Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/13/2004 06:06 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 375(FIN) am                                                                                          
     "An Act making appropriations for the operating and loan                                                                   
     program expenses of state government, for certain programs,                                                                
     and to capitalize funds; and providing for an effective date."                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     And                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 377(FIN)                                                                                             
     "An Act making appropriations for the operating and capital                                                                
     expenses of the state's integrated comprehensive mental health                                                             
     program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
NORMA   AYAGALRIA,   Tundra   Women's   Coalition,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from Bethel  requesting additional  funding  for the                                                            
Tundra Women's Coalition (TWC) program.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
WINIFRED   KELLY,   Tundra   Women's   Coalition,    testified   via                                                            
teleconference from Bethel  to thank the Department of Public Safety                                                            
budget subcommittee  for restoring some of the funds  removed by the                                                            
House  of  Representatives  for  the  victims'  services  fund.  She                                                            
requested an additional $600,000 for this program.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BRYAN TIMBERS,  Retired Attorney, testified via teleconference  from                                                            
Nome to request  restoration of $125,000 grant for  the Alaska Legal                                                            
Services  Corporation.  He  spoke  of the  difficulties  that  could                                                            
befall those unable to  pay for defense counsel in civil matters. He                                                            
noted that  indigent defendants are  not provided legal services  in                                                            
civil matters.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BEN  ESCH testified  via  teleconference  from  Nome in  support  of                                                            
funding for  the Alaska Legal Services  Corporation, as it  provides                                                            
services for those unable  to afford legal counsel. He remarked that                                                            
the request  is not for  increased funding,  but rather to  maintain                                                            
the same level of funds.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LOTTIE JONES  testified via  teleconference  from Kotzebue  that she                                                            
has  worked for  the  Alaska  Legal Services  Corporation  for  many                                                            
years.  She  stated  that  the  closure  of  many  offices  of  this                                                            
Corporation  require  many  residents  to  request  assistance  from                                                            
Anchorage.  She expressed that indigent  people charged in  criminal                                                            
matters have the right  to receive counsel from the Public Defenders                                                            
Agency and  the Office of  Public Advocacy;  however if involved  in                                                            
civil matters,  they rely on the Alaska Legal Services  Corporation.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHERYL   EDENSHAW,   Alaska   Technical    Center,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from Kotzebue in favor of funding  for the technical                                                            
center. She told  of the employment opportunities  in the region and                                                            
the need for a  trained workforce to fill those positions.  She also                                                            
spoke to the high  unemployment rate. She stated that  to meet labor                                                            
market demands, the community  must have education available for its                                                            
workforce.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE EDELMAN testified  via teleconference from Bethel, about the                                                            
low cost of birth  control medication compared to  that of unplanned                                                            
pregnancy and  parenthood. She also  spoke to the risks of  sexually                                                            
transmitted  diseases  and the  need  for more  reproductive  health                                                            
services.  She  stated that  currently,  a  teenager must  wait  two                                                            
months  for  services   to  become  available.  She  requested   the                                                            
Committee fully fund public health nursing programs for FY 05.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ZACK   FANSLER,    Tundra   Women's    Coalition,   testified    via                                                            
teleconference  from  Bethel,  to  thank the  Department  of  Public                                                            
Safety  subcommittee   for  restoration   of  partial  funding   for                                                            
services; however  he requested the remaining $600,000.  He detailed                                                            
the  transportation   and  other  services  provided   by  the  TWC,                                                            
stressing  the  program  offers  the primary  means  of  safety  for                                                            
victims of domestic violence for the entire region.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DARLENE MILLIGROCK, single  parent with five children, testified via                                                            
teleconference from Nome  about the assistance she received from the                                                            
Alaska Legal Services  Corporation while going through  her divorce,                                                            
and again in  handling a custody "battle".  She requested  the local                                                            
office remain open.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
GIA  HANNA, Deputy  Director,  Kotzebue  Indian  Reorganization  Act                                                            
(IRA),  testified   via  teleconference  from  Kotzebue   about  the                                                            
continuing  need to fund  the Alaska Legal  Services Corporation  in                                                            
the region. She  relayed that the Alaska Legal Services  Corporation                                                            
has alleviated  the demand for services on the Native  corporations.                                                            
She stated  that the local office  has allowed residents  to receive                                                            
services locally rather than from Nome or Fairbanks.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
AGGIE LEE testified  via teleconference from Kotzebue  in support of                                                            
the Alaska  Legal Services Corporation.  She appreciated  that staff                                                            
