Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/05/2003 09:02 AM Senate FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 75 "An Act making supplemental and other appropriations; amending appropriations; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 76 "An Act making supplemental and other appropriations; amending appropriations; making appropriations to capitalize funds; and providing for an effective date." This was the fifth hearing for these bills in the Senate Finance Committee. Co-chair Green announced that the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs would continue their presentation begun, but not concluded, at the March 3, 2003 meeting. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs SB 76 Section 11(a) and (b) Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner's Office Structure change to move Commissioner's Office and Unallocated Reduction components to National Guard BRU JOHN CRAMER, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs stated that this request would restructure the Department to provide the Commissioner with "the latitude to work within the Department to the extent" deemed necessary. CRAIG CAMPBELL, Commissioner, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General, Alaska National Guard stated that previous to his term as commissioner, the Commissioner's Office operated within the National Guard Budget Review Unit (BRU); however, he continued, the Legislature made the decision to remove the Office of the Commissioner from the National Guard BRU and establish a separate "and small" Commissioner's Office BRU. He stated that re-establishing the Office of the Commissioner within the National Guard BRU would provide the Commissioner with "more latitude to manage the funds being entrusted" to him, specifically to better coordinate Homeland Security measures and "better manage the funding over the course of a year." Senator Hoffman asked the importance of approving this request in the supplemental request process rather than through a FY 04 budget request. Commissioner Campbell reiterated that approval of this request would provide the opportunity to better manage current funding allocations, specifically the funding necessary to sufficiently develop and implement Homeland Security measures. Senator Hoffman asked whether this request would transfer additional Department funds to Homeland Security in FY 03. Commissioner Campbell responded that approval of the request would allow the Commissioner to utilize National Guard funds to develop an overall operational plan to coordinate the National Guard's existing Homeland Security responsibilities. Co-chair Green asked whether the Department would continue this restructuring alignment in FY 04. Commissioner Campbell concurred that the FY 04 budget is being developed in this manner. SB 76 Section 11(c) Military Youth Academy Technical correction for Ch 130 SLA2002 (SB 345) fiscal note - correct fund source amounts. Co-Chair Green stated that this request regards a technical fund source correction. AT EASE 9:22 AM / 9:23 AM Mr. Campbell noted that the backup material provides further information regarding this request. Co-Chair Green understood that this request is to correct an inaccuracy that occurred during a conference committee meeting. Mr. Campbell concurred and stated that the request would not require additional funds. Section 16(8) Miscellaneous Claims and Stale-dated Warrants $580.88 $0.6 general funds Mr. Cramer stated that this request entails two stale-dated items totaling $580.88. Department of Community and Economic Development SB 76 Section 2(a) Admin Services Retroactive section to ratify the transfer of $51,000 from the disaster relief fund back to the commercial fishing revolving loan fund in response to recommendation 20 in the FY01 Statewide Single Audit prepared by Legislative Audit. TOM LAWSON, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Department of Community and Economic Development informed the Committee that a 2001 Statewide fiscal audit [copy not provided] conducted by the Division of Legislative Audit recommended that the Department submit this request to authorization the return of the unspent portion of monies to the Commercial Fish Fund from whence it originated. Co-Chair Green asked whether this request would be more appropriate as a ratification. Mr. Lawson voiced support for addressing the request as a ratification rather than as a supplemental request. Co-Chair Green announced that this request would be reclassified as a ratification in the upcoming committee substitute. SB 76 Section 2(b) Capital Section to change RPL 08-3-0104 for Rural Internet Access from operating to capital Mr. Lawson informed that this request would formalize the transfer of a $7.5 million grant appropriation from the operating budget to the capital budget to activate a Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) program authorized in FY 03. Co-Chair Green clarified that this is a fund transfer. Senator Taylor asked for further information about the RCA program. Mr. Lawson replied that this program would provide for grants and partnerships between internet carriers and public entities to provide high speed Internet service to rural areas of the State. Senator Hoffman asked the projected timeframe of the program. Mr. Lawson responded that the program is proceeding slower than anticipated; however, he stated, the federal grant application process would be finalized this spring. Co-Chair Green asked what occurs once the federal grant is finalized. Mr. Lawson explained that once the State/federal grant application is finalized, the next step would be to distribute the grant applications to eligible entities. He estimated that the applications would be distributed in the spring; however, he asserted that the program would not be completed by June 30, 2003. Co-Chair Green stated therefore that the program funding would continue into FY 04. Mr. Lawson concurred. SB 76 Section 2(C) Insurance Authority to receive and expend fees paid by licensees for background checks. The Division of Insurance will then enter into a contract (RSA) with Department of Public Safety who performs the background checks. $200.0 Receipt Supported Services Mr. Lawson stated that this request results from a change in the methodology of collecting fees for insurance industry applications and background checks. He stated that the Department of Public Safety requested this change because of