in changing knowledge and attitudes towards mental health as well as seeking help. The National Council on Behavioral Health saw value in early engagement and was currently piloting a teen mental health first aid program in various communities around the state. He stressed the importance of adding mental health to the current health curriculum statute and creating guidelines to ensure that the curriculum was being implemented safely and effectively in the various districts. 10:27:08 AM LUCAS JOHNSON, SELF, BRUNSWICK, MAINE, supported HB 181. He spoke of the importance of ensuring that all students had the opportunity to talk about and learn about mental health. He thought it was critical to have mental health education within Alaska's statutes and in its classrooms. He believed that HB 181 was an integral bill to ensuring all students were given the opportunity to learn about one of the most important aspects of their health: mental health. He suggested that it was fundamental to understand that having the requisite language, materials, and knowledge to get help when a person needed it was as important as teaching someone about any other part of their body. He thought HB 181 would ensure that Alaska's youth received what they needed. He thought the statistics mentioned by the previous speaker provided enough evidence that early intervention in teaching youth about mental health was critical. He reiterated his support FOR HB 181. 10:29:56 AM NATALIE FRASER, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY THROUGH STORY TELLING, ANCHORAGE, spoke in support in HB 181. She was currently a high school student in Anchorage. She talked about learning about physical health and care. However, she experienced mental health conditions that were detrimental to her wellbeing. She believed that mental illness was thought to be what other people had. She talked about the benefits of suicide prevention programs. She indicated that if she had not received help from a suicide prevention program, she would not be present today. She thought it was important to recognize that life was hard. She reiterated her support for HB 181. 10:32:59 AM Co-Chair Johnston OPENED Public Testimony. ZOE KAPLAN, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY THROUGH STORY TELLING, ANCHORAGE, spoke in support of HB 181. She provided a personal experience with depression. She had a network of support. However, she relayed her observation of others struggling with their mental Health. She thought mental health had not become a topic of normal conversation. She suggested that people were not able to get the help and resources they needed because they did not have the education to identify what they were experiencing. [The testifier faded in and out during her testimony]. She thought it was neglectful and a risk to Alaska youth not to provide them with information that could potentially save them. She reiterated her support for the legislation. 10:36:23 AM Co-Chair Johnston CLOSED Public Testimony. Co-Chair Johnston wanted to hold questions until after the fiscal note was presented. Representative Claman indicated he had some concerns with the fiscal note. LACEY SANDERS, ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR, reviewed the fiscal note with OMB component number 2796. She detailed that the cost associated with implementation of standards for the Department of Education (DEED) consisted of a total of $113,000 unrestricted general funds (UGF). The department had requested a multi-year appropriation due to the 2-year implementation covering FY 21 and FY 22. The fiscal note contained 4 one-time multi-year expenses. The first expense in the amount of $35,000 would pay for a year-long contract with state of national subject matter expert with experience facilitating the creation of the state health education standards. The second expense in the amount of $60,000 paid for travel for 20 to 30 representatives of mental health organizations to convene in Anchorage for 2 separate 2-day meetings. The next expense was for $6,000 for legal services costs associated with producing new regulations. Lastly, there was an expense of $12,000 for the creation and printing and booklets of the new health education standards that would be distributed to 500 schools, 54 school districts, and other health education stakeholders. She noted that the fiscal note reflected the department's standard request when implementing standards. The department had implemented several standards in the past and were being put forward currently. It reflected the associated costs each time the department implemented new standards. 10:39:11 AM Representative LeBon asked what the expectation or the responsibility of the Fairbanks School District would be to the program. Ms. Sanders responded that the way the bill was currently written the implementation of standards at the school district level were optional. The Department of Education and Early Development would develop the standards and would present them to the State Board of Education for approval. The department would then work with the school districts to address any concerns. Co-Chair Foster referred to Ms. Sanders' remark about the fiscal note reflecting a multi-year appropriation. He saw that money was only listed in the FY 21 column. He asked for clarification. Ms. Sanders replied that the fiscal note was a reflection of the department's needs. The department identified the appropriation as a multi-year appropriation. She continued that the need is listed in the comment box and the analysis on the second page of the fiscal note. She explained that when the legislature reached the point of incorporating the fiscal note appropriations that were approved for bills into the appropriation bill, it would be up to the bill drafters and the Legislative Finance Division to ensure that there was a multi-year appropriation with an extended lapse date. The fiscal note did not allow for the costs to be broken out into a 2-year appropriation. Therefore, the department put it