travels to villages to  provide legal assistance to rural residents.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  MEYER,  emergency  department  nurse, and  sexual  assault                                                            
nurse examiner with the  sexual assault response team, testified via                                                            
teleconference from Bethel  to request full funding for the victims'                                                            
services programs.  She stated that she spends a significant  amount                                                            
of time  working with  victims  of domestic  violence. She  reported                                                            
that the  team has been  seeing more patients  in the current  year,                                                            
and therefore the loss  of funds would greatly affect their efforts.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SHARI   NETH,   20-year   resident    of  Bethel,    testified   via                                                            
teleconference from Bethel  about her concerns of funding reductions                                                            
to the  public health nursing  program. She  stated that the  region                                                            
has  the  highest  rates of  sexually  transmitted  disease  in  the                                                            
nation. She  outlined services she  and her foster children  receive                                                            
from the program,  as well as friends who also depend  on this care.                                                            
She warned  that costs would be higher  if needs were not  addressed                                                            
presently.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM   UPDEGROVE,   Bethel  Aids   Task  Force,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from Bethel, to reiterated the importance  of public                                                            
health nursing  care. He doubted that telemedicine  could provide an                                                            
adequate  level  of service  to treat  and  prevent  AIDS and  other                                                            
health problems.  He also warned that the costs would  significantly                                                            
increase in the future,  outweighing any savings garnered this year.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LORETTA   KIUNYA,   Tanana   Women's   Coalition,    testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from Bethel, to request that funding  not be reduced                                                            
for public health nursing.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ELFRIDA  NORD,  Former  Chief,  Section  of  Nursing,  retired,  and                                                            
representing the Alaska  Nursing Association, testified in Juneau as                                                            
follows.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     AT a  minimum I urge  you to add back  the $770,000 for  Public                                                            
     Health  Nursing that  the House Finance  Committee approved.  A                                                            
     look  at history will  tell you that  transitioning of  clients                                                            
     has been  occurring and PHN basically serve those  that are not                                                            
     going to  transition for number of reasons, largely,  age, lack                                                            
     of  funds and  confidentiality.  Public Health  Nurses  provide                                                            
     very different services  than the private sector and the Health                                                            
     Corporations.  Public Health  services are not synonymous  with                                                            
     individual  medical services.  It is the  client, in this  case                                                            
      many of the villagers who will not get needed services.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     PHNs  have long  advocated that  their clients  have a  medical                                                            
     home  and  are  complementary,  not  in  competition  with  the                                                            
     private sector or Health Corporations.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The  loss of Public  Health Nurse aides  may result in  loss of                                                            
     programs  like infant car seat  program and decreased  outreach                                                            
     to Medicaid  eligible children,  as well as forcing  the highly                                                            
     skilled PHN to do  a lot of tasks that someone with less skills                                                            
     could  do.  Generalist  PHN  positions  were  saved  from  cuts                                                            
     because  they  can  provide  reduced   public  health  services                                                            
     whereas the aides  cannot provide the services that protect the                                                            
     public's  health  such as  communicable disease  control.  This                                                            
     restructuring   plan  is  not  being  done   because  it  is  a                                                            
     reasonable  thing to do,  it is an appearance  of creating  the                                                            
     least  amount of disruption  of services  to the public.  It is                                                            
     being  driven by potential  loss of  resources, not  reasonable                                                            
     planning.  This doesn't make  sense from a vital program  point                                                            
     of view keeping in  mind that there is a Constitutional mandate                                                            
     under  Article  VII for  the  state  to provide  public  health                                                            
     services.  Two years ago the Legislature was  convinced through                                                            
     the  "Back to  Basics"  increment  that the  nursing  component                                                            
     needed  more resources  and  provided  about half  of what  was                                                            
     requested. Now the  proposal is to cut 4 times what was clearly                                                            
     needed only 2 years  ago. If cuts like this are necessary for a                                                            
     balanced budget, then it is time to look for new resources.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ART PETERSON, retired attorney, testified in Juneau as follows.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     …in support  of the House budget  bill's inclusion of  $125,000                                                            
     for the  Alaska Legal Services  Corporation, in the  Department                                                            
     of  Community  and Economic  Development's  FY  2005  operating                                                            
     budget.  This  bill  is  currently  in your  committee,  and  I                                                            
     strongly  urge you to retain,  or raise, that amount  for ALSC.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     This  appropriation  is  crucial to  the  continuing  civil-law                                                            
     legal  services  that  ALSC  provides  to  Alaska's  low-income                                                            
     people, including  seniors, families, battered spouses, and the                                                            
     typically  disadvantaged. It thus helps the functioning  of the                                                            
