Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/20/2001 03:03 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 37-STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced  that the committee would  hear testimony on                                                              
HOUSE BILL  NO. 37,"An  Act relating  to reimbursement  of certain                                                              
student loans; and  providing for an effective  date." [Before the                                                              
committee was  CSHB 37(EDU).  In  the packets, but not  adopted as                                                              
a work draft, was version 22-LS0287\J, Ford, 2/16/01.]                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0195                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS,  speaking   as  the  sponsor  of  HB  37,                                                              
stated:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Public  education is  truly  at the  crossroads.   We're                                                                   
     demanding more  of our students, such as the  exit exam,                                                                   
     and  we're trying  to raise  student achievement,  while                                                                   
     at the same  time we are facing an all-time  shortage of                                                                   
     teachers,  especially in  rural  Alaska.   As you  know,                                                                   
     the  Alaska Student  Loan Forgiveness  Program ended  in                                                                   
     1980 and has  succeeded in encouraging many  students to                                                                   
     return  to  Alaska  as  teachers.   Today  there  is  no                                                                   
     incentive  in  the  Alaska  Student  Loan  Program  that                                                                   
     would   encourage   Alaskans   to  return   home   after                                                                   
     finishing  their  education  and  becoming  certificated                                                                   
     teachers.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS continued, stating:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     As you also  know, other states are doing  their best to                                                                   
     attract  and retain  teachers.   They are  using a  wide                                                                   
     variety of  incentives such as higher  salaries, signing                                                                   
     bonuses,  a down payment  on homes, mortgage  subsidies,                                                                   
     as  well as  student  loan forgiveness.    You may  have                                                                   
     heard,   Broadner's   Alaska   Legislative   Digest   of                                                                 
     February 2,  2001, it included a couple of  very telling                                                                   
     charts.    The  first  one was  the  percent  change  in                                                                   
     average  teacher salary from  1989 to  1999.  It  showed                                                                   
     that  in  current  dollars  the U.S.  average  was  37.3                                                                   
     percent,  while  in  Alaska  it was  12.2  percent.    A                                                                   
     second  chart  showed  the  percent  change  in  average                                                                   
     teacher salary  from 1989 to  1999 in constant  dollars,                                                                   
     and this chart  showed the U.S. average at  2.8 percent,                                                                   
     while  in Alaska  it  was minus  16  percent.   Clearly,                                                                   
     we're headed in the wrong direction.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0359                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS stated  that this  indicates that  Alaskan                                                              
teacher salaries  are becoming  less and  less competitive  in the                                                              
face of a national teacher shortage.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  remarked that  in  this  past year  there                                                              
were  unfilled  positions  across   the  state  in  math,  special                                                              
education, and speech  pathology.  For the 1999/2000  school year,                                                              
1,335 new  teachers were  hired in  Alaska.  On  the first  day of                                                              
school, 84 teaching  positions were still unfilled;  some remained                                                              
unfilled  for  several months.    Districts  were forced  to  hire                                                              
unqualified teachers  on emergency certificates and  teachers with                                                              
minimal  qualifications.   He  said  this  bill would  forgive  10                                                              
percent a  year, up  to a total  of 50  percent, for Alaskans  who                                                              
return to teach  in Alaska.  Forgiveness will only  be given if an                                                              
Alaskan  student has  returned home  and taught  for a  year.   He                                                              
clarified  that  this is  a  credit on  the  student  loan, not  a                                                              
reimbursement.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0489                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked  if there is any incentive for  someone who gets                                                              
a  commercial loan  or  uses  his or  her  own funds,  instead  of                                                              
getting a state loan.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS replied  that someone  could only  receive                                                              
forgiveness  through the state  loan program,  not through  a bank                                                              
loan.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0665                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked what the present forgiveness rate is.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  replied  that  there  is  no  forgiveness                                                              
rate.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0740                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DIANE   BARRANS,  Executive   Director,  Postsecondary   Education                                                              
Commission, Department  of Education and Early  Development (EED),                                                              
came forth  and stated that  there is not,  in the  Alaska Student                                                              
Loan Program  (ASLP), a  forgiveness benefit  under the  contracts                                                              
that  are  currently  being  issued.    There  are  some  existing                                                              
benefits from the  pre-1988 loans that are still paid  out as they                                                              
are  claimed.    The only  programs  that  have  some  forgiveness                                                              
benefits are  those such  as the  Alaska Teacher Scholarship  Loan                                                              
Program, which  requires that  the student  have graduated  from a                                                              