the increase in background checks being conducted as a result of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. He explained that, previously, insurance applicants were required to submit two payments for services: one to the Department of Public Safety for the background check and one to the Department of Community and Economic Development for the license; this change, he continued allows applicants to remit a single payment for the entire fee to the Department of Community and Economic Development. Therefore, he concluded, the Department of Community and Economic Development must receive authorization to transfer the $200,000 collected for the Department of Public Safety's background checks. Co-Chair Green announced that there would be a "correcting entry" in the final committee substitute that would reduce the Department of Public Safety budget by $100,000 to reflect the portion of the fee the Department must pay to a third party for administering background checks. Senator Olson voiced concern that, as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and "other obstacles" presented to the insurance industry, insurance companies might be deterred from providing insurance coverage in Alaska. He asked whether the Department has heard any such indications from the industry. Mr. Lawson clarified that this request is not generated by an increase in insurance fees, but rather reflects a change in the fee process. Co-Chair Green commented that were there any opposition to this change, it has not been "publicly" voiced. She informed that State regulations specify that anyone seeking to sell insurance in Alaska must submit to a background check. Senator Taylor asked for confirmation that every insurance agent in the State is required to undergo a background check. Co-Chair Green confirmed and stated that background checks have been a requirement for many years. Senator Taylor asserted that, while he accepts that attorneys are required to undergo background checks, he is "incredulous" that this requirement applies to the insurance industry. Senator Bunde voiced that writing one check, rather than two, is "slightly more user friendly" for the industry. SB 76 Section 2(d) International Trade Authority to receive and expend registration receipts from the Korea USA economic conference. The 2002 conference was held in Korea; 2003 will be in Anchorage. Subsequent years' conferences will be held in other western states. $115.0 Statutory Designated Program Receipts Mr. Lawson asked that this request be withdrawn from consideration because the 2003 conference has been postponed. SB 76 Section 2(e) and (f) Alaska Science and Technology Foundation Income is insufficient to fund appropriation due to stock market declines. Fund source switch from income to endowment and a reduction of $6,418.6 in the appropriation, leaving authorization of $4.1m. ($6,418.6) Sci/Tech Endowment Mr. Lawson informed the Committee that the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF) endowment revenues have declined due to financial market conditions. He stated that, as a result, this request seeks to reduce the authorization funding level and change the funding source. He continued that this is an interim step as the program is currently under review. Senator Taylor verified that existing program obligations and operating expenses amount to $4.1 million. Mr. Lawson concurred. Senator Taylor concluded that authorization of this request would allow the program to operate through June 30, 2003. Mr. Lawson agreed. SB 76 Ratifications Section 17(a)(1)(A) AR 56381-02 (Delta Junction Economic Recovery) $562.95 general funds SB 76 Ratifications Section 17(a)(1)(B) AR 56385-02 (Rural Utility Mgt.) $0.83 general funds Mr. Lawson stated that this request involves federal grant program expenses originating in 1987. Department of Education and Early Development SB 76 Section 5(a) Schools for the Handicapped Out of State Placement educational cost increase due to increased number of clients and increased length of stay. $366.8 general funds EDDY JEANS, Manager, School Finance and Facilities Section, Division of Education Support Services, Department of Education and Early Development informed the Committee that this request is generated by the additional cost of placing handicapped children in out-of-State educational programs. Co-Chair Green asked whether the program includes psychiatric and disability treatment. Mr. Jeans replied that these two categories are included in the program. Mr. Jeans stated that the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS) administers this program that provides treatment for children who are wards of the State. He explained that because the State does not have the ability to teach these students, they are provided treatment in out-of-State facilities. He continued that the increased cost results from an increase in the number of students in the program and an increase in the total number of days at the facility. Co-Chair Green asked whether these children qualify for Medicaid coverage. Mr. Jeans replied that, while Medicaid would provide for medical expenses, these expenses result from educational needs. Co-Chair Green asked whether the Department could identify the reason for the increase in the number of youth being served in the program. Mr. Jeans stated that the reason is unknown. Co-Chair Green suggested that the ability of private physicians to enroll youth in the program through the auspice of the Denali KidCare program might be a cause. She stated that this issue would be addressed. She asked for verification that the increase in the program is the result of an increase in the number of students and their length of stay in the program. Mr. Jeans concurred. SB 76 Section 5(b) Foundation General fund reduction due to preliminary actuals for foundation program that reconciles initial October student count to the electronic data. ($6,728.8) general funds Mr. Jeans stated that this surplus of funds in the School Foundation Formula Fund account is the result of a lower than expected final count of students in the public school system. Co-Chair Green asked whether these funds would lapse at the end of the fiscal year if they remained in the supplemental budget. Mr. Jeans stated they would. SB 76 Section 15(b) and (c) Debt Reduce debt retirement fund appropriation for school debt reimbursement by amount of FY2002 cigarette tax carry forward and increased tax collections. ($2,593.9) Debt