     juvenile justice system, itself.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     For  the  last  three decades,  I  have  closely  observed  the                                                            
     operations of ALSC,  as a member of its board of directors. And                                                            
     I can  assure you that  the state gets  the most "bang  for the                                                            
     buck" from its financial  aid to this corporation - efficiency!                                                            
     Its lawyers  and support staff work for nominal  wages, and put                                                            
     in great  amounts of uncompensated  overtime, because  of their                                                            
      commitment to the principle of equal access to justice.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LARRY WIGET, Executive Direct, Public Affairs, Anchorage School                                                                 
District, testified via teleconference from Anchorage to read a                                                                 
statement into the record as follows.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The Anchorage School  District respectfully requests the Alaska                                                            
     Legislature  increase  the amount of  State Debt Reimbursement                                                             
     appropriation in the  budget to fully fund the Anchorage School                                                            
     District's State debt reimbursement entitlement.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Our  discussions with  the State  Department  of Education  and                                                            
     Early Development  (DEED) indicate that the Governor's FY 2004-                                                            
     2005 proposed  budget, the bill currently before  you, does not                                                            
     include   funding  for  the   additional  $2,837,383*   of  the                                                            
     Anchorage   School   District's    State  debt   reimbursement                                                             
     entitlement resulting  from approval in January of ASD projects                                                            
     that qualify  for State debt  reimbursement under the  combined                                                            
     authorization  of  House Bill  2003 and  Statewide approval  of                                                            
     Proposition C.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  State  Department  of  Education   and Early  Development                                                             
     notified  the Anchorage School District in January  of approval                                                            
     of   additional   projects   that   qualify  for   State   debt                                                            
     reimbursement. The  authorization provides for 60 percent or 70                                                            
     percent  debt  reimbursement  on school  construction  projects                                                            
     that received  local voter approval back to June  30, 1999. For                                                            
     the  Anchorage School  District,  this involved  submittal  and                                                            
     approval  of projects related  to voter approval in  April 2000                                                            
     and April  2002 including portions  of bonds refunded  in 2002.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     The  District was  required by  State regulation  to submit  an                                                            
     estimated amount of  State debt for FY 2004-2005 by October 15,                                                            
     2003.  The District did not include  anticipated reimbursement                                                             
     for the April  2000 and April 2002 including  portions of bonds                                                            
     refunded in 2002.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The  Anchorage  School  District requests  the  Legislature  to                                                            
     increase  the appropriation to honor the governor's  commitment                                                            
      to fully fund the State Debt reimbursement entitlement.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     *We  have  reviewed   our  cash  flow  needs  on  all  existing                                                            
     projects,  including Proposition  4 that was approved  on April                                                            
     6,  2004.   The  revised  amount   of  additional  State   debt                                                            
     reimbursement  for  FY  2004-2005  is  $2,837.383  rather  than                                                            
     $3,570,976  provided legislators  early on. The amount  is less                                                            
     since not all our propositions passed.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 6:37 PM / 6:43 PM                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ANDY  HARRINGTON   testified  via   teleconference  from   Fairbanks                                                            
representing the  Alaska Legal Services Corporation.  He told of the                                                            
civil legal assistance  provided for low income Alaskans  in matters                                                            
including loss  of housing, health  care insurance, and employment.                                                             
He  stated  that  the  funding  amount  approved  by  the  House  of                                                            
Representatives is the  same as the previous year, and requested the                                                            
Committee  support  the same  funding. He  noted  that Mat-Su  would                                                            
begin participating  in the  human services  matching grant  program                                                            
and he  urged the Committee  provide adequate  funding to allow  the                                                            
community to participate  at the same level currently enjoyed by the                                                            
Municipality of  Anchorage and the Fairbanks North  Star Borough. He                                                            
listed  and  argued  against  three  reasons  against  funding  this                                                            
program:  the  State  could  not  afford  to,  but  he  argued  that                                                            
nonprofits could  deliver services at a lower cost  than government;                                                            
too many  nonprofit  organizations  currently exist,  and  countered                                                            
that any  duplication  of services  could be  eliminated; and  faith                                                            
based  services should  deliver these  services,  pointing out  that                                                            
many  faith  based  organizations  are  currently   providing  these                                                            
services and require funding to continue to do so.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE PRICE,  Director, Fairbanks Community Mental  Health Center,                                                            
and  Officer,  Alaska  Mental  Health  Board,  and  Officer,  Alaska                                                            
Community   Mental  Health  Services   Association,  testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from  Fairbanks   to  a platform   developed,  which                                                            
