Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/04/2013 05:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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SB 93-TECHNICAL/VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAM 5:31:23 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY reconvened the meeting and announced the consideration of SB 93, sponsored by Senator Donny Olson. "An Act extending the unemployment contributions for the Alaska technical and vocational education program." 5:31:38 PM DAVID SCOTT, Staff, Senator Donny Olson, introduced SB 93 on behalf of the sponsor. He spoke to the following sponsor statement: [Original punctuation provided.] The Technical and Vocational Education Fund authorized under AS 23.15.840 sunsets on June 30, 2014. Senate Bill 93 extends the sunset date to June 30, 2024. In 2000 the Alaska Legislature created the Training and Vocational Education Program to provide financial assistance to support facilities throughout the state that provide technical and educational programs for industry specific training. Alaska was experiencing unemployment rates that were reaching to above 50% of the national average in 2008. With large projects on the horizon, there was a clear need for a trained, resident work force. The TVEP program was extended to provide training to Alaskan residents to help reduce the unemployment rate and put Alaskan residents to work. Figures released on March 14, 2013 by the Department of Labor indicated that unemployment rates in Alaska for December of 2012 were 6.6%, while the national average was 8.1%. Alaska has had a consistent lower rate than the national average for the past forty-six months, indicating the effectiveness of this program. Funds for the TVEP program are appropriated from amounts the state collects in unemployment insurance contributions at a rate of .15 percent and are allocated according to statute. The more we can train our youth, as they enter the work force, the more we will re-enforce the desirability of staying in Alaska as part of a highly skilled, resident work force. The last five years has shown this fund works. We can double the effectiveness with ten more years. MR. SCOTT stated that by statute each of the ten entities in the program is required to submit an annual report to the legislature. He noted that the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) and the University of Alaska each submitted fiscal notes. SENATOR MICCICHE said he only had one fiscal note. 5:33:34 PM At ease 5:34:18 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY reconvened the meeting and recognized Fred Villa. 5:34:29 PM FRED VILLA, Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs, Office of Workforce Programs, University of Alaska (UA), testified in support of SB 93. He thanked the committee for hearing the legislation and Senator Olson for sponsoring it, because it is a critical part of the university's career and technical education programs. He reported that the University of Alaska has over 200 workforce development programs and it uses TVEP funding for startup, for bridging from federal or other programmatic funds, and for sustainable funding. He explained that the university's role in workforce development is threefold: pre-college programs to connect youth with career pathways and help prepare them for academic rigors, academic certificates and degree programs, and professional development programs. The priorities in workforce development are economic and community development, career pathways that provide a series of connected education and training programs, and high demand jobs. MR. VILLA explained that TVEP funding has been critical in helping UA meet Alaska's workforce training and educational needs. The Workforce Programs Office works with representatives from the UA campuses, the Department of Labor and the Alaska Workforce Investment Board to identify state priority industry sectors and high-demand jobs, including regional priorities for occupational training programs. The campuses submit proposals based on the identified needs, and funding is distributed to the highest priority programs. He described specific pre-college and professional development programs. CHAIR DUNLEAVY noted that Greg Cashen with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) was available to answer questions on the bill. 5:40:21 PM SENATOR MICCICHE summarized that the bill extends for ten years an extremely successful program. He stated support for the bill. 5:41:04 PM At ease SENATOR MICCICHE moved to report SB 93, labeled 28-LS0728\A, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced that without objection SB 93 moved from the Senate Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.