all in the appropriation requested so that it could get started on the work in FY 21. She furthered that with an extended lapse date it would allow the department 2 years to expend the money. Co-Chair Johnston asked if Ms. Sanders was familiar with HB 136. It had to due with public schools' social and emotional learning. Ms. Sanders was only familiar with the bill in name. She indicated Erin Harden might be able to better speak to the bill referenced by Representative Johnston. Co-Chair Johnston relayed that the fiscal note for HB 131 was only $6,000. Ms. Sanders explained that the $6,000 Representative Johnston was referring to in HB 136 had to do with the regulation work contracted out to the Department of Law by DEED. The fiscal note reflected a cost of $6,000 for regulation work related to HB 181. She continued that because there were no existing standards for mental health, additional work had to be completed to implement them. Co-Chair Johnston asked for confirmation that the $60,000 was to facilitate people convening together. Ms. Sanders responded in the affirmative. Co-Chair Johnson asked if the $12,000 appropriation was for printing costs and the distribution of information. Ms. Sanders replied, "Correct." 10:42:46 AM Representative Wool asked about the $12,000 for 500 schools and 54 school districts. He asked if the booklets were for administrators rather than students. He did not think the amount was very sizable to distribute booklets to many places. Ms. Sanders replied that the amount was for the purpose of distributing booklets to all of the 500 schools, 54 school district offices, and to any other additional stakeholders. Representative Wool asked if each school only received one booklet. Ms. Sanders responded, "Yes." Co-Chair Johnston requested that Representative Claman return to the testifier table. She asked if there were tools available in other states that would help eliminate Alaska's need for a broadband conversation. Representative Claman responded that Alaska was not unique. The health education curriculum of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did not contain information on mental health either. However, the CDC had some resources equal to a few pages about what they would recommend for guidelines for mental health. Interestingly, the health guidelines that Alaska currently had was on 2 pages. He was skeptical of a $6,000 fiscal note in the current age of the internet. He suspected mental health could be uploaded to the rest of the health curriculums online. He thought several resources were available. He also questioned the notion of having to bring 20 to 30 people to Anchorage twice, especially with the current budget challenges. He suggested the use of telephonic meetings. He opined that updating the information on mental health that was currently 2 pages could be done for much less. 10:46:19 AM Representative Josephson asked the sponsor about the potential for expanding the school year. He asked how the bill would affect on-the-ground activity. He requested that the representative paint a picture of how the bill would work. Representative Claman replied that the bill did not create a separate mental health class. He recalled growing up in high school that health was a one-semester class. If the class was a 10-week class containing everything but mental health, he thought the curriculum could fold into the 10-week period. He cited an example of an annual exam incorporating a question about a person's mental health. Representative Wool thought there was more time devoted to health classes. He indicated his kids were spending more time in the classroom on the topic of health. He suggested that the more curriculum that was expected to be taught, the longer the class hours or days in the school year. He wondered if any of the language prevented mental health from being part of the classroom curriculum. Representative Claman replied that presently there was nothing preventing school districts from including mental health in their curriculum. There was a number of school districts that already provided different levels of mental health education. He indicated the bill was about suicide prevention. He though it was a worthy investment in time. He understood the pressure of having to teach additional curriculum. He thought it was a priority and would need to be balanced with additional curriculum. 10:51:38 AM Vice-Chair Ortiz appreciated the bill being presented. He understood that the bill was not a mandate but was supposed to bring a heightened awareness to mental health. He wondered if it was still up to the district to fold in the curriculum. He wondered what it would look like in terms of process and implementation. Representative Claman expected the districts to have the conversation with the school board and the state. The Department of Education and Early Development would provide assistance to those school districts that wanted to add mental health to their curriculum. He thought parents with kids with mental health illnesses might push things along as well. 10:54:47 AM Representative Carpenter asked for the definition of mental health. He suggested that it was the quality of a person's thinking. He wondered if the curriculum would be testable or measurable. He thought the video was a demonstration of the need for healthy relationships with parents and other people that influenced children. He was concerned with the notion that the school would be responsible for implementing additional curriculum without additional support. He suggested the standards that would be required to be set would essentially guide children on what was appropriate to think. He suggested the bill was venturing into the realm of parenting. 