Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/07/2003 01:33 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                               
                         April 7, 2003                                                                                          
                           1:33 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Fred Dyson, Chair                                                                                                       
Senator Lyda Green, Vice Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Gary Wilken                                                                                                             
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 105                                                                                                             
"An  Act   relating  to  eligibility  requirements   for  medical                                                               
assistance for  certain children, pregnant women,  and persons in                                                               
a medical  or intermediate  care facility;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     MOVED CSSB 105(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 51(HES)                                                                                                   
"An   Act  requiring   pharmacists   to   include  generic   drug                                                               
information on  containers in which brand-name  prescription drug                                                               
orders are dispensed."                                                                                                          
     MOVED CSHB 51(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 110                                                                                                             
"An  Act  relating to  admission  to  and advancement  in  public                                                               
schools  of  children under  school  age;  and providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     MOVED CSSB 110(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 104                                                                                                             
"An  Act   repealing  the  charter  school   grant  program;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     MOVED CSSB 104(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 121                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to community schools; and providing for an                                                                     
effective date."                                                                                                                
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
SB 105 - See HESS minutes dated 3/26/03 and 4/3/03.                                                                             
HB 51 - No previous action to record.                                                                                           
SB 110 - See HESS minutes dated 4/3/03.                                                                                         
SB 104 - No previous action to record.                                                                                          
SB 121 - No previous action to record.                                                                                          
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Ms. Marie Lavigne, Executive Director                                                                                           
Alaska Public Health Association                                                                                                
PO Box 9-1825                                                                                                                   
Anchorage AK 99509                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 105.                                                                                           
Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 51.                                                                                         
Mr. Fred Lau, Director                                                                                                          
Homer Senior Citizens, Inc.                                                                                                     
Homer AK                                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 51.                                                                                          
Mr. Eddy Jeans, School Finance Manager                                                                                          
Department of Education &                                                                                                       
 Early Development                                                                                                              
801 W 10 St.                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK  99801-1894                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 110.                                                                                         
Mr. John Davis, Superintendent                                                                                                  
Bering Straits School District                                                                                                  
Unalakleet AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 110.                                                                                          
Mr. Bruce Johnson                                                                                                               
Association of Alaska School Boards                                                                                             
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 110.                                                                                           
Mr. Rick Langfitt, Coordinator                                                                                                  
Kodiak Island Borough Community Schools                                                                                         
565 Perez Way                                                                                                                   
Kodiak AK 99615                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 121.                                                                                           
Ms. Joyce Kitka                                                                                                                 
Volunteer with Alaska Association for Community Education                                                                       
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 121.                                                                                           
Mr. Larry Wiget, Executive Director                                                                                             
Public Affairs, Anchorage School District                                                                                       
4600 DeBarr Rd.                                                                                                                 
Anchorage AK 99519                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 121.                                                                                           
Ms. Debbie Bogart, Director                                                                                                     
Community Education Program                                                                                                     
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
4600 DeBarr Rd.                                                                                                                 
Anchorage AK 99519                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 121.                                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 03-17, SIDE A                                                                                                            
        SB 105-MEDICAID:CHILDREN/PREGNANT WOMEN/FACILITY                                                                    
CHAIR FRED DYSON  called the Senate Health,  Education and Social                                                             
Services Standing  Committee meeting  to order  at 1:33  p.m. All                                                               
members  were  present.  He  announced   SB  105  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration and that there was  a proposed committee substitute                                                               
COMMISSIONER  JOEL GILBERTSON,  Department of  Health and  Social                                                               
Services  (DHSS),  explained that  SB  105  would lock-in  FY  03                                                               
administrative standards at 200 percent  of the poverty level for                                                               
Denali Kid Care clients and  pregnant women under Medicaid and at                                                               
300  percent  of  the  special  income standard  for  the  FY  03                                                               
administrative  standards  for  seniors  in long  term  care  and                                                               
individuals receiving  home or  community based  waiver services.                                                               
He explained:                                                                                                                   
     The  administration's position  is  that the  standards                                                                    
     that are applied  in the bill are those  that are being                                                                    
     currently  utilized by  the  program.  Locking them  in                                                                    