includes  a fiscal  plan  to  ensure adequate  resources  for  State                                                            
services for vulnerable  Alaskans. She noted that funding for mental                                                            
health grants  has reduced  each year for last  ten to 15 years  and                                                            
providers  are encouraged  to bill Medicaid  for services  rendered.                                                            
However,  she said  that Medicaid  does  not adequately  fund  these                                                            
services.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CARRIE DERSHIN,  Health  and Social Services  Commission,  Fairbanks                                                            
North  Star Borough,  testified  via teleconference  from  Fairbanks                                                            
about the services  provided by the  local nonprofit organizations,                                                             
including meal  delivery to elderly  housebound residents,  juvenile                                                            
justice  assistance, and  mental health  care  services. She  stated                                                            
that the  State grant funds  garner 14 times  the initial amount  in                                                            
donations and in-kind services.  She stressed the community matching                                                            
grant program is a cost effective method to deliver services.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ROGER GAY, resident  of Big Lake, testified via teleconference  from                                                            
Mat-Su  to request  the  Committee  not reduce  funding  for  mental                                                            
health care services.  He expounded on the needs of  individuals for                                                            
mental  health services,  which  he stated  is less  expensive  than                                                            
institutionalization  or  no  care. He  also spoke  to  the need  to                                                            
provide support for those delivering care.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
PAT BALL,  Certified  Nurse, representing  Valley  Hospital and  the                                                            
Alaska Nurses Association,  testified via teleconference from Mat-Su                                                            
to request  funding for public health  nursing. She told  of her ten                                                            
years working with public  health workers, particularly in the field                                                            
of infectious  diseases. She  stated that  these workers are  "front                                                            
line" in addressing these  diseases, but are often forgotten because                                                            
they  work  behind  the scenes.  She  informed  that  public  health                                                            
nursing assists in reducing  costs that would otherwise go untreated                                                            
and eventually  lead to emergency room visits. She  stated that many                                                            
patients are only willing to confide in public health nurses.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JAMES GARHART,  resident  of Wasilla, testified  via teleconference                                                             
from Mat-Su, to  thank Senator B. Stevens for efforts  "of crediting                                                            
the constitutionally  mandated  25 percent  resource royalty  toward                                                            
the  amount  required for  inflation  proofing  the  permanent  fund                                                            
corpus." He  asserted that now is  the time to change the  structure                                                            
of the general fund budget  and implement forward funding. He stated                                                            
that  after  inflation  proofing  and  dividends,  adequate  funding                                                            
remains  in Alaska  Permanent Fund  Earnings Reserve  Fund to  fully                                                            
fund expenditures  of the general fund for one year.  Afterwards, he                                                            
said State  government could  be forward  funding. He offered  other                                                            
suggestions for funding Alaska.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 04 # 77, Side B                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ELLEN   KRSNAK,    Catholic   Social    Services,   testified    via                                                            
teleconference  from  Anchorage  that  reduction  to  the  community                                                            
matching  grants  program  would  greatly  impact  the  delivery  of                                                            
services  to Southcentral  Alaska  by the Catholic  Social  Services                                                            
agency.  She expressed  that  more of  the funds  of  the grant  are                                                            
utilized  than any  other  appropriation,  as they  are matched  100                                                            
percent with local funds.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BONNIE  JOHNSON,   Public  Health  Nurse  for  29  years,   Retired,                                                            
testified  via teleconference  from  Fairbanks in  support of  fully                                                            
funding the program. She  stated that the current challenges for the                                                            
program  are greater than  ever, given  bio-terrorism, Severe  Acute                                                            
Respiratory Syndrome  (SARS), as well as measles,  and tuberculosis,                                                            
which still  persist in  the State.  She expressed  this is  not the                                                            
time  to reduce  funding for  this  program, which  addresses  these                                                            
threats.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
EMILY  ENNIS, Executive  Director,  Fairbanks Resource  Agency,  and                                                            
Vice  President,  Key Campaign  testified  via  teleconference  from                                                            
Fairbanks about the services  the Agency provides to developmentally                                                            
disabled  children and  adults as  well as elders  with Alzheimer's                                                             
disease.  She reminded  of the recent  visit to  the Legislature  by                                                            
members of  the Key Campaign  to speak of  the needs of the  State's                                                            
most vulnerable  citizens. She remarked that funding  these programs                                                            
would provide cost effective services.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SAMMYE POKRYKI testified  via teleconference from Mat-Su, in support                                                            
of community  matching grants.  She stated  this allows residents  a                                                            
cost-effective  way to  continue services.  She  requested the  same                                                            
level of funding as passed by the House of Representatives.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PETER BURCHELL  testified via teleconference  from Mat-Su  about the                                                            
need for  planning  in delivery  of services  thought the  community                                                            