10:58:20 AM Representative Sullivan-Leonard indicated that some of the school nurses she had talked with shared the sentiments of Representative Carpenter. She thought that many school nurses were the first to hear from students about feeling depressed or being bullied. She wondered who at each school would be encapsulating and disbursing the mental health information. She thought it would likely be school nurses. She asked if the bill would remove the term, "physical health" from the statute. Representative Claman responded that the way to incorporate mental health was to remove the word, physical. By doing so, it would allow the guidelines to include mental health. Representative Sullivan-Leonard wondered if the term should remain in the statute, as physical education was a key component to a child's health. She believed students getting outside and doing something physical was essential to having strong mental health. Representative Claman thought physical health was a part of the current statute. He continued that by removing the word, "physical" it did not remove physical health from curriculum. He read a portion of the bill. From his perspective, the language undoubtedly included physical health. 11:01:30 AM Representative LeBon had previously sat on the Fairbanks School Board for 6 year. He indicated that in a similar situation the school board would assign a topic to a curriculum committee made up of parents. There was a full vetting process that included family and parents. Representative Claman agreed that school nurses were some of the first people students approached. He had confidence in nurses' medical training and the consistency of their training. Co-Chair Johnston invited Ms. Sanders to comment on the remarks made regarding the fiscal note. Ms. Sanders replied that the department understood that mental health standards were missing from what was considered physical health standards and supported implementing them. Today mental health was a complex issue. The department believed it was in the best interest of the students and the school districts to ensure that experts were available to provide input in the development of the standards. She admitted that the department did not have the expertise within the department to develop them on their own which was reflected in the fiscal note. 11:04:30 AM Representative Carpenter was looking at the intent language of the bill. He read a portion containing a list of organizations. He suggested that unless the organizations involved parents and experts in the process of developing standards, there was nothing in the bill that pointed to parental involvement in determining the state's standards. Representative Josephson noted that parents participated by testifying before their local school boards. He argued that there would be opportunities for parent involvement. Representative Claman agreed that testifying before a school board provided the most consistent opportunity for parental involvement. He also noted that the members of the State Board of Education were established in statute and appointed by the governor. He thought board members were consistently parents. Representative Josephson questioned the role of the parents surrounding mental health issues because, in some instances, parents were a contributing factor to the problem. He was not aiming to be critical of parents. Representative Claman replied that parents were always an issue according to Dr. Freud. Co-Chair Johnston thought the topic was straying from the bill. Representative Josephson did not think the bill was designed to identify appropriate thoughts. Rather, the bill was about providing a broad understanding that if a person was feeling suicidal, a remedy was needed. He asked if he was correct. Representative Claman replied in the affirmative. Representative Josephson thought if the bill was going to work, the periods of instruction should provoke the need for other referrals. It would give a student the confidence to seek help which would create a positive downstream effect but would require other resources. 11:08:47 AM Representative Claman largely agreed. He elaborated that the funding received by Alaska's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had increased over time for psychiatric services due to an increase in awareness. He shared a personal story about a family member who had fought on three islands in the Pacific, survived, and never went to a psychologist. However, the way in which he interacted with his colleagues he served with in the Marines in WWI suggested that they all suffered from their own degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He thought as the conversation changed people would look for resources that they did not pursue in the past. Representative Carpenter thought the conversation was surreal. He had personally fought in two wars and had spoken to a psychologist. He stated that the Department of Defense had mandated annual suicide awareness training for many years. However, the United States had very high rates of suicide. He did not believe the training was lacking. He suggested that the problem was effective relationships. He suggested people turn to government to solve their problems. They looked to schools and other institutions to solve the problem which he identified as the failure. He argued that people should be looking to each other and effective relationships, not to government training solutions. His opinion was based on his own experience. Representative Wool referred to representative Josephson's comments that the bill might create additional referrals. He believed the curriculum might also help kids not to feel alone or abnormal. He noted that many kids did not have healthy homes. Even kids from good homes with well-balanced families had mental illness. Co-Chair Johnston commented that the committee had participated in a robust discussion. She would be setting the bill aside. HB 181 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. 