Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/02/2004 03:07 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 471-INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION Number 0050 CHAIR WILSON announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 471, "An Act relating to the funding of public education; and providing for an effective date." CHAIR WILSON announced for the record that Representative Wolf has joined the meeting. Number 0100 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO moved to adopt CSHB 471, version 23- LS1645\I, as the working document. There being no objection, version I is before the committee as the working document. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO summarized the CSHB 471 increases the base student allocation from $4,169 to $4,379 this year, and provides for a 2 percent annual increase beginning July 1, 2005. He told the members that as Chair of the House Special Committee on Education, he appointed three members to a subcommittee on education funding. The subcommittee took public testimony and asked each individual school district what its shortfall would be and what funding would be necessary to return the districts' funding levels to that of the previous year. The conclusion was that there needed to be a $210 increase [to the base student allocation] to keep the districts at the previous year's level of funding. Representative Gatto pointed out that this figure does not include the PERS/TRS shortfall. It was decided to address that issue in a separate bill, he commented. Number 0281 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked whether there would be public testimony before or after the presentation of amendments. He told the members that he plans to propose an amendment that removes the language which provides for a 2 percent increase in funding annually. CHAIR WILSON announced that the committee will hear public testimony before the amendments are presented. Number 0359 KRIS MOORE, Member, Valley Voices for Children (VVFC), and parent of four children in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, testified in support of HB 471. She said that basic needs are not being met and that the quality of education is suffering. She urged the committee to not only address the cuts from this year, but also repair the damage done to the education system in prior years. Number 0559 DEBRA GERMANO, School Board Member, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, testified in support of education funding. She told the members that she is disappointed to hear about a suggested amendment which would take funds away from education funding. Ms. Germano commented that while she appreciates the efforts of the committee, the only thing the proposed level of education funding does is provide for education to almost remain at the present level. She explained that last year the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District lost 56 teachers and 14 custodians. Ms. Germano shared that at a school board meeting she attended the previous night she heard about more people leaving the community because of the uncertainty in the direction of public education. She said she believes this is a big contributor in declining enrollment that is being experienced in school districts. Ms. Germano urged the members to do more than provide for a $210 increase and support a cost of living increase. Number 0718 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO commented that he understands the disappointment that education funding has decreased for several years. He pointed out that the retirement shortfall has been separated from the base student allocation. He said he agrees that $210 is not enough, but it does prevent further deterioration from the previous year. MS. GERMANO responded that she appreciates the efforts of the members. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District there are losses of programs, she said. For instance, the district does not have a foreign language program or a gifted program any more. Number 0859 REPRESENTATIVE WOLF agreed with Ms. Germano that the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has been dealing with this issue for a long time, and now the issue has spread to other parts of the state and is now being addressed. Number 0904 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON told Ms. Germano that he is concerned that the 2 percent increase in the base student allocation could be viewed as "the deal." Basically, this could mean the $86 increase in following years could be considered both the maximum and minimum amount of an escalator by the legislature. He said he believes that could present problems for the district. He asked if Ms. Germano has any comments on the 2 percent escalator. MS. GERMANO replied that the 2 percent increase is only a beginning, but at least it is something the districts can plan on when developing a budget. Number 0943 TIM STEELE, School Board Member, Anchorage School District, testified on HB 471. He told the members he appreciates the work done in funding education; however, there have been serious cuts in Anchorage including 332 jobs and cuts to programs and activities. He agreed with Debra Germano's comments that Kenai's school district has been hurting for a long time. Anchorage School District has also had cuts, but since it is a much larger district, it has been possible to absorb some of those cuts. MR. STEELE said now the district, like everyone else, is feeling the pain, and the pain is a result of a failure to fund cost of living allowances (COLA) for decades. Since 1999 the district has lost $253 in purchasing power, he explained. The $210 increase almost gets the district to where it was last year, which was almost to point the year before. There is a cumulative effect, he said. Mr. Steele told the members that districts need a significant increase to the funding formula this year to make progress toward adequacy. The 2 percent increase would be progress toward sustainability. Without