high school  in Alaska and have  been nominated by a  rural school                                                              
district  in Alaska; the  student would  then have  to teach  in a                                                              
rural or Bush  school to receive the benefits  under that program,                                                              
which are 100 percent forgiveness of debt.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0821                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  asked  how  the contract  [under  HB  37]                                                              
would prove the [teacher's] employment time.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  stated that the  person would have  had to                                                              
teach one year in  an Alaskan school district to  be able to apply                                                              
for forgiveness.   It takes a period  of six years for  the person                                                              
to be forgiven the whole 50 percent.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS  replied  that  teachers  who  want  to  receive  the                                                              
benefit are  required to  file and  claim that  benefit.   The EED                                                              
could verify a person's employment as a teacher in Alaska.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0908                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  asked,  if  this bill  passes,  whether  a                                                              
teacher teaching this year would qualify [for the forgiveness].                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  stated that he  does not believe so.   The                                                              
person would  have to start teaching  the next school  year, since                                                              
it takes effect July 1, 2001.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS remarked  that the  in  latest version  of the  bill,                                                              
page 2, line  11, states:  "This  Act applies to loans  entered on                                                              
or after  July 1, 2001".   She said that unless  current borrowers                                                              
continue to  borrow in the next  loan year, they would  not have a                                                              
loan that qualified for a benefit.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1020                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked:   If a person  has one more  year of                                                              
school, applies  for a loan for  that last year, and  then teaches                                                              
for a  year, could  he or she,  two years from  now, get  the last                                                              
year of school [loan] forgiven?                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. BARRANS  answered that the last  year's loan would  be subject                                                              
to up to 50  percent forgiveness if the person taught  for a total                                                              
of five years.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON   asked  when  the   loan  recipient   starts  making                                                              
payments.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. BARRENS, replied  that the repayment period  begins six months                                                              
after the  separation from  school.  In  response to a  comment by                                                              
Representative  Dyson, she  explained  that  because the  borrower                                                              
would only  receive up to 50  percent forgiveness, he or  she will                                                              
still have  to repay the  other 50 percent  balance on his  or her                                                              
loan.   Therefore,  the  individual should  get  the full  benefit                                                              
available if he or she teaches for all five years.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked how 50  percent was  decided upon as  the right                                                              
percentage of forgiveness.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1160                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  explained  that  he had  hoped  that  the                                                              
legislature would  be willing  to pay the  bill of 50  percent and                                                              
didn't think they would be willing to pay 100 percent.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON stated  that there is a crisis in  getting and keeping                                                              
special education  teachers  in Alaska.   He asked  if that  was a                                                              
problem  in  Representative  Stevens'  area [Kodiak]  and  if  the                                                              
crisis with  special education  is disproportionate  to the  other                                                              
education categories mentioned [math and speech pathology].                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS   responded  that  there   are  particular                                                              
problems throughout  the state in special education  and math.  He                                                              
stated that  this occurs in  his district  as well as  every other                                                              
area in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1241                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   asked   what   the   possibilities   of                                                              
refinancing  the  loans  were for  instance,  if  someone  started                                                              
teaching but  wanted to combine  the first  two years of  the loan                                                              
with the last two years.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRENS  stated   that  the  commission  has   the  statutory                                                              
authority  to  offer  consolidated  loans;  however,  it  has  not                                                              
developed a  product to do this.   The financial  implications and                                                              
the implications  on the  legislative willingness  to finance  any                                                              
forgiveness  benefits  that  could  accrue to  someone  through  a                                                              
refinanced loan would have to be considered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL noted  that this  is up  to a GF  (general                                                              
fund) number  that's decided by  the finance committee at  the end                                                              
of the day.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS   stated  that   there  would   be  a  general   fund                                                              
appropriation  to finance  this program.   The  limitations as  to                                                              
how far  it will go  and how  many people it  will affect  will be                                                              
based on that fiscal  note.  If the program were  put into statute                                                              
and did  not receive  subsequent appropriations,  it would  become                                                              
an unfunded  mandate, but not one  that the corporation  would put                                                              
itself in a position of being liable for.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1359                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  if  this forgiveness  would  include                                                              