     will remove  the inflation factor in  the coming years.                                                                    
     We  believe  it's a  responsible  step  to control  the                                                                    
     growth  in  the  knowledge  that we  have  reached  the                                                                    
     maximum  carrying  capacity  for our  Medicaid  program                                                                    
     under current financial constraints.                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  GILBERTSON said  that the  standards are  very high                                                               
and that  the chairman has  an amendment to lower  them. However,                                                               
the governor supports the high standards.                                                                                       
CHAIR DYSON  said he struggled  because he  wanted to cut  to the                                                               
lowest levels. He asked why the [commissioner] didn't do that.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  GILBERTSON  replied  that   the  application  of  a                                                               
uniform  standard across  various  family sizes  is necessary  to                                                               
meet some  of the  equal protection  concerns within  the program                                                               
itself. Establishing  a differentiating standard  for individuals                                                               
who are technically under the  same economic status, though it is                                                               
adjusted  in  terms  of  the  income level  based  on  number  of                                                               
children, DHSS doesn't  believe is a plan  the federal government                                                               
will approve. They  believe that there needs to be  at least some                                                               
uniform standard, even if it is a locked, fixed dollar amount.                                                                  
CHAIR DYSON asked  if this bill is amended, would  he prefer that                                                               
it be  amended to a  percentage level  or to fixed  numbers under                                                               
that percentage level.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON replied that it  would be hard for him to                                                               
say  at this  stage whether  to use  a fixed  dollar amount  or a                                                               
percentage. Either  approach would lead to  a reduced eligibility                                                               
standard   from  that   which  the   governor's  bill   dedicates                                                               
eligibility standards at.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  DYSON  explained  if  they  go  to  a  fixed  amount,  the                                                               
mechanism  the governor  supports (letting  inflation reduce  the                                                               
impact in  the out-years)  would be accomplished.  If they  use a                                                               
percentage amount, it  could be argued that  inflation would take                                                               
it back up  to the nominal value  it's been at and  it would need                                                               
to be revisited in two or three years.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON replied that  he understood that, but the                                                               
governor's concern is  the inability of some people  to remain in                                                               
the program. The governor is  interested in seeing standards that                                                               
resemble  the 200  percent of  poverty standard  for FY  03 going                                                               
into the future.  Looking at the chart now, he  didn't think they                                                               
would be capturing the same group of individuals.                                                                               
SENATOR GARY  WILKEN asked  if they  have an  idea of  what every                                                               
ratchet down is worth in general fund money.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON replied that one  estimate he has is a 25                                                               
percent reduction going from 200  percent to 175 percent (150% is                                                               
the lowest  they can go  and still  be eligible for  the enhanced                                                               
federal match rate under the  children's health insurance program                                                               
with Denali  Kid Care's Alaska  component). They are  expecting a                                                               
true general  fund savings of  roughly $2 million. Going  down to                                                               
150 percent of  poverty level would be going from  the $3.5 to $4                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN moved  to adopt amendment #2 as follows:   on page                                                               
4,  line 7  insert $1,635;  on line  8 insert  $2,208; on  line 9                                                               
insert $2,782;  on line 11 insert  $3,355; on line 13  (family of                                                               
5) insert  $3,928; on line  14 insert  $4,501; on line  15 insert                                                               
$5,074; on line  17 insert $5,647; and on line  19 insert $5,647,                                                               
plus an additional $574.                                                                                                        
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS objected.                                                                                                
SENATOR  WILKEN  explained  that  he   didn't  have  a  frame  of                                                               
reference other than  dollars per hour. So, this was  very much a                                                               
judgment call. His  numbers do not use a  permanent fund dividend                                                               
component.  They need  to  get  the numbers  "nailed  down" as  a                                                               
matter of finance. At 200 percent,  they picked up people who are                                                               
making $9  per hour  and yet  in the family  of four  category, a                                                               
person could  have a job  at $19 per hour  and a family  of eight                                                               
category could  mean a person could  making $32 per hour.  At the                                                               
other  end of  the spectrum,  at 150  percent, you're  at $7  per                                                               
hour,  $14 per  hour or  $24 per  hour. He  just took  the middle                                                               
number to  get a sense  of where they are.  Now, a family  of one                                                               
can  make $8  per  hour and  that seemed  appropriate  to him.  A                                                               
family of four would make a little over $17 per hour.                                                                           
SENATOR  GUESS  explained  that she  objected  because  they  are                                                               
talking about  pregnant women  and kids  and, therefore,  need to                                                               
get into  some economic  analysis of the  true impact  when those                                                               
groups aren't covered.                                                                                                          
     We  know  the  amount  of  pressure  there  is  on  our                                                                    
     emergency rooms, especially with  kids. And I know from                                                                    
     the research I did and  I think all the committee knows                                                                    
     that when  pregnant women don't  have access  to health                                                                    
     care, they have  more low birth weight  babies who cost                                                                    
     society more  and that  abortion rates  go up.  I'm not                                                                    
     going  to be  a  part  of any  bill,  whether it's  the                                                                    
     governor's bill  or any  other bill  personally...if it                                                                    
     pulls pregnant women off.                                                                                                  
She said  she pays all the  bills and budgets for  her family and                                                               
tried to make a budget to  actually be able to afford health care                                                               
and said:                                                                                                                       
