Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/16/1999 10:20 AM House FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE May 16, 1999 10:20 A.M. TAPE HFC 99 - 143, Side 1. CALL TO ORDER Vice Chair Bunde called the House Finance Committee meeting to order at 10:20 A.M. PRESENT Co-Chair Mulder Representative Foster Vice Chair Bunde Representative Grussendorf Representative G. Davis Representative Kohring Representative Austerman Representative Moses Representative J. Davies Representative Williams Representative Therriualt was not present for the meeting. ALSO PRESENT Senator Gary Wilken; Wendy Redman, Vice President, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Mary Gore, Staff, Senator Mike Miller; David Essary, Director of Finance, Department of Administration; Debbie Grundmann, Staff, Senator Sean Parnell. SUMMARY SB 155 An Act relating to methods of payment of and reports concerning certain state salaries and business expenses. CSSB 155(FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no recommendation" and with a fiscal note by the Department of Administration dated 5/7/99. SB 167 An Act relating to scholarships to attend the University of Alaska; establishing the Alaska scholars program; and providing for an effective date. CSSB 167(FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with a fiscal note by the University of Alaska dated 5/7/99. SB 169 An Act relating to missions and measures to be applied to certain expenditures by the executive branch of state government and the University of Alaska from the state operating budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000; and providing for an effective date. CSSB 169(FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and a fiscal note by the Office of the Governor dated 5/10/99. CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 167(FIN) An Act relating to scholarships to attend the University of Alaska; and providing for an effective date. SEANTOR GARY WILKEN commented that the University of Alaska Board of Regents has established the Alaska Scholars Program. Under the program, scholarships are awarded to the top 10 percent of Alaska's high school students to attend the University of Alaska. A recipient receives the scholarship for up to four years, provided the student successfully completes a full-time certificate or degree program. The award in the amount of $1,350 per semester may be used for tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation and other education expenses. Senator Wilken noted that the legislation would guarantee that the Alaska Scholars Program continue and that bright and talented students will be encouraged to attend the University of Alaska. He urged the Committee's support of the bill. In response to Representative Grussendorf, Senator Wilken pointed out that the fiscal note indicates a scholarship for $2,700/year for 4 years to the University of Alaska for those students who met the criteria. The fiscal note assumes that 25% of potentially eligible graduates will take advantage of this program in FY00, and that 50% of potentially eligible graduates will take advantage of the program each year thereafter. Representative Austerman spoke in support of the legislation, however, voiced caution not to forget the remaining 90% of high school students. He urged that those graduating students should be encouraged to reach for higher education and that perhaps community colleges should be expanded. Senator Wilken hoped that the 10% group would act as a magnet to their other school friends considering college choices. He added that the K-14 initiative is a project proposed by President Hamilton. Co-Chair Mulder questioned language in Section 2, "Finance notice and approval". WENDY REDMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA, FAIRBANKS, explained that was a technical change. It refers to Section 1, which changes nothing. Representative J. Davies asked if the program was codified any place in statute. Senator Wilken replied that the original legislation spoke to general fund appropriations, and that language had been removed. However, it is still recognized through the presence of the bill. Co-Chair Mulder asked how many full time employees (FTE) were employed throughout the University of Alaska system. Ms. Redman replied that there are about 16,000 FTE's system- wide; in Anchorage there are 7,500, and Fairbanks with 4,000; the balance is spread throughout the system. Baccalaureate tuition program costs are a little below the national average; the community college programs are very high, approximately double that of other western states. Representative J. Davies advised that many students take advantage of the lower division courses through the community college system and that fees hikes are having a dramatic effect in loss of students which the State is experiencing. That is a serious issue. Ms. Redman agreed with Representative J. Davies regarding the cost crisis. The other big factor relative to the cost in this State is that communities do not help pay. There is no local participation or payment from either Anchorage or Fairbanks. She recommended that issue be addressed. Senator Wilken pointed out that the legislation was supported by the Administration. Representative G. Davis asked how the fiscal costs would be met. Ms. Redman replied that it would be income earned from the Natural Resources Fund, which currently was being spent on other projects. The University has decided this is a higher priority. Representative J. Davies MOVED to report CSSB 167(FIN) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CS SB 167(FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with a fiscal note by the University of Alaska dated 5/7/99. CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 155(FIN) An Act relating to methods of payment of and reports