school  librarians.   She  stated  that  one of  her  constituents                                                              
wrote her:   "Today's school  librarians are certified  elementary                                                              
or   secondary    school   teachers    with   endorsements    from                                                              
approximately  30  additional  credits  in the  field  of  school.                                                              
Each day librarians  instruct students and often  they're teachers                                                              
on the use of reference materials."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  stated  that  this  would  apply  to  any                                                              
certificated teacher, which includes librarians.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
BETH  NORDLUND, Special  Assistance, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                              
Department  of Education  and  Early  Development,  came forth  to                                                              
discuss HB 37.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked Ms. Nordlund to  give an idea of  the magnitude                                                              
of shortages in specific education categories.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1475                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORDLUND  said that she could  testify only about  the overall                                                              
teacher shortage.   She stated  that the Alaska Teacher  Placement                                                              
Center  has a  report  coming out  this month  that  would give  a                                                              
better update on the areas of shortage around the state.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON  asked  if  she  could   speak  generally  about  the                                                              
problem.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORDLUND answered  that she has heard that  science is another                                                              
area of  shortage.   She added that  she couldn't give  additional                                                              
categories because  it's dependant  on the area.   She  said there                                                              
are serious regional  shortages, and that some of  the urban areas                                                              
are suffering  in the area of  special education.  She  added that                                                              
there  are some  regions of  Alaska that  are having  difficulties                                                              
hiring teachers all together.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON  asked if  the  Alaska  Teacher Scholarship  Loan  is                                                              
aimed at addressing the rural student.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NORDLUND  replied  that  it addresses  the  supply  of  rural                                                              
teachers for the rural areas.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1564                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  commented  that the  student  scholarship                                                              
program [Alaska  Teacher Scholarship  Loan] is wonderful  and does                                                              
zero in on  rural districts, but  it requires a student  to decide                                                              
at the age of 17 to become a teacher.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked what would  happen in  the "out years"  if this                                                              
[ASLP]  is successful  and  there is  a glut  of  teachers and  no                                                              
demonstrable public need in the state.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  stated that there is a cycle,  but it [the                                                              
shortage] does  seem to  be particular bad  right now,  across the                                                              
nation.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1700                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORDLUND  referred to  the "Resolution of  the State  Board of                                                              
Education  & Early Development  on Teacher  Loan Forgiveness"  [in                                                              
packet].  She read:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Quality  teachers  and  administrators   are  a  crucial                                                                   
     component  for raising student  achievement;  Alaska  is                                                                   
     experiencing  a  statewide   shortage  of  teachers  and                                                                   
     administrators;  teacher and  administrator turnover  is                                                                   
     at best disruptive  and at worst disabling  to education                                                                   
     reform,  an especially  acute problem  in rural  Alaska;                                                                   
     states  all across America  are going  to great  lengths                                                                   
     to  attract  and  retain  teachers  and  administrators,                                                                   
     offering a  wide variety of incentives;  and demographic                                                                   
     trends   make  it  unlikely   that  Alaska   educational                                                                   
     institutions  will  be able  to  produce more  than  one                                                                   
     third of the teachers our schools need each year.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NORDLUND   noted  that   Alaska's  educational   institutions                                                              
currently supply  Alaska's public schools with only  30 percent of                                                              
the teachers that are needed.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1735                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NORDLUND  read  from  the  "Public  School  Funding  Formula,                                                              
Educational Adequacy' [in packet]:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Many   states  and   outside   school  districts   offer                                                                   
     incentives  [such] as:  signing  bonus, down  payment on                                                                   
     a home,  mortgage subsidy,  and student loan  prepayment                                                                   
     programs.    Due to  limited  resources,  Alaska  school                                                                   
     districts  continue to struggle  to be competitive  with                                                                   
     other   states  and   outside   school  districts   when                                                                   
     recruiting teachers.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NORDLUND stated  that  as part  of  the Educational  Adequacy                                                              
Funding Formula there  is a list of teacher incentives  offered in                                                              
other states.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1795                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORDLUND concluded  that the next report that  the legislature                                                              
will receive  from  the EED is  the Education  Funding Task  Force                                                              
