Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/16/1996 08:07 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 546 - G.O. BONDS: SCHOOLS & UNIV.                                        
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HB 546.                                                         
 Number 0255                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES explained HB 546 was scheduled today as a continuation            
 of the subcommittee to share with everyone the changes.  The                  
 subcommittee was addressing the equitability amongst the                      
 distribution of the money.  There was also discussion surrounding             
 general obligation bonds for locally owned school districts.  It              
 was discovered it had been done a number of times in Alaska before.           
 The bonding capacity needed to be determined, however.  It was                
 indicated it could be $100 million per year.  Therefore, this would           
 need to be stretched out longer than five years.  A handout titled,           
 "FY 97 School District Capital Funding Allocations by Legislative             
 District," was distributed to the committee members.  She explained           
 the total allocation per school district was calculated by                    
 multiplying the educational units generated by each district by               
 Number 0380                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if the thrust of HB 546 was to try to             
 balance the programs between the rural and urban areas.                       
 Number 0389                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "that's correct."  That was what the                     
 subcommittee was attempting to do.                                            
 Number 0417                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER wondered why Mat-Su and Anchorage were                  
 combined in the same district.  He was referring to the handout               
 titled, "FY 97 School District Capital Funding Allocations by                 
 Legislative District."                                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said Mat-Su had been asking that question for             
 years now.                                                                    
 Number 0429                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said it was possible to physically separate them on               
 paper.  It did not change the numbers, however.                               
 Number 0439                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied Mat-Su would not want any of its                
 money distributed to Anchorage and vice versa.                                
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated a line could be drawn between the two on               
 paper.  It did not affect the numbers, however.                               
 Number 0480                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said she was concerned about Fairbanks and Denali                 
 because they were combined in the same district as well.  The money           
 allocated for Denali was not enough money for what was needed.  The           
 bill did not meet the needs of her district.  Therefore, she was              
 not that interested in the bill.  That was going to be the typical            
 response of many.  She did not know how her district would get the            
 money to fix the Tri-Valley School.  There were not enough people             
 in the district to pay for a new school.  That was the typical                
 problem for the rural areas.                                                  
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Kenny           
 Lake, Julie Knutson.                                                          
 CHAIR JAMES announced to Ms. Knutson that the amount allocated to             
 her district in concern was $5,311,923 with a local match of                  
 Number 0646                                                                   
 JULIE KNUTSON asked if that was for just Kenny Lake, or Kenny Lake            
 and Glennallen?                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied that was for the Copper River regional                    
 education attendance area (REAA).                                             
 MS. KNUTSON said Kenny Lake was in the same position as Anderson.             
 She asked if the bill would benefit Anderson because of the 30                
 percent distribution match?                                                   
 Number 0688                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "no."  There was only a 2 percent distribution           
 match for Copper River.  She explained she was referring to the               
 Denali area previously, not to the Anderson area.                             
 Number 0731                                                                   
 MS. KNUTSON said she was afraid Glennallen would end up with                  
 everything.  Kenny Lake was not happy with the wording of the bill.           
 She said Kenny Lake needed a new school desperately.  The current             
 building was falling apart and was becoming dangerous for the                 
 Number 0749                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES replied the only way to divide the approximately $6               
 million around the state was through an application process to                
 determine the priorities.  That process had presented problems in             
 the past, however.  Some districts did not apply and there was                
 concern surrounding the Department of Education's (DOE) evaluation            
 Number 0798                                                                   
 MS. KNUTSON replied the Kenny Lake area wanted the legislature to             
 know how badly it needed a new school.                                        
 CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Knutson to define the school needs of Kenny             
 Number 0820                                                                   
 MS. KNUTSON replied there were unhoused student, leaky faucets, an            
 old furnace system, icing problems, and an old electrical system,             
 to name a few.  She cited a volunteer was electrocuted due to the             
 electrical problems.                                                          
 CHAIR JAMES thanked Ms. Knutson for her testimony today.                      
 Number 0860                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES announced she did not want to take any action today on            
 HB 546.  Her intention today was to inform the committee members              
 the status of the subcommittee and to take any public testimony.              
 CHAIR JAMES further explained the original bill considered the                
 priority list of the Department of Education.  She suggested                  
 returning to that list.                                                       
 Number 1130                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said the problem with the list from the was           
 that Anchorage was short changed.  She understood it was a matter             
 of shifting dollars which meant that some districts would get less            
 Number 1156                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said the list from DOE reflected those districts that             
 had applied.  It was obvious that Anchorage did not apply for                 
 whatever reasons.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said Anchorage did not meet the established             
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated Mat-Su was robbed according to the list            
 produced by DOE.                                                              
 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Ogan if Mat-Su applied?                      
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied, "he did not know for sure."  He                  
 assumed it did.                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied if a school district was not included on the              
 list, it had not applied.                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated if Mat-Su had known this was going to be           
 a bond issue, it would have applied.  If the state was going to               
 fund the schools then he agreed with the proposed approach.                   
 CHAIR JAMES suggested giving the school districts a period of time            
 for the application process.  It would behoove the legislature to             
 establish the priorities as opposed to the distribution.                      
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said that was a laudable goal, but it had               
 never happened before.  A distribution would not meet anybody's               
 needs entirely.  That fact needed to be accepted.  Once that was              
 accepted, it could then be said the money was distributed                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON suggested considering the districts that              
 had already presented a proposal at the top of the list, while all            
 new applications would be prioritized.  The subcommittee needed to            
 research further why some districts did not send a request.                   
 CHAIR JAMES suggested re-opening an application period.  She did              
 not like the idea of putting the already existing proposals at the            
 top of a list.                                                                

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