     Although $17  or $32  might sound like  a lot,  Gary, I                                                                    
     would actually  challenge the  committee and  Senate to                                                                    
     see now  after taxes on rent,  utilities, insurance and                                                                    
     try to  find the room where  you can have $600  to $700                                                                    
     so  you  can afford  insurance  and  that's what  we're                                                                    
     talking about in the trade offs with families.                                                                             
CHAIR DYSON asked for a roll call vote.                                                                                         
SENATORS GREEN, WILKEN,  and DYSON voted yea;  SENATORS GUESS and                                                               
DAVIS voted nay; and amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                   
SENATOR WILKEN  moved to pass  CSSB 105(HES) and  attached fiscal                                                               
note with individual recommendations out of committee.                                                                          
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS objected.                                                                                                  
CHAIR DYSON asked if anyone else wanted to testify.                                                                             
MS.  MARIE  LAVIGNE,  Executive Director,  Alaska  Public  Health                                                               
Association,   said  she   represented  over   200  health   care                                                               
professionals  across   Alaska  who   are  deeply   committed  to                                                               
developing sound public health policies  to improve the health of                                                               
all Alaskans including  access to health care. She  urged them to                                                               
continue  eligibility for  the  Denali Kid  Care  program at  the                                                               
fullest   level  possible   and  stated   that  SB   105  reduces                                                               
eligibility.  This  makes a  negative  impact  on the  health  of                                                               
pregnant women and children and others.                                                                                         
     Public  health research  on the  health impacts  of the                                                                    
     uninsured  is noteworthy.  Uninsured children  who need                                                                    
     medical [indisc.]  care, are four times  more likely to                                                                    
     go without the care they  need than insured children of                                                                    
     the  same health  needs.  As  Senator Guess  mentioned,                                                                    
     when they  do get  care, they are  sicker and  are more                                                                    
     likely  to be  seen  in the  emergency room.  Uninsured                                                                    
     children are  four and a  half times more likely  to do                                                                    
     without  needed  prescriptions  and eye  glasses;  five                                                                    
     times  more   likely  to   not  receive   dental  care.                                                                    
     Uninsured  children  are  one  and a  half  times  more                                                                    
     likely   to  arrive   to  kindergarten   without  their                                                                    
     vaccinations; they  are eight times more  likely not to                                                                    
     have  had  a  well child  visit  [recommended  periodic                                                                    
     check up by a physician]  before they arrive at school.                                                                    
     Uninsured  pregnant women  are less  likely to  receive                                                                    
     prenatal care,  placing them at risk  to deliver early,                                                                    
     low  birth  weight babies  and  the  greatest risk  for                                                                    
     fetal maternal deaths.                                                                                                     
     In  the  governor's   transmittal  letter,  he  states,                                                                    
     'while the  cost savings associated with  this bill are                                                                    
     modest   in  the   short   term,   this  measure   will                                                                    
     significantly  reduce  future  year  costs.'  From  the                                                                    
     public health  perspective, any  short term  savings if                                                                    
     not  compared  to the  greater  loss  in terms  of  the                                                                    
     health and  well being of  pregnant women  and children                                                                    
     and others  impacted under this  bill - we urge  you to                                                                    
     consider this  issue from  a different  perspective. SB
     105  is  seeking to  lower  the  enrollment of  medical                                                                    
     assistance  programs by  reducing eligibility.  Yet the                                                                    
     most effective  approach the Legislature could  take is                                                                    
     to  assist  employers  and   working  families  to  get                                                                    
     affordable health insurance...                                                                                             
     While there are many factors  that contribute to one in                                                                    
     five Alaskan's  lack of health insurance  coverage, one                                                                    
     of the  greatest barriers remains access  to affordable                                                                    
     health insurance.  A study by  the Anchorage  Access to                                                                    
     Health  Care  coalition  released this  fall  indicated                                                                    
     that 16,000  adults in Anchorage are  uninsured; 71% of                                                                    
     those  are   working  adults.   The  majority   are  in                                                                    
     businesses  with less  than 10  employees. We  need the                                                                    
     Legislature to  take steps to  join with  businesses in                                                                    
     addressing   the  issue   of  affordable   health  care                                                                    
     insurance. In  the meantime,  we urge  you to  keep the                                                                    
     eligibility for  this program at  the full 200%  of its                                                                    
     federal  poverty  level  to   maximize  the  health  of                                                                    
     pregnant  women and  children  who  are covered.  Thank                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked for a roll call vote.                                                                                         
SENATORS WILKEN, GREEN,  AND DYSON voted yea;  SENATORS DAVIS AND                                                               
GUESS voted no; and CSSB 105(HES) passed out of committee.                                                                      
              HB  51-LABELING OF PRESCRIBED DRUGS                                                                           
CHAIR FRED DYSON announced HB 51 to be up for discussion.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  PAUL  SEATON,  sponsor,   explained  that  HB  51                                                               
requires prescriptions  to be  labeled with  the generic  name as                                                               
well as  any brand  name on  the drug label.  The purpose  is the                                                               
health and  safety of Alaskans.  Ways of treating  illnesses have                                                               
changed  drastically,  especially  chronic illnesses.  Many  more                                                               
pills are  available and  typically a person  takes all  of their                                                               
bottles and sets each prescription out  for the week. If a person                                                               
orders a  prescription and gets  it with a  brand name on  it, it                                                               
will only have that name on it.  If they get a refill, they might                                                               