report.   There is  a concept  in the  report called Teacher  Loan                                                              
Assumption,  which is  a  hiring tool  whereby  a school  district                                                              
offers  to take over  a teacher's  loan from  any accredited  loan                                                              
[institution] in  the nation.  For  a teacher in Alaska  the state                                                              
would  take over  that loan  payment  of up  to $2,000  a year  or                                                              
$10,000  in  total.   This  is  different  from  loan  forgiveness                                                              
because it  costs more and is an  incentive for people  to come to                                                              
Alaska to  be teachers.   She added that  more than 70  percent of                                                              
teachers in the state are from [out-of-state] institutions.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1930                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON referred  to  a pie  chart  from  the Alaska  Teacher                                                              
Placement  Organization and  asked  if there  are 1,100  full-time                                                              
school vacancies in Alaska.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DOUG LETCH, Staff  to Representative Gary Stevens,  came forth and                                                              
stated that  the information on  the pie chart was  collected from                                                              
Melissa Hill,  Director of  the Alaska  Teacher Placement  program                                                              
at the University  of Alaska Fairbanks.   He stated that  the last                                                              
total,  from early  January, showed  136.5  vacancies that  hadn't                                                              
been filled.   The pie chart is  referring to the total  amount of                                                              
teacher positions that are out there.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1983                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS, in  response to  remark made  by a  staff                                                              
member, stated  that anyone who  is a certificated teacher  and is                                                              
working in  a school  district in  a certificated position,  which                                                              
includes librarians, would be able to apply for forgiveness.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2042                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SEAN REILLY came  forth to testify in  support of HB 37.   He said                                                              
that  he went back  to school  to pursue  a teaching  degree.   He                                                              
stated:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     A lot of times  when a good bill comes aboard,  a lot of                                                                   
     people want  to hop  aboard with it.   For example,  you                                                                   
     say,  "Well,  gee, what  about  some other  fields,  and                                                                   
     what  about  people who  have  gone  to school  and  are                                                                   
     presently  in  school.   "Why  can't  they  jump  aboard                                                                   
     also?"   Well, as you all  know you have to  be fiscally                                                                   
     responsible  and I think  the Representative wrote  this                                                                   
     bill [to  be] fiscally responsible.   Therefore, instead                                                                   
     of putting too  many people on the raft  and sinking it,                                                                   
     if we  just keep  hold of the  people that address  this                                                                   
     bill, we'll  do well.   Also, I  don't think that  there                                                                   
     is a  friction between whether  you address  those needs                                                                   
     by forgiveness  of loans, as  opposed to loan  incentive                                                                   
     programs,  bringing  people in  from  the other  states.                                                                   
     In  other  words,  I  think   that  there  are  so  many                                                                   
     teaching positions  that are  needed in this  state that                                                                   
     not  only  do  we  need  the  teacher  scholarship  loan                                                                   
     program,  not  only  do we  need  the  loan  forgiveness                                                                   
     clause, but we also do need those incentive programs.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2154                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LOIS  PETERSON,  School  Library   Media  Coordinator,  Libraries,                                                              
Archives   &   Museums,   Department  of   Education   and   Early                                                              
Development, testified  via teleconference that  school librarians                                                              
play the  roll of teacher  every day.   She stated that  there are                                                              
more  positions  than there  are  qualified school  librarians  to                                                              
fill  those positions,  so any  encouragement for  teachers to  go                                                              
back to  school to  become librarians should  be addressed  in the                                                              
bill.   She stated that school  librarians are certified  teachers                                                              
and have  additional training in  order to qualify  as librarians.                                                              
In  their contracts  they are  listed  as school  librarian or  as                                                              
"district librarian".   Unless the  note is made that  they should                                                              
be  considered  as   teachers,  they  may  be   overlooked.    She                                                              
expressed that she  hoped the language would include  teachers and                                                              
school librarians who are teacher certificated.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  stated  that  there is  no  intention  to                                                              
exclude  school  librarians,  and  that  he has  no  objection  to                                                              
amending this.   He asked  Ms. Peterson  if there are  other areas                                                              
that have been omitted.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. PETERSON  said that perhaps  it should say:   "school district                                                              
employee hired under a teacher contract".                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  stated   that  he  is  concerned  because                                                              
sometimes  people   who  are  not   certificated  are   hired  for                                                              
positions that are intended for certificated teachers.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked if line  8 on 22-LS028\C  of the bill  could be                                                              
changed to:  "hired as a certified teacher".                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PETERSON  replied  that  it  would be  clearer  if  it  said:                                                              
