Legislature(2009 - 2010)

2010-01-19 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2010-01-19                     Senate Journal                      Page 1240
SB 224                                                                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 224 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                                               
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                                                           

2010-01-19                     Senate Journal                      Page 1241
          "An Act establishing the governor's performance                                                                       
          scholarship program and relating to the program;                                                                      
          establishing the governor's performance scholarship                                                                   
          fund and relating to the fund; relating to student                                                                    
          records; making conforming amendments; and                                                                            
          providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
was read the first time and referred to the Education and Finance                                                               
The following fiscal information was published today:                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Labor and Workforce                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 2, Department of Revenue                                                                                       
 Fiscal Note No. 3, Department of Education and Early                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 4, Department of Education and Early                                                                           
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 15:                                                                                 
Dear President Stevens,                                                                                                         
Under the authority of Art. III, Sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I                                                         
am transmitting a bill that will create a merit-based scholarship                                                               
program for Alaska high school students who pursue higher education                                                             
in Alaska.                                                                                                                      
This legislation, referred to as the Governor's Performance                                                                     
Scholarship (GPS), is patterned after successful scholarship programs                                                           
in 22 other states. The GPS will improve high school graduation rates,                                                          
prepare students for college or job training, provide Alaskan students                                                          
with affordable opportunities for higher education, sustain Alaska's                                                            
economy with a capable workforce, and retain equipped, hardworking                                                              
Alaskan students.                                                                                                               
This bill provides four tiers of scholarship payment for qualified high                                                         
school graduates. Three of these tiers would be designated for                                                                  
academic scholarships, and the fourth for career and technical school                                                           

2010-01-19                     Senate Journal                      Page 1242
The key feature of the scholarship program is that it is merit-based. All                                                       
students who participate will be required to complete a more rigorous                                                           
high school curriculum consisting of four years of language arts,                                                               
mathematics, and science, and three years of social studies. Students                                                           
will also be evaluated according to standards established for their                                                             
grade-point averages and scores on college entrance or work-ready                                                               
The program will provide an incentive for students to challenge                                                                 
themselves in high school and to graduate. It also provides an impetus                                                          
for schools to enhance curriculum. Studies have shown that students                                                             
who take a rigorous curriculum in high school are more likely to do                                                             
well in college and job training programs. Thus, the scholarship                                                                
recipients will be more likely to achieve their certification or degree.                                                        
Students who achieve the highest attainable grade point average and                                                             
examination scores will be awarded the highest tier of the academic                                                             
scholarship for an Alaska-based college or university. This tier will                                                           
equal the full cost of tuition at an Alaskan university for the 2010-                                                           
2011 school year. The second and third tiers of the academic                                                                    
scholarship will be 75 and 50 percent the amount of respective tuition.                                                         
Students will be eligible for the academic scholarship for a maximum                                                            
of eight semesters. Students who qualify for a career or technical                                                              
school scholarship will receive an award of full fees for training, the                                                         
maximum at $3,000 per year. The career and technical scholarship                                                                
may be used by a student for up to two years.                                                                                   
The GPS will only be accessible to Alaska residents. However, this                                                              
bill will allow that Alaskan military members and their families will                                                           
not lose eligibility on account of their service.                                                                               
The bill will require that money from these scholarships will only be                                                           
spent at qualified Alaska post-secondary institutions or training                                                               
programs. Students educated in the state are more likely to remain in                                                           
the state. This provision encourages our best and brightest young                                                               
people to remain in the state and prepare qualified Alaskan workers                                                             
for Alaskan jobs.                                                                                                               

2010-01-19                     Senate Journal                      Page 1243
The GPS program contains a "use it or lose it" provision: students will                                                         
have a six-year window to apply the scholarship to a postsecondary                                                              
institution. This protects the State of Alaska from an extended liability.                                                      
As previously stated, the bill will provide extensions for Alaskans who                                                         
serve in the military.                                                                                                          
The GPS will be administered by the Alaska Department of Education                                                              
and Early Development, the Department of Labor and Workforce                                                                    
Development, and the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary                                                                         
Education. Regulations will be adopted to govern the program, grade-                                                            
point average standard, eligibility criteria and an appeals process to                                                          
consider extraordinary circumstances. The Alaska Commission on                                                                  
Postsecondary Education will adopt regulations for streamlined                                                                  
application, award, and continuing eligibility standards.                                                                       
Also, this bill will establish a fund whose earnings could be used to                                                           
pay for scholarships. The proposed fund is based on other funds                                                                 
established in statute, such as the Alaska Veterans' Memorial                                                                   
endowment fund, and will be managed by the Department of Revenue.                                                               
Nothing in this bill will establish a dedicated fund.                                                                           
The GPS is modeled after the famous "Taylor plan," established by                                                               
private businessman, Patrick Taylor, to keep students in school and                                                             
motivate them to pursue successful postsecondary education.                                                                     
Currently, twenty-two states have "Taylor like" state-sponsored plans.                                                          
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this bill.                                                                           
Sean Parnell