get only  the generic name.  So, a person  goes to fill  his pill                                                               
containers and doesn't know precisely  what the prescriptions are                                                               
and ends up double dosing.                                                                                                      
This has  been a  very significant  problem for  senior citizens,                                                               
especially. He  said the University  of Chicago and the  FDA have                                                               
done studies and  found that 15 percent of all  the drug problems                                                               
are caused  by drug overdoses,  because of people not  being able                                                               
to distinguish  the names. This is  one of the 15  items that the                                                               
FDA has  recommended to change.  AARP, the Alaska  Association of                                                               
Health  Underwriters,  the  Alaskan  State  Medical  Association,                                                               
Aetna  Insurance,  and a  number  of  senior citizens  homes  and                                                               
support this. No one opposes it.                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON said he assumed  that the pharmaceutical industry had                                                               
been informed and that they support it.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON replied that is correct.                                                                                  
MR. FRED LAU,  Director, Homer Senior Citizens, Inc.,  said it is                                                               
an organization that  runs programs for seniors 55  and older for                                                               
nutrition,  transportation,  adult  day  care,  assisted  living,                                                               
respite and independent  living. He affirmed that  a large number                                                               
of these  individuals are taking  from 5 to 15  medications. They                                                               
support  this   bill  for   the  reasons   Representative  Seaton                                                               
SENATOR GUESS moved  HB 51 and the attached zero  fiscal note out                                                               
of  committee  with  individual recommendations.  There  were  no                                                               
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               
                SB 110-UNDER SCHOOL AGE STUDENTS                                                                            
CHAIR FRED DYSON announced SB 110 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
MR. EDDY  JEANS, School Finance Manager,  Department of Education                                                               
and Early  Development, explained this legislation  would clarify                                                               
in  statute  the  ability of  school  districts  to  early-enroll                                                               
children who  are under  school age,  if they  are ready  for the                                                               
academics  that  are  being  provided to  them.  The  reason  the                                                               
department  asked for  this legislation  is that  it has  come to                                                               
their attention  that a number  of school districts in  the state                                                               
are  basically blanketly  enrolling  all four-year  olds in  what                                                               
they call  a two-year kindergarten  program. The  department does                                                               
not believe that  was the intent of this legislation  and that it                                                               
was intended  strictly to allow  the exceptional child to  get in                                                               
early. The  bill says the state's  intent is to provide  13 years                                                               
of funding for K-12, not 14 years of funding.                                                                                   
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS asked if  this prohibits a school district                                                               
from having  a two-year  kindergarten if they  want to  use other                                                               
sources of funding.                                                                                                             
MR. JEANS replied that it would  not. It just says they would not                                                               
be able to claim those kids for state foundation funding.                                                                       
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS asked how much  this would save and how many                                                               
school districts  were doing  it. She asked  if the  children who                                                               
are  identified  as  needing  the  two years  would  be  able  to                                                               
MR.  JEANS  replied  the  department  believes  this  section  of                                                               
statute  was  intended  for the  exceptional  child  coming  into                                                               
kindergarten  at four-years  old and  advance to  first grade  at                                                               
five years  old as  opposed to coming  into kindergarten  at five                                                               
like   most  do.   Some  schools   have  instituted   a  two-year                                                               
kindergarten program, but he would argue that it's preschool.                                                                   
SENATOR DAVIS  repeated how many exceptional  students are there.                                                               
"Do you know the number?"                                                                                                       
MR. JEANS  replied that  their fiscal  note identifies  all four-                                                               
year olds  that were  claimed under  the foundation  formula this                                                               
year. There  is a savings  of $3.9  million. "We believe  some of                                                               
these children are  eligible to be early-enrolled,  but the exact                                                               
number  I could  not  tell  you. We  believe  it's  a very  small                                                               
He  noted  that right  now  over  600  four-year olds  have  been                                                               
enrolled in school statewide.                                                                                                   
SENATOR DAVIS  asked if  he had asked  the districts  to identify                                                               
those children.                                                                                                                 
MR.  JEANS replied  that the  districts do  evaluations, but  the                                                               
standards have been set low enough  to allow any four year old to                                                               
enter  into  kindergarten. He  explained  that  the age  date  in                                                               
statute is August 15, so if a child  turns 5 on August 17, he can                                                               
be evaluated to determine if he is ready to enter kindergarten.                                                                 
     We're trying  to address  an issue  that's come  to our                                                                    
     attention  since we  started  collecting student  level                                                                    
     data  and   we  can   identify  that  in   some  school                                                                    
     districts, the  population of four year  olds is almost                                                                    
     identical to  the population of  five year  olds, which                                                                    
     leads us to believe they are enrolling them all.                                                                           
SENATOR WILKEN  asked when  this first  surfaced as  a foundation                                                               
formula issue.                                                                                                                  
MR. JEANS  replied they  had been  collecting student  level data                                                               
for four  years. He heard  rumors of  it prior to  collecting the                                                               
data, but he couldn't verify it. He now has birth dates.                                                                        
SENATOR WILKEN  noted a  spreadsheet in  their packets  that show                                                               
five school districts account for  about $2.5 million of the $3.5                                                               
million in funding.                                                                                                             