"someone hired under a certified teacher contract".                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  stated that he would have  no problem with                                                              
that,  as long  as it  covers counselors  and  principals who  are                                                              
also certificated and have been hired in those positions.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-16, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2396                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VERNON   MARSHALL,   Executive    Director,   National   Education                                                              
Association-Alaska   (NEA-Alaska),  came   forth  to   testify  in                                                              
support  of  HB 37.    He  said  that counselors  should  also  be                                                              
included, particularly  with all the work that is  being done with                                                              
standards and testing.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked if  librarians would  not be qualified  because                                                              
of language in the bill.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MARSHALL  stated that  that  was  a  concern raised  by  NEA-                                                              
Alaska.   He said  that he  thinks it  would be  clarified if  the                                                              
bill  stated:    "employed  as  a teacher  or  a  librarian  or  a                                                              
counselor".                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   STEVENS  asked   if  that   would  also   include                                                              
principals.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MARSHALL  answered  that  principals   may  have  a  teaching                                                              
certificate;   therefore,   the   bill  perhaps   should   include                                                              
administrators, such as principals.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON noted  that this  could  be offered  as a  conceptual                                                              
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  stated that a section of  the bill includes                                                              
the   meaning  of   "teacher"   and  asked   if   that  could   be                                                              
incorporated.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS asked Representative  Wilson to  read that                                                              
section.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  read  from version  22-LS0287\J,  page  2,                                                              
subsection (c):                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     In  this  section,  "teacher"  means a  person  who  for                                                                   
     compensation instructs  students in a public  or private                                                                   
     elementary  or  secondary  school and  who  possesses  a                                                                   
     valid  teacher certificate;  "teacher"  also includes  a                                                                   
     person  employed as  a public or  private elementary  or                                                                   
     secondary school librarian.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2279                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MARSHALL referred  to the  applicability section  on page  2,                                                              
line  11, [CSHB  37 (EDU)].   He  stated that,  assuming that  the                                                              
student  is in a  four-year program  and achieves  a degree,  that                                                              
individual  is going to  be out  of school in  2005.   The student                                                              
will  then   teach  five  years   and  achieve  50   percent  loan                                                              
forgiveness  in 2010.   Therefore,  NEA-Alaska  recommends that  a                                                              
person who  applies for a  loan on or after  July 2001, or  who is                                                              
enrolled in an  undergraduate or graduate program  entered into on                                                              
or  after  July 1,  1997  qualify,  for  the Alaska  Student  Loan                                                              
Program.  He stated  that the reason for 1997 is  that if a person                                                              
is in  education now, he  or she could  have enrolled  in academic                                                              
year 1997/98.   He added  that if the  individual knew that  he or                                                              
she was  eligible for  loan forgiveness  in 2001/2002,  this might                                                              
immediately enhance the teaching pool.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  what  the impact  would  be if  the                                                              
[ASLP] did  go back and capture  [those enrolled on or  after July                                                              
1, 1997].                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2148                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS replied  that the  GF impact  would be  considerable.                                                              
She  stated that  Representative  Stevens had  requested that  the                                                              
EED look  at a  slight retrospective  application of the  benefits                                                              
to the  individuals  who graduated  on or after  January of  2000.                                                              
In FY  (fiscal year)  '02, the  estimated impact  would be  a $1.4                                                              
million  GF appropriation,  in '03  it would  be $1.6 million,  in                                                              
'04 it would  be $1.9 million, and  by '07 it would  be $3 million                                                              
a year.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked  how many education majors are  currently in the                                                              
University of Alaska system.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BARRANS  answered that because  the forgiveness  doesn't limit                                                              
the  benefits to  people  in the  University  of  Alaska, the  EED                                                              
looked at the  entire database of education majors  and those that                                                              
graduated with education  majors.  As a result,  the estimates are                                                              
based on  the current number  of educators  who had loans  and are                                                              
teaching in Alaska.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON asked  if  the  EED's fiscal  note  is  based on  the                                                              
assumption  that a  person who  is  teaching, and  who has  loans,                                                              
would apply and stay teaching.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS  stated  that  he  was  correct.    It  is  based  on                                                              
individuals who are  borrowers, have a certain level  of debt, and                                                              
are teaching in Alaska.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2033                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS  noted   that  if  the  bill  clarifies   that  other                                                              
