Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/12/1996 02:10 PM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 229 STATE TRAINING & EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM SENATOR TORGERSON brought SB 229 before the committee as the next order of business. He directed attention to a letter from Rebecca Nance of the Department of Labor providing additional information to the committee on questions raised during the February 7 hearing on the legislation. Number 070 REBECCA NANCE , Director, Division of Employment Security, in response to clarifying administrative costs for accounting and collection, explained that this is a U.S. Department of Labor compliance measure, which mandated that STEP's share for use of the federally funded collection and accounting system was computed to be 19 percent. She added that is 19 percent of the state's employment service tax data collection and accounting. SENATOR KELLY inquired how many people in the department collect these taxes. ARBE WILLIAMS , Director, Administrative Services, Department of Labor, replied that there are 19 positions in the tax section. The federal agreement requires that 19 percent of those total costs are reimbursed in the system. She clarified that the money is not sent back to the federal government; it is used for their internal operations. It allows those supplanted UI dollars in their field offices or in other operations of the Employment Security Division. She further clarified that the STEP program is funded with one-tenth of one percent of employees' contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The trust fund funds the benefit payments process through the Employment Security Division. SENATOR TORGERSON asked if employee/employer contribution ratings that must be posted for the Unemployment Insurance program show that part of the money they are paying is going for administrative costs for accounting and collection. REBECCA NANCE responded that the contribution is lumped together on the form. SENATOR TORGERSON asked that she look into whether it should be listed on the form separately should STEP become a permanent program. Number 200 REBECCA NANCE also clarified that the Employment Security Division received State Employment and Training Program Funds through two Reimbursable Services Agreements (RSAs) with DCRA, which are used for counseling, job seeking skills and employment assistance in local offices. These positions are located in Kenai, Fairbanks, Nome and Ketchikan. In addition, there are two positions in DCRA: one is a grants administrator and one is an internal auditor. Ms. Nance noted that she had provided the committee with an expanded list of contractors with the type of training that was provided from 1990 through 1994. The 1995 list is still not complete because they are waiting on the Fairbanks service delivery area, but she said she could provide the information on the other service delivery areas. SENATOR KELLY questioned if there wasn't a time frame for awarding these grants. Turning to the fiscal note, Ms. Nance said the $252,000 figure is projected for inter-agency transfer to the Department of Labor for Labor Market Information (LMI) so that they can track the program's success and connect it to the UI Trust Fund to see if there is a lesser impact on the trust fund. It also provides for the analysis of the data. SENATOR KELLY commented that it seems to him they are propping up the LMI with STEP money that they are not getting out of the general funds. ARBE WILLIAMS agreed, and added that a couple of years ago $50,000 was cut from their general funds and the Legislature specifically said that $50,000 would come from the STEP fund for analysis and production of the Alaska Resident Hire Report. The $252,000 provides a base for the ability for the department to evaluate not only the STEP program, but also track the success of clients in the JOBS program and the AVTEC program. SENATOR KELLY said it is pretty clear from the clarification of the fiscal note that we are entering some real soft uses for this STEP money; it is getting far beyond training people who are out of jobs. Number 300 SENATOR TORGERSON asked if their formula tracks to the LMI so that the money they allocate to their job training is to the at-risk occupations. ARBE WILLIAMS responded that this is one of the very few programs in the state where they can provide that kind of program evaluation. Number 325 SENATOR TORGERSON said he wouldn't roll the STEP program into some other employment program, but, by his count, there are currently 15 employment programs and he thinks that's too many. He said it is time to start consolidating some of them and doing away with a few positions, and he requested the committee be provided with information on the job programs currently running. There being no further testimony on SB 229, SENATOR TORGERSON stated it would be held in committee for further information, and then adjourned the meeting at 2:37 p.m.