CHAIR DYSON said it was recommended that lines 11-13 be deleted.                                                                
MR. JEANS  replied that is correct.  It was a clerical  error and                                                               
the House  had already deleted  it from their bill.  He explained                                                               
that  the last  sentence says  a child  under school  age may  be                                                               
admitted  to first  grade or  higher,  if they  meet the  minimum                                                               
standards. This  would prevent that exceptional  child from being                                                               
able to enter kindergarten. He added  that this is not strictly a                                                               
foundation program  issue. "If we provide  foundation funding for                                                               
four-year olds,  then we have to  allow those kids to  be counted                                                               
for space. So, it also affects our facility site at the shop."                                                                  
SENATOR GUESS said  she hoped that an under-age  school child was                                                               
defined somewhere.  Are they just  talking about  kindergarten to                                                               
first grade?  She wanted  to make sure  there were  no unintended                                                               
consequences at any other grade levels.                                                                                         
MR.  JEANS replied  that was  right. It  is not  their intent  to                                                               
prevent children who  need to be held back from  being held back.                                                               
The funding is based on 13 years of schooling.                                                                                  
MR.  JOHN  DAVIS, Superintendent  of  the  Bering Straits  School                                                               
District,  opposed SB  110. He  said it  represents an  effort to                                                               
control state  spending, but he  is concerned that it  would only                                                               
save money in  the short term. This service is  being provided to                                                               
children  who are  among the  most  vulnerable and  educationally                                                               
needy. However, the  reduction in funding for  this program would                                                               
not create  the $3.5 million  represented. He contended  that the                                                               
bill  would  cost the  district  and  state additional  funds  in                                                               
remedial  services  and  other special  services  to  help  those                                                               
students who will  need any help they can get  in the future, but                                                               
that  in his  district  that would  not be  a  large number.  The                                                               
Bering Straits  School District has participated  in this program                                                               
for the last 13 years and he contends  this is not a new issue to                                                               
the department.                                                                                                                 
SUPERINTENDENT DAVIS said  that they had heard  that this program                                                               
is intended  for only 13 years,  but students who do  not qualify                                                               
for  a diploma  through a  high  school qualifying  exam will  be                                                               
eligible  for yet  another year  of school  and possibly  two. He                                                               
would like  to continue  this program to  see that  students have                                                               
this effort  early and the  expectation of passing the  exam will                                                               
be more likely.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  DYSON asked  how many  students  he has  enrolled in  this                                                               
SUPERINTENDENT DAVIS replied  that he has 100  children per class                                                               
in  his  school  district  and this  category  has  90  students.                                                               
District wide there is a student count of 1,800.                                                                                
MR.  BRUCE JOHNSON,  Association  of Alaska  School Boards,  drew                                                               
their attention to the governor's  investment plan as he outlined                                                               
his  budget. One  of the  categories  under the  mission for  the                                                               
Department  of  Education  and   Early  Development  states  high                                                               
quality early care  and education programs that  improve the well                                                               
being of young children. Their  contention is that the statute as                                                               
it currently exists  allows for that early  intervention into the                                                               
lives of four-year  olds who often reside in  poor, remote, rural                                                               
areas of our state. The notion  is that the state begins to serve                                                               
those kids  as a  preventative action. A  study conducted  by the                                                               
Economic  Policy Institute  talks  about equity  at the  starting                                                               
gate regarding  social background and differences  in achievement                                                               
as  children begin  school. This  study  validates that  children                                                               
enter school with wide achievement  disparities and that children                                                               
in the highest socio-economic groups  scored 60 percent higher in                                                               
mathematics and  reading as  compared to  children in  the lowest                                                               
categories.  These   findings  have  helped  support   what  many                                                               
educators have known for years  - the achievement gap begins long                                                               
before children enter school.                                                                                                   
CHAIR DYSON stated that he  personally didn't see any correlation                                                               
between  economic standards  and school  success. He  thought the                                                               
social  and  cultural  values  of   a  family  make  the  biggest                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN  asked if  they didn't do  anything about  SB 110,                                                               
would  the Fairbanks  North Star  Borough  be able  to count  all                                                               
four-year olds as kindergarteners.                                                                                              
MR. JEANS replied that is what  could happen this issue is before                                                               
the Legislature  now to  get some clarity  on application  of the                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN said  this looks truly like a policy  call that is                                                               
driven by the finances.                                                                                                         
CHAIR DYSON asked Mr. Jeans if  he need legislation to be able to                                                               
regulate the qualification standards.                                                                                           
MR. JEANS answered that local  school districts set the standards                                                               
by department  regulation. A number of  different instruments can                                                               
be  used  to  assess  whether  or   not  a  child  is  ready  for                                                               
kindergarten or  first grade and  the department did not  feel it                                                               
could  say which  particular assessment  everyone should  use. He                                                               
felt  that  regulation basically  had  no  effect. He  said  this                                                               
legislation would go a long way to cure the problem.                                                                            
SENATOR GREEN  moved on  page 1,  to delete  language on  line 12                                                               
beginning  with  "a  child"  through   line  13.  There  were  no                                                               