professionals who  are not actually teaching but  are certificated                                                              
were  to be  included,  there would  be an  effect  on the  fiscal                                                              
note.   She informed  the committee  that the  current version  of                                                              
the bill states that someone must be employed as a teacher.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON  asked if  the  fiscal  note includes  librarians  or                                                              
counselors.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. BARRANS replied that it does not.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1993                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   STEVENS   stated   that   the   governor's   Loan                                                              
Assumption  Program that  will be  presented to  the committee  is                                                              
not exclusive of  this bill.  It may very well  assist many of the                                                              
same  people, he  said,  but he  thinks  the cost  will  be a  lot                                                              
higher.   He  remarked  that a  third of  the  teachers each  year                                                              
apparently  come from  the University  of Alaska  and that  people                                                              
have  a tendency  to stay  where they  were educated.   He  stated                                                              
that this  bill would be  a very effective  way to bring  back the                                                              
Alaskans  who have  gone outside  of  the state  to receive  their                                                              
education.   He concluded by saying  he believes that  once people                                                              
have taught in Alaska  for five years, there's a  good chance that                                                              
they will teach their entire careers here.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON passed  the gavel to  Vice-Chair  Wilson, and  made a                                                              
motion to  CS for HB 37,  version 22LS0287\J, Ford,  2/16/01, with                                                              
an  amendment on  page 2,  line  20, adding  "or counselor"  after                                                              
secondary school librarian.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL objected for the sake of discussion.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON stated  that he  would  also add  on page  2, line  6                                                              
after  the  phrase  "if  the  borrower   is  a  special  education                                                              
teacher",  the phrase "or  teaches in  a rural  school".   He then                                                              
asked  if "rural"  is  a term  that means  anything  in the  state                                                              
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NORDLUND  answered  that  it   means  REAA  (Rural  Education                                                              
Attendance Area).                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON responded, "or is employed in an REAA school."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  stated that there is a  problem with that.                                                              
For example,  in his  district there are  urban schools  and rural                                                              
schools; the latter  are considered small village  schools and not                                                              
part of REAA.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  stated that her school  district, Wrangell,                                                              
is considered the same way.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1758                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BARRANS  remarked that  there  is  actually a  definition  of                                                              
rural, used in  the Alaska Teacher Scholarship  Loan Program, that                                                              
describes  a community's  size  and its  relationship  on road  or                                                              
rail to Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  remarked that  the conceptual  amendment would  raise                                                              
the incentive  level  of the loan  forgiveness  to 75 percent  for                                                              
special education  teachers and  those teaching in  rural schools,                                                              
as per Ms. Barrans'  definition.  And it would  include librarians                                                              
and counselors.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1634                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL stated that  he thinks  this will  cause a                                                              
significant rise  in the fiscal  cost beyond what can  be handled.                                                              
He expressed  that  there is a  teacher shortage,  so this  should                                                              
aim at the teachers.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS   remarked  that  he  respects   what  the                                                              
amendment  says,  but  fears that  once  additional  elements  are                                                              
added the  bill will  become less  and less  likely to  see itself                                                              
through the  legislative process.   In response to  Representative                                                              
Coghill, he  stated that  he has amended  his thinking  and thinks                                                              
the bill  should aim at  teachers, and be  as simple and  as clean                                                              
as  possible.    He  confirmed that  he  would  vote  against  the                                                              
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1333                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.   Representatives Kohring  and Dyson                                                              
voted  in favor  of  the  committee substitute.    Representatives                                                              
Cissna,   Wilson,   Coghill   and  Stevens   voted   against   it.                                                              
[Representative Joule  was absent.]  Therefore, the  motion failed                                                              
by a vote of 2 to 4.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS   stated  that  the   committee's  current                                                              
version,   22-LS028\C   [CSHB  37(EDU)],   includes   50   percent                                                              
forgiveness,  and  does not  include  75 percent  forgiveness  for                                                              
special education teachers or include librarians and counselors.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1228                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL made a  motion to  move CSHB 37(EDU)  from                                                              
committee  with   individual  recommendations  and   the  attached                                                              
fiscal note.   There being no  objection, CSHB 37(EDU)  moved from                                                              
the  House   Health,  Education   and  Social  Services   Standing                                                              
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                

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