matching grants  programs. He remarked that many organizations  have                                                            
stopped  delivering  services  due  to  inadequate  funding  and  he                                                            
requested that the remaining be allowed to continue.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JACKIE DEBENEC,  Vice President, Arctic Alliance,  and representing,                                                            
Adult  Learning Programs  of Alaska,  testified  via teleconference                                                             
from Fairbanks  that nonprofit  human service  agencies provide  the                                                            
most  cost-effective  way of  delivering  services.  She listed  the                                                            
needs of some  programs and the funding  needs that would  go unmet.                                                            
She noted that  if those studying  for general equivalency  diplomas                                                            
(GED) to attain  jobs are hungry and  in poor health, they  would be                                                            
unable to complete  their education despite their  efforts and would                                                            
therefore be unable to become self-supporting.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
JEANETTE GRASTO, National  Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Alaska                                                            
Mental Health  Board, and advocate  for the mentally ill,  testified                                                            
via teleconference  from  Fairbanks  that the State  must develop  a                                                            
fiscal  plan  that  would provide  adequate  funding  for  the  most                                                            
vulnerable   Alaskans.  She   charged  that   the  proposed   budget                                                            
reductions would create  a "false economy", because more funds would                                                            
be required  later to address the  consequences of unmet  needs. She                                                            
remarked  that  treating  Alaskan  children  in  facilities  located                                                            
outside the state  is not beneficial because the children  return to                                                            
a home that has not been addressed.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green requested  the  witness contact  her,  as she  could                                                            
clarify some information.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
GREG HILL,  Librarian, Fairbanks North  Star Borough, testified  via                                                            
teleconference  from Fairbanks  on behalf of  himself in support  of                                                            
the budget subcommittee's  recommendation for funding  libraries. He                                                            
also requested the Committee  increase funding to that passed by the                                                            
House of Representatives.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  understood that some archived material  would be lost                                                            
due to  poor storage conditions.  He asked  if the witness  felt the                                                            
matter was being adequately addressed.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Hill qualified  he is not an expert  in the field of  archiving,                                                            
but noted  that reduced funding  has limited  the ability for  these                                                            
activities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RIKI SIPE,  Member, Fairbanks North  Star Borough Health  and Social                                                            
Services  Commission, testified  via teleconference  from  Fairbanks                                                            
about proposed  budget reductions  to the  community matching  grant                                                            
programs.  She reiterated  that  although appropriations  garner  14                                                            
times the actual dollar  amount, volunteer efforts are immeasurable.                                                            
She stated that  the local agencies are able to determine  the needs                                                            
and provide services to  address specific needs. She listed the Boys                                                            
and  Girls Club,  the  Salvation  Army, dental  services  and  other                                                            
program that would not be funded without this grant.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ANNIE HOPPER testified  via teleconference from Fairbanks,  that ten                                                            
agencies  that  requested  grants would  not  receive  funds if  the                                                            
community  matching  grant   program  were  not  fully  funded.  She                                                            
expressed   social  responsibility   to  provide   these   services,                                                            
including  providing  housing  for  homeless  children  and  keeping                                                            
families intact.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
IAN MICHAL  HEBERT, Government  Relations  Director, Association  of                                                            
Students, University  of Alaska, testified  via teleconference  from                                                            
Fairbanks in favor of SB  283. He stated that Alaskans are anxiously                                                            
awaiting  the  outcome  of the  free  conference  on this  bill.  He                                                            
appreciated  the $15.8 million included  for the University  in this                                                            
bill,  noting  the  increased  Public  Employees  Retirement  System                                                            
(PERS) and Teachers Retirement System (TRS) expenses.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ANNETTE FREIBURGER,  Member, Arctic  Alliance for People,  testified                                                            
via teleconference  from  Fairbanks,  that the  Alliance provides  a                                                            
wide range of  services for residents in community.  She stated that                                                            
the Alliance has discussed  the need for efficiency of services. She                                                            
also reported  that she has been advised that the  University system                                                            
is a model for the nation.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JERRY BROWN, Commissioner,  Fairbanks North Star Borough  Health and                                                            
Social  Services  Commission,  testified   via teleconference   from                                                            
Fairbanks  in favor  of the  community  matching  grant program.  He                                                            
requested the  Committee consider  the value placed on the  services                                                            
provided  by  this  program.  He  remarked  that  the  State  has  a                                                            
responsibility  to provide essential  health and social services  to                                                            
communities, which he said  has been passed to local communities. He                                                            
reported that communities  have done a commendable job of delivering                                                            
these  services,  but would  be unable  to  continue  at this  level                                                            