concerning certain state salaries and business expenses. MARY GORE, STAFF, SENATOR MIKE MILLER, explained that the proposed bill would expand the number of state entities, in addition to the Legislature, annually required to report travel and compensation. Detailed information for the previous calendar year of the salaries, per diem, travel expenses, relocation expenses and any additional allowances received would be the required from the following people: * Governor and Lt. Governor; * Chiefs of Staff of the above; * Supreme Court Justices & Court of Appeals Judges; * Administrative director of the Court: * Legislative Affairs Executive Director; * President & Vice President of the University; * Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners and Division Directors; and * Executive Heads of public corporations. Representative J. Davies questioned the need for the proposed legislation given the expense it would incur. Representative Kohring also spoke to the expense associated with the legislation. DAVID ESSARY, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION, stated that the fiscal note reflects efforts for personal services to prepare a report containing detailed information on salaries, per diem, travel expenses, relocation expense for all the above listed State employees. To compile the information will require gathering wage information from the payroll system, as well as gathering travel information for each individual's records. The Department estimates that this will take the equivalent of approximately three months time for an Accountant IV. Representative Kohring recommended that the information be made available through the Internet, which he believed would save costs. Representative Bunde observed that many people do not have computer access. Representative Grussendorf pointed out that the information would be required of approximately 125 employees. Representative J. Davies added that costs would be for distribution and assembling information. He noted that he objected to all the costs associated with the legislation. He exclaimed that there will be a need to educate why these costs were incurred. Representative Austerman also voiced his concern with the costs associated with the program. Representative J. Davies pointed out that currently the information is available for each department through the budget detail books. Representative Bunde countered that the public's right to know is paramount. Mr. Essary agreed that everyone has the right to know. The Division of Legislative Audit has conducted some of this type work on a smaller scale. The proposed legislation would remove the responsibility from that Division to the Department of Administration. Representative Austerman inquired if someone requested this information now would the Department provide it. Mr. Essary explained that they would, however, under the Public Information Act, information made available is provided at no charge. Any information that would require time gathering, as under this bill, the Department would be allowed to charge for. Mr. Essary stated that the Division of Legislative Audit has previously done a portion of this task; he voiced was concerned that if the bill does not pass, there could be a conflict between the two agencies. In response to Representative G. Davis, Ms. Gore replied that no sunset clause had been proposed. Representative Foster MOVED to report CSSB 155 (FIN) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal note. Representative Kohring OBJECTED. Representative J. Davies suggested that the money requested in the fiscal note could be used on many more important projects. He foresaw that $18 thousand dollars would only be the beginning of requested funds to run the program. Representative J. Davies stressed that this was not responsible spending. Representative Kohring observed that if reporting was not being requested for the Legislature, it should not be required for the other branches of government. He reiterated comments to place information on the Internet. Representative Williams voiced additional concern with the fiscal costs associated with the legislation. A roll call vote was taken on the motion to MOVED the bill. IN FAVOR: Foster, Kohring, Williams, Austerman, Bunde, G. Davis OPPOSED Grussendorf, Moses, J. Davies Representatives Mulder and Therriault were not present for the vote. The MOTION PASSED (6-3). CSSB 155 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no recommendation" and with a fiscal note by Department of Administration dated 5/7/99. CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 169(FIN) An Act relating to missions and measures to be applied to certain expenditures by the executive branch of state government and the University of Alaska from the state operating budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000; and providing for an effective date. DEBBIE GRUNDMANN, STAFF, SENATOR SEAN PARNELL, stated that SB 169 would continue legislative progress toward results based budgeting by enacting missions and measures for the FY00 operating budget. She pointed out that House and Senate subcommittees had worked with the various departments to adopt missions for the departments and divisions. Existing missions and measures adopted for FY99 programs were also refined and that those recommendations have been incorporated into SB 169. It would apply only to FY00 appropriations and would reflect substantial compliance with the results based budgeting requirements of the Executive Budget Act. Representative Grussendorf MOVED to report CSSB 169 (FIN) out of Committee out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CSSB 169(FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendations and with a fiscal note by the Office of the Governor dated 5/10/99. ADJOURNMENT The meeting adjourned at 11:05 a.m. H.F.C. 6 5/16/99 a.m.