Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/29/1999 03:10 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.