it the districts will be much worse off in five years. MR. STEELE told the members that last night there was a school board meeting which focused on a six-year plan. There was overriding gloom that dominated the discussion that the goals could not be met. He stated that he wants to get back to focusing on educating kids and spend less time begging for money. Number 1166 JENNIE HAMMOND testified on HB 471. She told the members that the quality of education provided to students in Kenai is going down, and that failure is not based on the lack of professionalism of the teachers, but due to the lack of funding being received from the state. Ms. Hammond said she does not believe $4,600 per student is a small price to pay compared to what is being done to the children. CHAIR WILSON agreed with Ms. Hammond. She shared that she has had parents who were educated in the same school district their children are attending now, and who have come to her with concerns that there were better course offerings and better educational opportunities afforded to them many years ago. Chair Wilson stated that she believes that is a sad statement. Number 1249 MELODY DOUGLAS, Chief Financial Officer, Kenai Peninsula School District, testified in support of HB 471. She commended the members in taking the lead in providing increased education funding. She said that the increase of $210 in the base student allocation is significant and does not want to take away from that, but echoed the earlier comments by Kenai residents. MS. DOUGLAS told the members she opposes the proposed amendment that would remove the 2 percent incremental increase in funding. She said that while she understands why it might be removed, an incremental increase of 2 percent annually is an important place to start. Ms. Douglas told the members that Kenai is experiencing significant facilities increases, such as utilities costs. She urged the members to keep the 2 percent annual increases in education funding. Number 1363 AMY LUJAN, Business Manager, Nome Public School District, testified on HB 471. She stated that she is supportive of increases of the base student allocation so that the district can maintain parity with the current year. This would be especially true if PERS/TRS is addressed in a separate bill. Ms. Lujan explained that while this helps, it does not help with the programs that have been cut over the past two years. For example, there are fewer junior and senior course offerings, larger class sizes which is problematic at the elementary level, no school nurse, no social worker, and no assistant principal at the elementary level, fewer aides, growing deferred maintenance needs, and no professional development. Ms. Lujan said she appreciates the increase in the base student allocation and urged the members to maintain the 2 percent annual increase as a starting point. Number 1449 MARY FRANCIS, Ph.D., Executive Director, Council of School Administrators, testified on HB 471. She provided the following statement: The school administrators are strongly in support of an increased base student allocation. We prefer that the amount be sufficient to include the increased TRS/PERS costs, so that this ongoing cost of doing business doesn't have to be fought for each year. Provided, of course, that the districts have an eroding funding floor would be equally taken care of with the other districts. We also think including the TRS/PERS costs in the formula will then allow those communities with taxing powers to contribute more to schools, should they choose to do so. That said, it is our wish that the base student funding also be adequate to provide a comprehensive educational program for all kids. As a school administrator of over 20 years, I've watched the steady erosion of educational programs. Starting in 1986, when a 10% across the board reduction was imposed, school districts have reduced services to balance budgets year after year. Watching the schoolhouse crumble is not what I thought I'd spend my career doing! Recently I heard that a philanthropic organization is planning to provide funding for the arts in public schools. This is terrific news! But how sad is it that a critical component of educating the "whole child" is now dependent on someone's generosity? Isn't it the State's responsibility to provide a comprehensive educational program? Shall we next turn to the National Basketball League to fund extracurricular programs? Shall we turn to Microsoft to fund workplace preparation programs? Vocational programs, the arts and music, are some of the many programs falling by the wayside as school districts prepare budgets on inadequate funding. Alaska's students deserve a quality comprehensive educational program. Please help get us back on course by supporting a substantial increase to the base student allocation. Thank you for your time. Number 1559 REPRESENTATIVE WOLF asked why the state should not ask Microsoft to contribute. Alaska owns $240 million worth of stock in that company. Number 1591 MARY HAKALA, Coordinator, Alaska Kids Count, testified on HB 471. She told the members that Alaska Kids Count is a non- partisan group of parents, grandparents, educators, and community members who have joined together to advocate for schools and safeguard children's education. She told the members that about a month ago a few of us got together to start the initiative, and now there are over 400 in a statewide e-mail network. She pointed out that the growth reflects the level of concern out there. The group works along side Valley Voices for Children, other parent groups, and PTAs, she added. She asked the members to remember that each time a Representative hears from one of them, it often reflects the perspective of many people. It is tough for a parent to approach the legislature; it is not a common day experience for most people. MS. HAKALA explained that the group she represents are the volunteers in the school, the ones who set up bake sales, help with the valentine parties, and increasingly raise funds. For