RF Increase School Fund appropriation for school debt reimbursement by amount of FY2002 cigarette tax carry forward and increased collections. $2,593.9 School Fund School construction reimbursement estimate has decreased from 56,378.4 to 52,536.0, a reduction of 3,842.4 needed to capitalize the debt retirement fund. That amount plus the 2,593.9 debt retirement fund reduction above is the amount the debt retirement fund is overcapitalized in FY03. ($10,278.7) Total Funds ($6,436.3) general funds ($3,842.4) Debt RF Mr. Jeans stated that this request reflects a reduction in the debt retirement fund as the result of a funding allocation overage as well as the receipt of cigarette tax revenue allocated to the Department in excess of projections. Co-Chair Green clarified that these items offset each other. Mr. Jeans clarified that the first entry reflects the overall reduction in the debt retirement program and that the second entry specifies the reduction in general funds needed to support the debt retirement fund as the result of the transfer of excess cigarette tax revenue received by the Department. AT EASE 9:45 AM / 9:46 AM SB 76 Section 16(3) Admin Services Miscellaneous Claims and Stale-dated Warrants $5,107.28 $5.1 general funds Mr. Jeans stated that this request is the result of a late copier billing. Senator Hoffman asked whether the action specified in Section 15 (b) and (c) would increase the funding required in FY 04. Mr. Jeans stated that this request would not impact FY 04 needs as it adjusts the FY 03 authorizations based on current year entitlements. Senator Taylor asked the total savings amount resulting from the reduction of debt reimbursement expenses and the lowered school student enrollment figures. Mr. Jeans responded that the actual reduction in the debt reimbursement program is $3.8 million, and that a fund source change of "up to another $5 million" further reduces the amount of general funds required for the debt reimbursement program. He continued that there is a savings of $6.7 million in the school foundation funding program allocation. Senator Taylor specified, therefore, that the general fund could receive a credit of approximately $12 million. Mr. Jeans agreed. Co-chair Green restated that the FY 04 budget for the debt reimbursement program would be independent from this request. Mr. Jeans verified that the Department's FY 04 debt reimbursement program budget is viewed "as separate transaction." He continued that this request applies to the FY 03 budget appropriation and the FY 03 Department resources. Department of Natural Resources SB 76 Section 12(a) Recorder's Office Increased costs to process heavy volume of mortgage refinance activity and increased postage and supplies costs. $149.1 Receipt Supported Services NICO BUS, Administrative Services Manager, Division of Support Services, Department of Natural Resources stated that this request would provide for increased workload and operating costs in the Recorder's Office due to an increase in mortgage refinancing cases. He stated that, historically, the average number of mortgages recorded each year is 400,000; however, he noted, the number this year has exceeded 1,000,000. He referred to a handout titled "Recorder's Office increase in Document Size (Image Count)" [copy on file] that depicts the increase. He stated that the Department hired non-permanent staff to address the backlog. SB 76 Section 12(b) Parks Management Increased fees for City of Kodiak park maintenance contract $4.0 Statutory Designated Program Receipts Mr. Bus informed that this request would address the increased cost of maintaining a State Park. SB 76 Section 12(c) Capital National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant pass thru to Juneau for purchase of wetlands near Herbert River. $553.0 federal funds Mr. Bus stated that these funds are a pass-through federal Department of the Interior grant to the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) to purchase a parcel of land. SFC 03 # 15, Side B 09:53 AM Mr. Bus stated that the Department oversees the transaction, and he noted that the CBJ Mayor urges the Committee to support this request. Co-Chair Green asked why the Division of Legislative Budget and Audit (LB&A) initially disapproved this request. Mr. Bus noted that the initial LB&A response requested the CBJ to approve an ordinance endorsing this land transaction. He noted that the ordinance would be finalized at an upcoming CBJ Assembly meeting. Mr. Bus responded to a question posed by Senator Bunde by specifying that this one-time pass through grant transaction would not result in any administration revenue to the Department. SB 76 Ratifications Section 17(b) and (c) Fire Suppression FY2002 Fire Suppression costs AR37313-02 Fire General Fund and AR37311-02 Fire Federal Receipts $13,340,900.00 general funds $ 3,000,000.00 federal funds Mr. Bus stated that this ratification request provides for May and June 2002 fire suppression expenses. Department of Environmental Conservation SB 75 NEW Section Air Quality Feb 26 Amd: Legal services for Red Dog Mines air permit dispute $100.0 general funds MARY SIROKY, Legislative Liaison, Department of Environmental Conservation explained that in 1998 the Department issued air quality permits for an existing and a new diesel generator at the Red Dog Mine. She informed that these permits were subsequently objected to and blocked by the federal Environmental Agency (EPA). She furthered that this request results from legal proceedings whereby the Department challenged that EPA determination. She stated that a favorable ruling is expected in the near future. Co-Chair Green clarified, therefore, that this request is for legal fees. Senator B. Stevens asked whether the Department would be entitled to legal fee reimbursement if the State prevailed. Ms. Siroky responded that the State would not be entitled to legal fees. Senator Bunde asked how much money the State might receive if it wins the lawsuit. Ms. Siroky responded that rather than receive monetary compensation, the State would be granted the authority to issue the permits. SB 76 Misc. claims Section 16(4) Admin Services Miscellaneous Claims and Stale-dated Warrants $568.03 $0.6 general funds Ms. Siroky stated that this is a miscellaneous claim request. AT EASE: 10:03 AM / 10:03 AM Co-Chair Green stated that this concludes the department presentations for the supplemental bills. Co-chair Green ordered the bills HELD in Committee.