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               
SENATOR  DAVIS  said  she needed  some  clarification.  She  said                                                               
people in  those five school  districts whom she has  talked with                                                               
say  those  children need  more  time.  They  are not  coming  in                                                               
because  they're exceptional,  but  because they  will need  more                                                               
than kindergarten in order to move  into the first grade and they                                                               
want  to start  with  them as  early as  they  can. That  service                                                               
should  be  provided  to  those  that  need  it,  like  with  the                                                               
Headstart program.                                                                                                              
SENATOR GREEN  said it  would be interesting  to compare  the two                                                               
programs in Finance.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  DAVIS said  that Headstart  was not  necessarily in  the                                                               
five districts that are using this program.                                                                                     
TAPE 03-17, SIDE B                                                                                                            
SENATOR DAVIS said  that some of districts  might have Headstart,                                                               
but that  some kids from every  district need more than  13 years                                                               
to get  through school.  Some kids are  kept in  kindergarten and                                                               
some are held  back in first grade. She said  this bill hurts the                                                               
kids who need it the most.                                                                                                      
MR. JEANS agreed  with many of the things she  said, but they are                                                               
talking  about a  policy  call of  whether or  not  the State  of                                                               
Alaska wants to provide preschool  funding through the foundation                                                               
program.  Many districts  would  enroll four  year  olds if  they                                                               
thought they  were going to get  state funding for them.  Many of                                                               
the districts  on the list  generate impact aid funding.  If they                                                               
operate  a  preschool program,  they  will  continue to  generate                                                               
impact  aid  funding, which  the  state  will  not count  in  the                                                               
foundation program.  The districts  would be  able to  retain 100                                                               
percent of  that funding and  continue to support  their program.                                                               
It's a fairness question. If some can  do it, all have to be able                                                               
to do it.                                                                                                                       
SENATOR WILKEN moved  to pass CSSB 110 (HES)  from committee with                                                               
individual recommendations  and attached fiscal note.  There were                                                               
no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                            
              SB 104-REPEAL CHARTER SCHOOL GRANTS                                                                           
CHAIR FRED DYSON announced SB 104  to be up for consideration. In                                                               
preparing  this  legislation for  charter  schools,  he asked  if                                                               
federal money  was going  to be  there for sure  and when  did it                                                               
start. The answer he got  was almost certainly, but they wouldn't                                                               
know until mid-summer.  He wondered if they  should delay passing                                                               
this bill  until they are sure  of funding and the  answer he got                                                               
back today was  that the governor would prefer that  it pass with                                                               
contingency  language.  He  prepared draft  contingency  language                                                               
saying this bill only goes  into effect if the federal government                                                               
agreement happens.                                                                                                              
MR. EDDY JEANS  explained that this legislation  would repeal the                                                               
state grants for  start-up funds for charter schools.  It was his                                                               
understanding  that one  of the  reasons the  state started  down                                                               
that  road was  because  there was  minimal  federal support  for                                                               
starting charter  schools. He  has a chart  that shows  the state                                                               
was  granting charter  schools $140,000  to  $180,000 in  federal                                                               
funds. The  Legislature passed the  state program  that consisted                                                               
of  $500 per  student  in  addition to  the  federal grants.  The                                                               
highest total for the two grants  combined for any of the state's                                                               
original  charters was  $478,000  - a  family partnership  school                                                               
charter out of Anchorage.                                                                                                       
He  said  the   department  had  a  dialogue   with  the  federal                                                               
government and  had talked with  the director of  charter schools                                                               
and floated  a proposal  that gave  charter schools  $150,000 per                                                               
year for the  first four years with a $45,000  grant in the fifth                                                               
year  for a  total  of  $495,000. That  would  easily exceed  the                                                               
combined  grant  of  federal  and  state  that  school  districts                                                               
received   previously.  However,   there  is   no  signed   grant                                                               
agreement, yet, and the application  is due April 28. They should                                                               
know by mid  to late June whether or not  those funds are coming.                                                               
The  charter  school  coordinator  received an  e-mail  from  the                                                               
director,  Dean Kern,  saying  he liked  the  proposal, but  they                                                               
still have to go through the grant application process.                                                                         
SENATOR WILKEN moved to adopt conceptual amendment number 1.                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS objected for discussion  purposes. She asked if the                                                               
Legislature  would evaluate  the federal  funds it  would receive                                                               
each year or just the first year.                                                                                               
MR. JEANS replied  that he understands that  this amendment would                                                               
delay  the repeal  of the  state charter  school grant  until the                                                               
department knows  whether or  not they  have secured  the federal                                                               
funding this  summer. The  effective date  of the  bill as  it is                                                               
currently  written  is  July  1,  2004.  They  currently  have  a                                                               
$158,000  request in  this  year's budget,  which  will make  all                                                               
charter schools whole  under this state program.  He thought that                                                               
Senator Dyson's concern  was if they don't get  the funding, then                                                               
the repeal  date becomes July 1,  2004 and it just  falls off the                                                               
books.  If   they  secure  the   federal  funds  this   year,  he                                                               
understands  that the  state grant  would come  off the  books in                                                               
