Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/27/1996 01:20 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL 301 "An Act relating to postsecondary education." DIANE BARRANS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION COMMISSION, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, spoke to the fiscal note attached to the Executive Order (EO) which indicates a reduction in costs because the Commission would be eliminated. What was not included in the Executive Order was information that the Department of Education (DOE) has a pending RSA for $40 thousand dollars. DOE backed that amount out of their proposed FY97 budget and the fiscal note provided by the Department of Revenue represents that amount. Representative Brown MOVED to adopt Amendment #1, 9- LS1749\K.2, Ford, 4/26/96. Ms. Barrans explained that the amendment would eliminate the Commission and would move the regulation of the post secondary institutions to the Department of Education as a department function and would also provide the needed technical corrections. She reiterated that the amendment would eliminate the separation of power issue, which was of concern to the Administration. Representative Mulder asked if Amendment #1 would be comparable to the Executive Order. Ms. Barrans stated it would. Representative Mulder OBJECTED to Amendment #1. A roll call was taken on the MOTION. IN FAVOR: Brown. OPPOSED: Kelly, Kohring, Martin, Mulder, Parnell, Therriault. Representative Grussendorf, Navarre, Hanley and Foster were not present for the vote. The MOTION FAILED (1-6). 13 Representative Parnell MOVED to adopt Amendment #2, 9- LS1749\K.1, Ford, 4/25/96, for purposes of discussion. Representative Brown OBJECTED. Ms. Barrans noted that the Commission has been supportive of the WAMI program and that the amendment would reinstate it. She pointed out that it was a low cost program to administer. WENDY REDMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA, understood Representative Bunde's intent in the amendment to move the WAMI program to a new base. She acknowledged that the University was willing to work with him on that concern. Ms. Redman advised that the WAMI program is a major public policy question that the State of Alaska needs to deal with. It is an expensive program, although, it is not an expensive program as an alternative to medical school. The University of Washington sets aside ten seats for Alaskans. The policy issue needs to be determined by the Legislature if the intent is to provide for rural doctors. She recommended establishing an interim committee to pursue the concerns. Ms. Redman objected to Amendment #2 as proposed. It would place into the University budget, the money for the years 2, 3 and 4 as part of the program. She pointed out that this was not part of the University of Alaska's program; it is a straight pass through to the University of Washington. It would inflate the University of Alaska's budget. Representative Brown asked where the first year funding would come from. Ms. Redman replied all first year funding is contained in the UAA budget. The students attend UAA for the first year and then go to the University of Washington for the next three years. Representative Therriault asked some ideas which could attract students to rural Alaska. Ms. Redman stated that there are some states which pay a flat amount of money enticing doctors into rural areas. Other states pay back the student loans. These systems do work and would be cheaper than the current system used in Alaska under the WAMI program. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE commented that the driving force behind the WAMI program was UAA. They want the program. He thought it would be advisable to consolidate the funding into one entity. Representative Martin noted that he did not believe that anyone from the University "desperately" wanted this program. 14 Ms. Redman corrected that Representative Bunde had been referring to the maintenance of the first year budget at the University of Alaska. She added that this was a high priority for UAA. The residency program currently being implemented at the Anchorage hospital would not exist if it were not for the WAMI program participation. The University does not want the funding responsibility for years 2, 3 and 4. In response to Representative Brown's question, Ms. Redman noted that forty students per year are participating in the WAMI program. Ten from each class. The cost is $2 million dollars; emphasizing that it is a very expensive program. Representative Brown suggested adding a Letter of Intent to attach to the legislation. Representative Kohring voiced his support of the amendment. Representative Bunde thought that since years 2, 3 and 4 were at the University of Washington, that would be the ideal place to have the funding located. A roll call was taken on the MOTION. IN FAVOR: Kohring, Kelly. OPPOSED: Martin, Mulder, Parnell, Therriault, Brown. Representatives Navarre, Grussendorf, Hanley and Foster were not present for the vote. The MOTION FAILED (2-7). Representative Mulder noted that it was his intent to support the Letter of Intent to further investigate alternatives. Representative Martin MOVED to report CS SB 301 (FIN)am out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the attached fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CS SB 301 (FIN)am was reported out of Committee with "no recommendation" and with fiscal notes by the Department of Revenue dated 4/19/96, two from the Alaska Post Secondary Commission dated 4/02/96 and 4/19/96 and two by the Department of Education dated 4/19/96 and a zero fiscal note by the Alaska Postsecondary Commission.