without sufficient  funding. He noted  that $1 million would  not be                                                            
adequate given that the  Mat-Su region would be joining the program.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JOHN CANNON  testified via  teleconference  from Mat-Su to  urge the                                                            
Committee  to collaborate  with  Governor  Frank Murkowski  and  the                                                            
House  of Representatives  to develop  a fiscal  plan that  provides                                                            
adequate funding  for vulnerable Alaskans.  He asked for  support in                                                            
restoring funds for the  mental health court in Anchorage as well as                                                            
establishment of additional  courts in the State, citing the need in                                                            
the  Mat-Su.  He  also  requested  that  Alaskan  children   receive                                                            
treatment  within the  State,  and services  be made  available  for                                                            
disabled  homeless   people.  He   asked  for  no  further   funding                                                            
reductions  to community  matching  grants or  Medicaid waivers.  He                                                            
warned that good services  have been developed, but "this safety net                                                            
is in danger" and "has eroded".                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
BERNARD  GATEWOOD, Fairbanks  North Star Borough  Health and  Social                                                            
Services Commission,  testified via  teleconference from  Fairbanks,                                                            
to urge the Committee to  reconsider and fund the community matching                                                            
grant program  at least  $1 million,  although he  pointed out  that                                                            
$1.5 million  is necessary with the  inclusion of the Mat-Su  region                                                            
in the program.  He spoke  to the good rate  of return of  the funds                                                            
invested in  communities in Alaska.  He surmised that if  this was a                                                            
stock with  a return of 14  to 1, Committee  members would  "jump on                                                            
it" and invest funds.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CARL EVERTSBUSCH,  Key Coalition, testified via teleconference  from                                                            
Anchorage,  to  reiterate  Emily Ennis  and  John Cannon  about  the                                                            
increasing  need for services for  developmentally disabled  through                                                            
Medicaid  waivers.  He  remarked   on the  remarkable   outcomes  of                                                            
programs. He relayed that  the membership of the Coalition support a                                                            
fiscal plan and that members  were willing to forgo a portion of the                                                            
permanent fund dividends and would also consider taxes.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  thanked the witness  for offering suggestions  on how                                                            
to raise revenue.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
STEVE  WILLIAMS, Project  Manager,  Anchorage  District Coordinated                                                             
Resources Project, also  known as the mental health court, testified                                                            
via  teleconference  from Anchorage  to  encourage  funding for  the                                                            
program   in  Anchorage  and   to  expand   the  program  to   other                                                            
communities.   He  stated  that  when  it  was  decided   to  reduce                                                            
incidences  of institutionalization  of those  with mental  illness,                                                            
prison populations  increased with  a significant portion  of inmate                                                            
populations  suffering  from  mental  illness.  He  spoke  to  unmet                                                            
treatments   of  mentally  ill  people   and  criminal  acts   often                                                            
committed. Once  labeled a criminal, he remarked that  an individual                                                            
is more  likely to  re-offend and  be returned  to criminal  justice                                                            
system  rather than  receive treatment  for the  mental illness.  He                                                            
told of the reduced incarceration  rates since the implementation of                                                            
the  mental health  court  program  and subsequent  savings  to  the                                                            
Department of  Corrections and local communities.  He pointed to the                                                            
added benefit  that "it's the right  thing to do" and also  improves                                                            
quality of life.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  clarified that the  witness understood that  funding                                                            
has not been reduced for this program.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Williams did.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DEWAYNE   HARRIS,  Program   Director,  Brother   Francis   Shelter,                                                            
testified  via  teleconference  from  Anchorage  in support  of  the                                                            
community  services matching  grant program.  He qualified  that the                                                            
Shelter does not  received funds from this grant program,  although,                                                            
because  the Shelter only  provides housing  for individual  adults,                                                            
many families  are  in need of  services provided  by organizations                                                             
that do receive the grant  funds. He described the emotional harm in                                                            
separating families and homelessness on children.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BOB  BUNDY,  Board   Member,  Alaska  Legal  Services  Corporation,                                                             
testified via  teleconference from  Anchorage in support  of funding                                                            
for  the  Alaska  Legal  Services  Corporation   and  the  community                                                            
matching grants program.  He detailed his experience as an attorney.                                                            
He  noted   that  most  attorneys   are  problem  solvers   and  the                                                            
Corporation attorneys provide  advice to low-income clients to avoid                                                            
more serious and more expensive  legal problems later. He emphasized                                                            
that these  attorneys  work for  "laughable" salaries,  and are  not                                                            
involved  in criminal  matters, or  class action  suits that  garner                                                            
large awards.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BRENDA   MOORE,   Christian   Health   Associates,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from  Anchorage,   that  the  Association  does  not                                                            