example, in Juneau it is the PTA that funds the art supplies, and field biology, which is a long way from what it use to do. She emphasized that this funding is for core subjects. Ms. Hakala reiterated that the current funding is adequate and the additional cuts are unacceptable. She said that this bill is a step forward in the right direction, but believes that much more is needed. MS. HAKALA commented that between the PERS/TRS solution and this bill would be about $78 million. She urged the members to invest $100 million in education. Number 1719 CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School Boards, testified on HB 471. He told the members that this past weekend he had the opportunity to revisit the Molly Hootch decision made 30 years ago which provided that people were allowed to educate their children at home, rather than sending them away to boarding schools. Much of the discussion that surrounded the gathering he attended focused on the kinds of education options available given the shortage of funding. He added that the people in attendance do not want to go back to the pre-Molly Hootch days. Mr. Rose explained that although the people support boarding schools as an option for many of the students, it was clear there was no support for mandated boarding schools. MR. ROSE told the members that in rural areas of Alaska there have been tremendous reductions in services across the state due to the lack of funding. He pointed out that six state senators represent the entire landmass of Alaska with the exception of the Railbelt, and 28 representatives represent the Railbelt proper, while the other 12 represent the rest of the state. Mr. Rose told the members there is a tremendous crisis with the lack of capacity to deal with the issues being presented. Number 1831 MR. ROSE explained that the decision for Molly Hootch and Bullock vs. Lind was largely due to what many people felt was a preponderance of evidence that suggested that the state was operating two systems of education that were not equal. He told the members that he believes that can be said about the state today. He urged the members to look at the state of rural education and how the state addresses the needs of those children. There is serious need for increased investments. He added that there is a serious need for water and sewer and other amenities that many of us take for granted. Mr. Rose stated that everyone is covered by the same constitution. That is just a backdrop to what is involved, he added. MR. ROSE told the members that for the last 17 years he has been involved in managing the decline of public education. Every year education has been provided with less money. Now that shortages in funding is being felt in the Railbelt, there is an awareness of the problem in the state. He urged the members to look at the entire system with a sense of conscience of what is being done for and to our kids. He summarized his comments by saying "if we do not model what we teach, then we are teaching something else." Mr. Rose suggested that if it is being said that educating our youth is our highest priority, then it is important to take every step to do that. Number 1907 MR. ROSE said the association supports this bill. He understands the hard work that was involved in producing the increase in funding, and urged the members to support the 2 percent annual increase as well. It is a good place to start, he commented. Mr. Rose told the members that everywhere that he goes he hears people say they are willing to pay for better education for their children. He said even though his children finished their education, he would be willing to pay a tax to educate children for the future of the state of Alaska. Number 1911 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO commented that the total base student allocation in the bill is $4,379 or close to $4,400. The 2 percent annual increase would mean an additional $88 more next year. Neither he nor Mr. Rose will be satisfied with $88 next year, he said. Representative Gatto said he understands that there could be some thought that next year someone could say that education funding has already been addressed with a 2 percent increase, and would question why there would be a request for more funds. Representative Gatto asked Mr. Rose to comment on this. MR. ROSE replied that he believes 2 percent is a starting point. Often there are supplementals that will add funds later as needs are identified. He suggested that since all the testimony has addressed the loss in buying power, there is no addressing that unless there is a step increase in funds. He reiterated that he is willing to start at 2 percent, but guaranteed the members that 2 percent will be inadequate this year, and it will be inadequate next year as well. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON pointed out that this bill states that there will be a 2 percent increase, not that an increase will start at 2 percent. He asked Mr. Rose if he is really in support of the language that says funding will be increased by 2 percent. MR. ROSE responded that he is supportive of that language because he has never known the legislative body to be limited by what a previous legislature had passed. The language giving 2 percent is better than nothing. He encouraged the members to work for progress. The door is not closed on this subject, he added. Number 2020 CATHERINE REARDON testified as a parent of a kindergartener and a four-year old. She asked for a significant increase in the base student allocation and an annual inflation factor to address the loss in purchasing power. She told the members that she believes strongly that it is important to put money in the education system that can allow it to help all the children of the state. She said her testimony represents many parents who find it difficult to testify. Most parents would be willing to pay taxes to fund education. She stated that she finds education more important than the permanent fund dividend. MS. REARDON told the members that the Juneau School District, like many other school districts, has been looking at ways to cut its budget. The Charter School where her daughter attends will be cut to the statutory minimum which really brings into question the existence of the school. This is an example of what is happening statewide, she said. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO commented that it would be nice to index education funding as the permanent fund is indexed. He asked if Ms. Reardon knows what it takes to inflation proof the permanent fund. MS. REARDON replied 3 to 3.5 percent. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if Ms. Reardon would be happy with only a 2 percent increase per year. MS. REARDON responded that she would guess that the inflation costs for some things in education, such as PERS/TRS, have a higher escalation in inflation. Inflation goes up and down. While it is low at this time, next year it could be higher. Ms. Reardon said she would be more comfortable with indexing than 2 percent, but appreciates what has been done. CHAIR WILSON announced that public testimony is now closed. Number 2233 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL moved to adopt Amendment 1, [original punctuation provided] which read as follows: Page 1, Line 6: Delete: "However, the department shall, on July 1 of each year, beginning July 1, 2005 increase the base student allocation by two percent" Number 2241 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO objected. Number 2245 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL told the members that there are two sides to the question of a 2 percent annual increase to education funding. Is this a sufficient amount, he asked. He said he believes the answer is "no", so the starting point should always be the formula. This is a very complex formula. When discussing adequate funding it is clear that the issue must be addressed and funded by the legislature every year, Representative Coghill added. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said that he believes there are other important issues that must be addressed as well. For example, he told the members he believes public safety rises to the same level of importance as education, and there are no escalating clauses in legislation for funding that. Representative Coghill acknowledged that he has a bill that requests more funding for education and is working to find more funds. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL agreed that Mr. Rose makes a good point that it is an interesting time where there is declining income and increased expenses. He told the members that there is a bigger debate going on and that is to use some of the permanent fund to fund state government. He told the members that he would not support indexing education funding and is not even a big fan of inflation proofing the permanent fund even though it is statutorily required. The growth factor is market driven and an income that is revenue driven from royalty oil and lease sales. He added that he would rather see the [funds for inflation proofing] be placed in education funding. If indexing were included for education funding, it could then be included in every budget because each one is important. Representative Coghill summarized that since he has been in the legislature, the education funding issue has risen to the top every year. This amount is not enough for education funding, he stated, and is surprised that there is not an amendment to increase the funding. The question is where can the money be found. TAPE 04-16, SIDE B Number 2364 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL explained that this is just one more layer the House Finance Committee must go over to determine what is adequate educational funding. He told the members if it is believed that the amount for the base student allocation should be higher, then raise the amount. He stated no one is fooled that the 2 percent annual increase will do anything. Number 2351 CHAIR WILSON announced for the record that Representative Cissna joined the meeting some time ago. CHAIR WILSON commented that she has been in the legislature for four years and has been fighting for increased education funding all that time. The schools in her district have been experiencing serious shortfalls in funding long before the larger schools districts felt the pain, she said. Chair Wilson told the members that she agrees with what has been said about the 2 percent increase being only a start. The schools have been expected to provide everything that is requested of them even though there has been a steady erosion in funding. She stated that she believes the inclusion of a 2 percent increase may be viewed by some as a conclusive solution to the funding shortage. Number 2291 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said that every year about this time the school districts try to issue contracts and right now the schools do not know how much money will be funded for education. The districts expect that it will be less than what was received last year. He said he hopes this 2 percent increase will provide the districts with the assurance that it will not be necessary to issue so many pink slips. This kind of assurance for the previous year's allocation, plus a 2 percent increase, may make it easier for the districts' to issue teaching contracts, plan on insurance and utility increases, and plan for maintenance costs. Representative Gatto told the members that he hopes the percentage will be 4 percent, but at least it will be 2 percent under Alaska statute rather than nothing. He agreed with Mr. Rose's statement that over the last seven years all that has been done is to "manage the decline." The $210 increase is only arresting the decline and is not repairing the damage. He summarized his comments by saying that the 2 percent annual increase provides the districts with some hope that there will not be further decline. Number 2207 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON told the members that he is concerned about the 2 percent increase language in the bill for two reasons. The first is that it may be a magnet for drawing negative votes for the bill because there are a number of people who are opposed to inflation proofing any budgets. So this language would provide a good excuse for some members not to support the bill, he said. The second concern is that the language says "by 2 percent." He told the member that if this amendment fails, he will be offering an amendment that would say "by at least 2 percent" so that the mind set is changed that the increase will be 2 percent. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he would like to get some clarification from the administration on the effect of this language on the base student allocation. The committee has been told that fully funding education means meeting the base student allocation. Representative Seaton questioned whether this change would mean that fully funding education means meeting the base student allocation last year or the previous year, plus 2 percent. Number 2140 EDDIE JEANS, Finance Manager, School Finance and Facilities Section, Department of Education and Early Development, testified on HB 471 and answered questions from the members. He responded that the department's interpretation of the 2 percent provision would be to build that 2 percent into the budget which would be submitted to the legislature in December. That would be the full funding amount, he said. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said he believes that if steps and columns didn't change, there were no raises, no insurance increases, and no PERS/TRS shortfall then education funding could probably manage with the 2 percent annual increase. He asked if Mr. Jeans would agree with that statement. Number 2110 MR. JEANS replied that he could not answer that questions. He added that he did look at the Anchorage Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the last five years, and over that period the CPI has averaged about 2 percent. Mr. Jeans commented that 2 percent seems like a reasonable number at this point. CHAIR WILSON said she is sure that for some schools that 2 percent would not be enough. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained to the members that based on Mr. Jeans' response to questions, he will not be offering the amendment he mentioned earlier because the 2 percent can be built into the formula. He said that if he changed the language to "at least 2 percent" he does not believe it would be possible for the department to build it into the formula. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL questioned how this will affect the hiring practices that Representative Gatto mentioned. He said that he was under the assumption that hiring decisions were based on student count. The committee has discussed forward funding of education and there has always been a snag because the student count needed to be taken into consideration, he recalled. CHAIR WILSON said that it has always been very difficult for schools to know how many teachers to hire because of the uncertainty of funding. Tenured teachers must be notified by March 15 if there is a possibility of a layoff. She explained that for many of the schools where funding has been severely cut all that remains are tenured teachers. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said that he does not believe that the 2 percent annual increase would make a difference in determining how many teachers may be retained. Number 2000 CHAIR WILSON clarified that the schools also must determine if there will be the same number of students. If there are fewer students, the schools will receive less money. She commented that when the schools do not have enough money to provide good educational opportunities, people move away. MR. JEANS commented that the members know the budgeting process is a difficult one. He explained that school districts base there budgets on the base student dollar amount in statute. The districts assume that is what will be received. He said most districts will not budget based on a higher dollar amount because that is the element that is unknown. If there is a 2 percent increase automatically built into the foundation program the school districts will budget for it, expect it, and pressure will be put on the legislature to fund it, Mr. Jeans said. He added that the foundation program has been fully funded since 1987. There was a huge decline in oil revenue that year and the state took a 10 percent cut across the board including the foundation program. He clarified that was after the budgets were approved and appropriated by the legislature. Number 1961 MR. JEANS told the members that the 2 percent annual increase would help the school districts determine how many pink slips need to be issued. For example, if a school district knew today that it could count on $4,010 then pink slips would need to be issued because it could not assume there would be more funding. If there is a 2 percent increase, then it is likely that fewer pink slips would be issued, he said. REPRESENTATIVE WOLF said he agrees with Representative Gatto's statement. He explained that he had the opportunity to work with the superintendent of schools while decisions were being made about the issuance of pink slips. Representative Wolf commented that the 2 percent increase could make a big difference in some people's lives. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL commented that he does not disagree with Representative Wolf's statement. He said, however, that if the base student allocation were set at an adequate level then school districts could plan appropriately. Representative Coghill pointed out that there could be an argument that if an annual percentage increase is placed in statute for the foundation formula, then there are other areas of the budget where annual budgeting processes also impact people's jobs. He commented that if this is something the legislature really wants to do, then perhaps there should be a 2 percent escalator on the budget bill as a whole. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL stated that he believes the better way to approach the problem is to look at the formula to see what the real number is and if it really works. Every two years there is an election process where the people of Alaska tell us what they want. He commented that he rides the breaks on education funding even though he has a bill which asks for more funding. Representative Coghill commented that he will likely get slapped around for that. In summary, he said that if the funding is not accurate it is because the people who elect legislators do not reflect that increased funding is necessary. Number 1800 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO commented that as the chair of the House Special Committee on Education if he could be king for a day and come up with a number that meets the needs for education, there would be no need for a 2 percent escalator. He stated that there was a great deal of time and effort from committee members this year to come up with an additional $210, exclusive of the PERS/TRS shortfall which is addressed in a separate bill. Representative Gatto explained that the committee came up with the right number which does nothing more than stop the decline. It is for this reason that he is opposing the amendment, he said. A roll call vote was taken. Representative Coghill voted in favor of Amendment 1. Representatives Wilson, Wolf, Seaton, Cissna, and Gatto voted against it. Therefore, Amendment 1 failed to be adopted by a vote of 1-5. REPRESENTATIVES SEATON proposed that a memorandum be drawn up to accompany the bill which would say that the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee recognizes the need to identify sources of available funds to cover the increase in education funding. It would go on to say that the committee has identified the remaining authorized CBR draw for 2004 and the Alaska Permanent Fund earnings as sources that can be used for the education funding increase. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL objected for purposes of discussion and clarification. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON read the following text which he suggests be included in a memorandum which would accompany HB 471: The House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee recognizes the need to identify sources of available funds for this increase in education funding. We identify the remaining authorized CBR draw for 2004 and the permanent fund earnings reserve as sources that can be used for this educational funding increase. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON added that the language is conceptual and would not object to the language being slightly modified. CHAIR WILSON commented that this language was developed in the House Special Committee on Education, but did not come with the bill in error. Number 1657 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO explained that the letter should accompany the bill when it goes to the House Finance Committee so that the members there are not faced with a bill that has a $42.3 million fiscal note without identifying some available funding sources. He clarified that the letter was written by the House Special Committee on Education to accompany the bill, but not be a part of the bill. CHAIR WILSON asked what the committee wishes with respect to the letter to accompany the bill. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said that he maintains his objection because it narrows down the sources of funding from last year's CBR draw. He said he is open to a suggestion. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified that the only reason this letter specifies the CBR draw and the permanent fund earnings is due to the fact that these are the only funds currently available to this legislature that can be appropriated. He said that future tax sources require another bill to pass which may or may not pass. He said that he believes it is important for the committee to say that this education funding is important enough to us that sources have been identified to fund this bill. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL suggested that the language including the CBR draw for 2004 be removed and just have the permanent fund earnings reserve in the letter. He commented that House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee is not going to be advising the House Finance Committee of any new revenue sources. He commented that if the committee really wants to be daring why not insert an income tax as a source of revenue. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that the reason he is suggesting this letter and the language in it is due to the fact that the committee was told that if it put forth a bill that included increased funding, the House Finance Committee would like those sources of funding to be identified. This letter would reflect the members' commitment to education funding, he added. Number 1490 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL commented that while he is the majority leader, nine times out of ten he is in the minority. He told the members he maintains his objection. Representative Coghill said he believes the committee chair's statement before the House Finance Committee would be adequate, unless the committee wants to promote a head tax or income tax. A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Wilson, Seaton, Cissna, and Gatto voted in favor of including the letter of intent with HB 471. Representatives Coghill and Wolf voted against it. Therefore, the letter of intent was included with HB 471 by a vote of 4-2. Number 1399 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO moved to report CSHB 471(EDU), 23-LS1645\I, out of committee with individual recommendations, the accompanying fiscal notes, and an accompanying letter of intent. There being no objection, CSHB 471(EDU) was reported out of House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.