July 1, 2004.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR DYSON said the fundamental  question that Senator Guess was                                                               
asking  is what  happens  if the  federal funds  go  away in  the                                                               
MR. JEANS replied  that at that point the  Legislature would have                                                               
to  determine  whether they  wanted  to  initiate a  state  grant                                                               
program again.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR DYSON asked what was the length of the federal commitment.                                                                
MR.  JEANS replied  five years  and they  will be  requesting $10                                                               
million in federal start up grants.                                                                                             
SENATOR GUESS  commented that he  had clarified her  question and                                                               
then asked another  about whether he had thought  about putting a                                                               
sunset of five years on the  repeal. She was concerned about what                                                               
would happen  if the  federal funds  and the  start up  funds for                                                               
charter schools both go away.                                                                                                   
MR. JEANS replied  that he did not have any  discussions with the                                                               
administration about a sunset date.                                                                                             
CHAIR DYSON added  that Senators Guess and  Davis had discussions                                                               
with him about a possible task  force to take a much broader look                                                               
at the  whole charter school  business. He thought this  would be                                                               
one of the  things they would look at, but  he, personally, would                                                               
not recommend a sunset right now.                                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN moved to report  CSSB 104(HES) from committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached  fiscal notes. There were                                                               
no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                            
                    SB 121-COMMUNITY SCHOOLS                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced SB 121 to be up for consideration.                                                                        
MR. EDDY  JEANS, School Finance Manager,  Department of Education                                                               
and Early Development  (DEED) spoke to SB 121  and explained that                                                               
it would repeal  the current statutes dealing  with the community                                                               
schools program.  This program has  been in place since  1975 and                                                               
was adopted  to encourage  and assist  local school  districts in                                                               
the  establishment  of  community  schools.  The  intent  of  the                                                               
Legislature was to  provide a program of  community school grants                                                               
to be established  to provide assistance to  local communities in                                                               
the   initial  development,   implementation  and   operation  of                                                               
community school programs.                                                                                                      
He explained  in the early years  this program was funded  at its                                                               
statutory  authorization. For  the last  couple of  years it  has                                                               
been funded at  about $500,000. The department  still thinks that                                                               
community schools are  a viable activity after the  school day is                                                               
over, but they  believe the programs are  already established and                                                               
self  sufficient without  the  state's support.  He  was able  to                                                               
identify   about  $1.4   million   of   total  community   school                                                               
expenditures  of  which  the  state is  providing  about  a  half                                                               
million (less than 7 percent of  the total funding being spent on                                                               
community schools).                                                                                                             
The  application  process is  set  out  in statute,  which  still                                                               
refers  to  the  initial  development   of  a  community  schools                                                               
program.  The administration  and  department  believe that  this                                                               
statute has fulfilled its intended purpose.                                                                                     
SENATOR WILKEN asked him to go over the Fairbanks figures.                                                                      
MR.  JEANS   responded  that   Fairbanks  recorded   $180,000  in                                                               
community  school  expenditures  in  FY02. The  state  grant  was                                                               
$50,000; the state's  support was almost 28 percent  of the total                                                               
expenses. He said the fiscal note  only shows the money that they                                                               
get through the grant program.                                                                                                  
Page 2 of the fiscal  note shows the community schools allocation                                                               
based on  FY04 projections. The  statute says that  districts are                                                               
entitled to one  half of one percent of the  foundation aid state                                                               
support that was provided or  $10,000; whichever is less. He said                                                               
the total  entitlement under  this program  would be  almost $3.3                                                               
million. The Legislature had recommended  funding at $.5 million,                                                               
which would represent  about 15 percent of  the total entitlement                                                               
under FY04 projections.                                                                                                         
CHAIR DYSON asked why the Legislature recommended $500,000.                                                                     
MR. JEANS  replied that he  misspoke and  that was based  on what                                                               
was in the budget last year.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARY  WILKEN said  if  this  legislation were  to  pass,                                                               
Fairbanks would lose $48,688.                                                                                                   
MR. JEANS said that is correct.                                                                                                 
MR. RICK  LANGFITT, Community Schools Coordinator  for the Kodiak                                                               
Island Borough  School District,  said while  the level  of state                                                               
funding may be minimal, that  small amount shows base support for                                                               
the  value  of  community  schools programs.  The  Kodiak  school                                                               
district is  facing a  $2 million budget  shortfall for  the next                                                               
fiscal year and  the community schools program is  one among many                                                               
valuable programs  the district  is considering  for elimination.                                                               
State support for it would  make it harder to justify eliminating                                                               
it  and the  district  would  lose grant  funds  if  it does  not                                                               
provide a program.                                                                                                              
CHAIR DYSON asked him what if  the state said if the local people                                                               
don't care  enough about it to  fund it, we're getting  the wrong                                                               
MR. LANGFITT replied  that the level of funding  Kodiak gets from                                                               
the community schools grant is $10,700  and the rest of the money                                                               
to support  the program, which  totals $70,000, comes  from local                                                               
