Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/29/1999 03:10 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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HJR 6 - CONST. AM:  EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the next order of business is House Joint                                                               
Resolution 6, Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State                                                             
of Alaska relating to state aid for education.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1926                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT noted that he has provided a copy of the comments                                                                 
from the law firm Josephson and Associates regarding the                                                                        
constitutionality of the proposed constitutional amendment.  He                                                                 
found the comments somewhat interesting, but he doesn't believe                                                                 
that if this amendment was adopted it would not be a violation of                                                               
church and state separation provisions since similar vouchers have                                                              
been incorporated at the municipal level around the country.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1980                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG made a motion to move HJR 6 from the                                                                    
committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal                                                               
note(s).                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT noted that there is a $1,500 fiscal note.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT objected.  The $1,500 fiscal note does not                                                                 
come close to reflecting the cost of such a program to the school                                                               
systems.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2060                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT echoed the concern of Representative Croft.  However,                                                             
from a legal standpoint he doesn't find anything ... From a public                                                              
policy standpoint he has problems with it, but it clearly meets the                                                             
intent of the constitution.  It would require a lot of convincing,                                                              
however, before he would vote for it on the House floor.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2099                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that he is in favor of the concept,                                                              
but how it is accomplished and carried out is a huge issue.                                                                     
Nevertheless, the House Judiciary Standing Committee has done its                                                               
job and has met its responsibilities.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2133                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT stated there was a lot of discussion in regards to                                                                
the funding, the provisions of any subsequent legislation, and the                                                              
parameters placed on private institutions.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2164                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that it would be relatively                                                                      
impossible for the electorate to consider the amendment without                                                                 
seeing an outline or design of the statutory backup in order to see                                                             
the ramifications.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2206                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT noted it would be a massive change to the state                                                                   
education system.  Really, the jury is still out on those                                                                       
communities who have tried a voucher system; he is not convinced,                                                               
therefore, it would work at this point.  Until he is convinced                                                                  
otherwise, he would not be supporting a voucher system.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2246                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated she's not convinced that the language                                                               
in the proposed constitutional amendment is what she would like.                                                                
She doesn't have a problem with a prohibition on direct funding to                                                              
a religious school, but she has a problem with a child not having                                                               
some money to go somewhere else to school.  She disagrees with the                                                              
idea of having a statute outlined beforehand because one can't be                                                               
passed unless the constitutional amendment has passed.                                                                          
Furthermore, the funding of education should consider every                                                                     
schoolage child in a district.  How the money is spent is the next                                                              
issue.  She said, "I don't think that the whole amount of money                                                                 
divided by the kids would go with the kid, but I think a certain                                                                
portion of it would.  Maybe a thousand or fifteen hundred bucks or                                                              
something would do that.  And, I wish that I had more confidence in                                                             
charter schools, but I think they're limited pretty much by the                                                                 
statutes that we've provided.  Charter schools might provide the                                                                
information that we need that would eliminate a lot of private                                                                  
schools.  But somehow or another I do not believe that the public                                                               
schools fully support all of the needs of all of the kids and they                                                              
need to have some options and we should be helping to give them                                                                 
that option."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2416                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT stated certainly there could have been legislation                                                                
crafted to accompany the resolution, which could have included an                                                               
effectuation depending on the passage of the resolution.                                                                        
Nevertheless, the House Judiciary Standing Committee did its best                                                               
with the information available, and from a constitutional                                                                       
standpoint...                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-46, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said, "...I mean we've had a lot of                                                                     
hearings on other pieces of legislation that don't rise to this                                                                 
level of concern, so I'm not comfortable that it does.  I'd much                                                                
prefer to be able to flush that out, understand it better."                                                                     
Fundamentally, she further stated there is enough money to fund                                                                 
education, but the legislature is not doing it and this would not                                                               
help any.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0049                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated he understands why a parent would want                                                              
to send his/her child to a different school.  But he wouldn't want                                                              
to be charged anymore than what he is being charged now.  "Whether                                                              
or not I select then to send my child to somewhere else I don't                                                                 
know that it's necessarily the right thing to do to say instead of                                                              
funding there I want you to fund him at my choice.  There I'm                                                                   
having a real fundamental problem and so I will support moving it                                                               
from here because I agree with you [Chairman Kott] it does stand                                                                
the gaff of the legal portion.  I have a lot of problems with it."                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KOTT called for a roll call vote.  Representatives Green,                                                              
Rokeberg, James and Kott voted in favor of the motion.                                                                          
Representatives Croft and Kerttula voted against the motion.  The                                                               
motion passed by a vote of 4-2.  House Joint Resolution 6 was so                                                                
moved from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                              

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