11:13:15 AM AT EASE 11:23:36 AM RECONVENED Co-Chair Johnston indicated the committee would consider the governors appointee for commissioner of the Department of Revenue, Lucinda Mahoney. ^CONSIDERATION OF GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEE: LUCINDA MAHONEY, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE 11:23:56 AM LUCINDA MAHONEY, COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, thought she would review her resume' and pertinent experience. She asked the co-chair if that was acceptable. Co-Chair Johnston responded in the affirmative. Commissioner Designee Mahoney relayed that she attained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a finance concentration from the University of Texas. Later she attained a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She attended school while working full time. She described herself as intellectually curious and continued to pursue additional education. She was a certified valuation analyst for conducting business valuations for merger acquisitions. She also had an investment portfolio certificate from Wharton School of Business [University of Pennsylvania]. The certificate pertained to investments and investment allocations. She obtained investment training at the Callan Investment Institute. She also obtained formal training in real estate. Commissioner Designee Mahoney started her career in the oil industry in Alaska. She spent the majority of her time with ARCO Alaska where she was responsible for many different finance and accounting positions. Most Relevant, she worked on the North Slope at Kuparuk and Prudhoe Bay as a business manager. She was able to learn the operations of the field and understand the oil industry. She worked on net income forecasting and long-range planning. She worked on 30-year plans or plans for the life of a field. She left ARCO to begin a career at KPMG in the Advisory Services Department. She was responsible for the development of a consulting practice in Alaska and worked with many different entities including village corporations, native regional corporations, fisheries industries, and publicly-traded telecommunication companies. It opened her eyes to the various communities within Alaska. She worked in Barrow, Nome, Seward, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. Her time at KPMG provided her a great learning experience. Commissioner Designee Mahoney moved to a position with Arctic Slope Regional Corporation as the Executive Director of the shared services organization. She was responsible for much of the back-office operations in support of the business units with the goal of attaining process improvements and efficiencies. She left her position with the regional corporation to start her own management consulting company called, Value Solutions. She provided consulting services much in line with what she did at KPMG for similar types of clients. 11:27:56 AM Commissioner Mahoney reported that in 2009 she was contacted by Mayor Dan Sullivan to work as the Chief Financial Officer for the Municipality of Anchorage. It was her first job working in the public sector. All of her work prior was in the private sector. The work environment at the municipality was similar to working for the Department of revenue. She started working for the Municipality of Anchorage during the Great Recession and worked to help develop a fiscal plan after reserves had been depleted and revenues were down significantly. She and her team worked diligently to evaluate sources of revenues, combinations of revenues, potential reductions, and the possibility of refinancing debt. Her team came up with a plan identifying financial goals to create a culture of thrift and strict discipline. The plan was implemented and the Municipality of Anchorage ended up with surplus balances for several years of her tenure. She was the financial face of the organization meeting with the rating agencies, including Standard and Poor's and Fitch, about the municipality's financial condition. Over a period of years, it received small credit upgrades eventually reaching a AAA rating. The rating was a reflection of the collaboration of everyone working together. The entities involved included the political body, the administration, the operations managers, and the finance department. She resigned from the City of Anchorage in 2014 to spend more time with her mother who had taken ill. She continued to do consulting work through her company, Value Solutions. Commissioner Mahoney relayed that in January she was approached by the administration to serve as the commissioner for the Department of Revenue (DOR). She noted her concern that she might have a conflict of interest due to her husband's work as an attorney for the oil industry. She noted that the chief of staff for the governor implemented a proper ethics shield in conjunction with the Department of Law. The Deputy Commissioner, Mike Barnhill, would handle anything that would otherwise be a conflict. She intended to be involved in any process regarding changes to the oil tax structure. She was excited to do her best to help the state. She made herself available for questions. 11:33:36 AM Representative LeBon asked, given the economic activities such as the price of oil and the stock market, if the commissioner designee had an opinion on following the law and a full Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Commissioner Mahoney responded that it was the position of the administration that the state followed the statutory law associated with the PFD unless there was a change from the vote of the people. Representative Josephson asked about auditors having sufficient access to files - he read a portion of the audit prepared regarding the Department of Revenue and the settlement of oil and gas taxes. He asked if the commissioner would be more cooperative with the auditor than the previous commissioner. Commissioner Mahoney relayed that the incident occurred prior to her appointment. She relayed that in December  the Department of Revenue advised Legislative Audit in writing that it would provide the tax settlement files that reversed the position of the previous commissioner. Based on the advice of the Department of Law, DOR would not disclose the attorney/client communications. It placed the commissioner in a quandary because of the direction of the