receive any  funds from the community  matching grants program.  She                                                            
told of efforts  to increase capacity  in faith-based organizations                                                             
to provide  more  services.  However, she  warned  that without  the                                                            
current level of funding,  faith-based organizations would have more                                                            
difficulty  filling  the gap.  She told  of efforts  with  emergency                                                            
shelters  to develop  a contingency  plan to  shelter families  with                                                            
children who currently do not have services available.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SARA  JACKSON, Director,  Saint  Frances House,  Catholic  Community                                                            
Services,  testified via  teleconference from  Anchorage and  read a                                                            
statement into the record as follows.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     St.   Frances  House   provided   food  assistance   to   4,925                                                            
     individuals last month.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Additionally,  we facilitated the distribution  of 236 boxes of                                                            
     USDA [United States  Department of Agriculture] Food, a program                                                            
     that  targets  the elderly,  pregnant  women and  children.  By                                                            
     March,  we  were the  only  significant  source  for  financial                                                            
     assistance  in Anchorage  that still had  funds. That  month we                                                            
     distributed  nearly $11,000.00  for the prevention of  eviction                                                            
     and  utility shut-off  to 38  families including  54  children.                                                            
     When we  resume the financial  assistance program next  winter,                                                            
     the  funds we  received through  HSMG will  determine how  many                                                            
     families we can prevent  from becoming homeless. Community belt                                                            
     tightening  is felt the  most at the  bottom and reductions  in                                                            
     family  support services have  dramatically increased  the need                                                            
     for emergency  assistance. Many  people tell us they  have been                                                            
     unable  to  secure  adequate  employment  before  unemployment                                                             
     benefits  run out. Unemployment  and hunger  are at an  extreme                                                            
     level  in villages resulting  in families  moving to  Anchorage                                                            
     seeking relief  from their situation. We have  95 families from                                                            
     Mat-Su  on our food  pantry database and  we serve families  as                                                            
     far as Girdwood. Our  client load is up 20% over the last year.                                                            
     Our  staff is up  0%. The HSMG  helps to fund  one of our  four                                                            
     staff  positions,   the essential   position  of  Resource  and                                                            
     Volunteer  Coordinator.  Through  the  funding of  that  single                                                            
     person,  St. Francis  House leveraged  1.240  hours of  donated                                                            
     labor  by 45 volunteers  in March. Some  of the people  that we                                                            
     rely on  to help us deliver services  are people who  also rely                                                            
     upon  St. Francis House  to provide them  with a user  friendly                                                            
     setting  in which to  develop social and  job skills. We  are a                                                            
     work  site  for developmentally  delayed  students,  adult  and                                                            
     youth  offenders and community  restitution programs.  The work                                                            
     of  St.  Francis  House  is simple  enough  for  anyone  to  be                                                            
     successful  and  meaningful enough  to strengthen  the  weakest                                                            
     self-esteem,  and soften the  hardest attitude. This  is a win-                                                            
     win  exchange  that  provides  immeasurable   benefits  to  the                                                            
     community.  Please reconsider  your recommendation to  cut this                                                            
     important  lifeline  to  so  many  Alaskans  during  this  very                                                            
     difficult economic period.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 04 # 78, Side A 07:47 PM                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DIANE DISANTO, Municipality  of Anchorage, Mayor's Office, testified                                                            
via teleconference  from  Anchorage,  to thank  Representative  Mike                                                            
Hawker  for restoring  funding  for  the municipal  matching  grants                                                            
program.  She  expressed  disappointment  that  the  Senate  reduced                                                            
funding especially given  that Mat-Su would be added to the program.                                                            
She pointed out that Anchorage  serves as a hub for the entire state                                                            
and serves  those who  travel to  Anchorage and  find themselves  in                                                            
need. She  stated that  agencies funded  with this  grant provide  a                                                            
critical  role  in  getting  basic  services  for  individuals.  She                                                            
informed that in the recent  municipal election, voters approved the                                                            
development  of a long-range fiscal  plan for the State by  a ration                                                            
of two to one.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA   SENNEL,   Alaska  Nurses   Association,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from Anchorage  to request  the Committee adopt  the                                                            
funding  approved by  the House  of Representatives  for the  public                                                            
health  nursing program.  Given  the  increased risk  of  infectious                                                            
diseases, she was unable  to understand why funding would be reduced                                                            
from  the amount  recommended  by  the Governor.  She  supported  an                                                            
increase in the tobacco tax.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KJERSTI  LANGNES, Clare  House,  testified via  teleconference  from                                                            
Anchorage that  funds received through the community  matching grant                                                            
program pays  the salaries  for six staff  positions. She  explained                                                            