communities. He maintained:                                                                                                     
     While   we're  looking   to  cut   things,  with   that                                                                    
     additional  state  cut,  it just  makes  it  that  much                                                                    
     harder  to  justify  trying to  come  up  with  another                                                                    
     $10,000 to support a program  when we already have a $2                                                                    
     million shortfall for next year.                                                                                           
MS.  JOYCE  KITKA,  volunteer with  the  Alaska  Association  for                                                               
Community Education (AACE), referred  to information she provided                                                               
the  committee  that  shows what  her  organization  helped  make                                                               
happen in communities. Existing buildings  in 53 out of 53 school                                                               
districts are  being used  on nights and  weekends as  opposed to                                                               
being closed  at the end of  the school day or  year. Over 20,000                                                               
programs and  activities were offered  and over  342,000 activity                                                               
hours were logged,  over 464,000 youth were  served, over 390,000                                                               
adults were  served, over 20,000  different volunteers  logged in                                                               
almost 212,000 hours. She continued:                                                                                            
     ...the National  Association for Partners  in Education                                                                    
     state  that an  average volunteer  is worth  $15.62 per                                                                    
     hour,  if  you  take  that and  multiply  that  by  the                                                                    
     212,000  hours,  we  brought  in  over  $3  million  in                                                                    
     services  from  our  volunteers.  We  think  that's  an                                                                    
     excellent track  record and we  would challenge  you to                                                                    
     find any  other program  in this  state that  serves as                                                                    
     many people on as few state dollars as we get.                                                                             
MS. KITKA responded to the question  of why the program should be                                                               
state driven  for local  people by  saying she  thought it  was a                                                               
partnership and a good faith effort on both parts. She noted:                                                                   
     On Saturday  in House  Finance, it  was referred  to as                                                                    
     being the spark  plug. The $500,000 was  the spark plug                                                                    
     that keeps  these programs going...We do  open gyms. We                                                                    
     will not  deny that. When I  open a gym and  I have 150                                                                    
     kids who are  hanging out there on a  Saturday night, I                                                                    
     know it's meeting a need.                                                                                                  
MS. KITKA concluded by saying:                                                                                                  
     The   Department  of   Education's  mission   statement                                                                    
     addresses  life-long  learning  and yet  they  and  the                                                                    
     governor are  wishing to eliminate the  funding for the                                                                    
     one vehicle that helps promote this.                                                                                       
She said  the Legislature  could choose to  not fund  the program                                                               
right now as it  realizes money is tight, but it  can do that and                                                               
still keep the statute intact.                                                                                                  
MR. LARRY  WIGET, Executive  Director, Public  Affairs, Anchorage                                                               
School District,  said the district does  not support eliminating                                                               
the  community schools  program from  the statute  or eliminating                                                               
the funding. He maintained:                                                                                                     
     According  to  AS  14.36.010(a),  the  purpose  of  the                                                                    
     community schools  is an  expression of  the philosophy                                                                    
     that the  school is a  fine educational  institution of                                                                    
     the  community. It's  most effective  when it  involves                                                                    
     the people of  that community in a  program designed to                                                                    
     fulfill their educational needs.                                                                                           
He  thought   the  law  should   be  changed,  but   rather  than                                                               
eliminating  community schools  from statute,  the intent  of the                                                               
law should be  changed to include ongoing  operation of community                                                               
school programs.                                                                                                                
MS.  DEBBIE   BOGART,  Director,  Community   Education  Program,                                                               
Anchorage  School   District,  said  if  passed,   SB  121  would                                                               
devastate  community  education.  This   program  is  a  valuable                                                               
component  that  contributes  to  the  academic  success  of  our                                                               
students.  It  provides  continuing   education  for  adults  and                                                               
preschool  education for  young  learners.  The community  school                                                               
programs keep  the community involved  in our schools.  It brings                                                               
people without children into the  schools so they know more about                                                               
them. Last year  33,000 youth and 28,000 adults  were involved in                                                               
their programs.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR DYSON asked why the  department has chosen to eliminate the                                                               
statute as well as the funding.                                                                                                 
MR. JEANS  replied that basically  DEED was looking  to eliminate                                                               
the funding,  but the intent of  the program was to  provide seed                                                               
money to  get the programs up  and running, "and they  are up and                                                               
CHAIR DYSON  asked why  they couldn't leave  in language  for the                                                               
start up  of new  programs and  eliminate the  continuous funding                                                               
MR. JEANS  replied that  all 53  school districts  participate in                                                               
this program  and the start  up has occurred. If  the Legislature                                                               
wants to  provide on-going  operational money,  at a  minimum the                                                               
statute needs to be amended to reflect that.                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILKEN   asked  if  school   districts  track   the  net                                                               
expenditure of community schools in the chart of accounts.                                                                      
MR. JEANS replied probably not.                                                                                                 
CHAIR DYSON  called a brief at-ease  and came back on  the record                                                               
to state  the agenda for the  next meeting. He announced  that SB
145 was being held in committee.                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON adjourned the meeting at 2:28 p.m.                                                                                  

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