Department of Law. However, she planned to discuss the issue with Attorney General Clarkson as soon as she was confirmed. Representative Josephson asked if it was the commissioner designee's understanding that her predecessor had taken a position but, in December  the administration became more cooperative. Commissioner Mahoney responded, "Yes." The files were provided other than the files which the attorney/client privilege applied. Representative Josephson thought it was typical that other agencies of state government would not look at settlement papers because of the nature of the documents. However, he interpreted the auditor's comments indicating she could not see the documents relative to the reduction in tax credits owed. He asked if the commissioner was sensitive to her position. Commissioner Mahoney replied in the affirmative. She provided an example working for the Municipality of Anchorage. When she addressed entities on Wall Street, she had to address questions regarding the caffer. She valued the importance of numbers being accurate. In the particular case being addressed, she could not review the detail because of the ethics screen associated with any of the tax settlements. However, she would be able to work with the attorney general to better understand the Department of Law's position regarding disclosing the attorney/client communications. After she researched the issue, she could determine whether it was appropriate to release the information. She would want to work collaboratively with Attorney General Clarkson and potentially influence him about the importance of transparency in the caffer. 11:39:25 AM Representative Josephson inquired about the State Assessment Review Board. It was his understanding that Mr. Greeley was the state assessor and would be working for Commissioner Designee Mahoney. He had learned a significant amount about the State Assessment Review Board while serving as a member of the legislature. Between 2013 to 2015 there was constant media coverage about litigation regarding the state's property and equipment valuation. The wide disparity was about $10 billion. The industry reported assets of $5 billion rather than $10 billion. He wondered if Mr. Greeley would be given the latitude to do his job. Commissioner Mahoney responded that under the ethics screen she would not be overseeing those issues at all. However, her general expectation would be that Mr. Greeley would perform his functions independently and conduct his evaluations in compliance with state statutes. Vice-Chair Ortiz thanked Commissioner Designee Mahoney for being available. He wondered about her experience working for the City of Anchorage. One of the things she spoke proudly of was helping to implement a proper fiscal plan. He noted the state's untenable fiscal situation. He wondered if she saw herself playing an active role in helping the state resolve its fiscal plan. Commissioner Mahoney responded that she absolutely wanted to be involved and would be looking at all fiscally sustainable solutions. Vice-Chair Ortiz understood her role would require good communication. He asked her to comment on how she thought the state could resolve its fiscal situation. Commissioner Mahoney indicated her view was complicated. From a high- level perspective, she would look at all revenue sources for consideration. She would also evaluate expenditure downward pressures. She would look at what kind of government services the state wanted to continue to provide. Additionally, she would consider the state's debt and bonds. She noted the current low interest rates. She thought the state might have an opportunity to refund and refinance its bonds. Bringing interest rates down would provide more leverage for capital projects. The fiscal plan would include a combination of things. 11:45:28 AM Vice-Chair Ortiz noted her mentioning the need to put downward pressure on government expenditures. He asked her to speak about what the state was trying to do to support government services. He asked her whether she thought the state was providing too many services. Commissioner Mahoney indicated that it would be difficult for her to comment, as she would need to take a thorough look at each department first. She noted that any kind of reductions needed to be done with significant care and consideration. Representative Wool noted the presentation from the prior day's hearing. He wondered if the commissioner would support an unscheduled draw to pay for a full PFD. Commissioner Mahoney could not comment without further information. Representative Wool asked if she spent any time studying sovereign wealth funds. Commissioner Mahoney replied that she primarily studied the subject of portfolio investment analysis while attending Wharton School of Business. She received training in asset classes and fund allocations to minimize risk. Representative Wool clarified that she was responding in the negative about being trained on the topic of sovereign wealth funds. Commissioner Designee responded in the negative. Representative Wool noted Deputy Commissioner Barnhill presented a bill earlier in the week to backpay PFD amounts. The money would come out of the Earnings Reserve Account. He looked forward to her comments on the subject when she was ready. 11:49:50 AM Co-Chair Johnston OPENED Public Testimony. 11:50:01 AM Co-Chair Johnston CLOSED Public Testimony. Vice-Chair Ortiz indicated that the House Finance Committee had reviewed the qualifications of the governor's appointee and recommended the following name be forwarded to the joint session for consideration: Lucinda Mahoney, Commissioner, Department of Revenue Representative Ortiz continued that forwarding the name did not reflect by any of the members an intent to vote for or against this individual during any further sessions for the purpose of confirmations. Co-Chair Johnston reviewed the agenda for the afternoon and evening. The committee would be hearing public testimony for HB 300 and HB 306. She provided details regarding public testimony.