the shelter provides  emergency shelter for women  and children. She                                                            
warned  that if it  becomes necessary  to close  the shelter  during                                                            
daytime  hours  infants and  toddlers  would  likely spend  days  in                                                            
libraries, laundry mats, and shopping malls.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
R.  BRUCE   PARHAM,  President,  Alaska   Historical  Society,   and                                                            
Archivist,   National  Archives   and  Records   Administration   in                                                            
Anchorage,  testified via teleconference  from Anchorage  in support                                                            
of funding  for the programs and services  provided by the  Division                                                            
of Libraries,  Archives and  Museums and the  Office of History  and                                                            
Archeology.  He pointed  out that  since he  began supporting  these                                                            
programs in  1976, the budgets for  these agencies has been  reduced                                                            
40-60  percent.  He  told of  the  resulting  staff  reductions  and                                                            
reduced services.  He requested funding  to restore the position  of                                                            
curator  at  the  Sheldon  Jackson   Museum  in  Sitka,  to  add  an                                                            
electronic  archivist  position  in  Juneau  and  a  record  analyst                                                            
position in  Anchorage. He noted that  other states have  electronic                                                            
archivist staff,  and that a record analyst is needed  for Anchorage                                                            
to  ensure  that  the  large  number  of State  agencies   regularly                                                            
transfer  their   records  to  archives.  He  warned   of  potential                                                            
litigation if unable to retrieve and produce records.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
RONALD TAYLOR testified  via teleconference from Anchorage about the                                                            
Alcohol Safety Action Program.  He stated that funding for the Adult                                                            
portion of  the program was  removed from  the budget, and  although                                                            
some  grant  funds   have  been  restored,  funding  for   personnel                                                            
services,  travel and  other expenses  was not.  He stated that  the                                                            
office could  not function  and provide the  same level of  services                                                            
with only  seven staff  positions,  half of the  current number.  He                                                            
also  spoke to  the increased  match  requirement  from $150,000  to                                                            
$370,000  and stressed  this  requirement  could not  be met  unless                                                            
revenue  from client  fees increased,  which he  stated is  unlikely                                                            
given the low income of the clients.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  requested the witness contact her  office to receive                                                            
updated information  about funding  for this program. She  expressed                                                            
efforts  to identify  methods  to ensure  all fees  are paid  before                                                            
offenders are released by the court system.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA   SMITH,   Alaska   Historical   Society,    testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from  Anchorage,  about  her  concerns  of  proposed                                                            
funding  for Alaska  state  museums,  libraries, and  archives.  She                                                            
understood  Co-Chair Wilken's efforts  to increase funding  for this                                                            
division  and encouraged  the  Committee to  consider  the House  of                                                            
Representatives funding level.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MARIE  LAVIGNE,  Alaska Public  Health  Association,  testified  via                                                            
teleconference from Anchorage,  urges SFC to restore full funding to                                                            
Department of  Health and Social Services for nurse  funding. Public                                                            
Health Nursing  is necessary.  Disease  control services  especially                                                            
vital.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
V.  KAY  LAHDENPERA,   Alaska  Nurses  Association,   testified  via                                                            
teleconference  from Anchorage  that she was  a public health  nurse                                                            
with the Municipality of  Anchorage for 35 years and is now retired.                                                            
Public  health, she  remarked,  has been  an essential  part of  the                                                            
health  care system  in  this country  for the  past  100 years  and                                                            
should  not be  reduced.  She did  not want  health  aides in  rural                                                            
communities  to be  reduced,  as these  positions  are important  to                                                            
public  health nurses.  She  warned that  if services  are  reduced,                                                            
private  providers  would  be  unwilling  to  serve  the  low-income                                                            
patients.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ANNA ATTCA testified via  teleconference from Anchorage on behalf of                                                            
People First and to request  no elimination of Medicaid waivers. She                                                            
spoke of people with disabilities  and their options in life to live                                                            
in group homes, etc.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
D  VERA   JAMES,   Alaska  Native   Health  Board,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from  Anchorage to  share information  contained  in                                                            
written testimony as follows.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  Alaska  Native  Health  Board  strongly   encourages  that                                                            
     funding for the Human  Service Matching Block Grant be retained                                                            
     at $1.16 million.  The Senate's reduction of the block grant to                                                            
     $667,000 will negatively  impact shelters, food for the hungry,                                                            
     disaster assistance,  oral health care, prescriptions, and meal                                                            
     delivery service to the frail elderly.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Please retain the full $1.16 million as introduced by the                                                                  
     House for Human Service Matching Grant funding.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 8:13 PM / 8:13 PM                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                

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