Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/06/2003 01:35 PM Senate L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 192-DOLWD TEACHERS AND TRAINING PROGRAMS CHAIR BUNDE announced SB 192 to be up for consideration. SENATOR GARY STEVENS, sponsor of SB 192, said that the Governor proposed to transfer the Alaska Vocational Tech Center (AVTEC) from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) for the purpose of giving the Department of Labor the authority to employ teachers and allow them to remain members of the Teacher's Retirement System (TRS) rather than having to be transferred to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). It would also allow future teachers to become TRS members. If this bill does not pass, the current teachers at AVTEC would be transferred into the PERS system and out of the TRS system. That wouldn't be fair to employees who were originally hired with the understanding they would be in TRS. It would also have a negative impact on AVTEC when it recruits new teachers. It is advantageous to be able to offer TRS retirement as an incentive to get teachers into any educational institution. Also, SB 192 would clarify that AVTEC and Kotzebue Technical Center will continue to be under the oversight, planning and coordination responsibilities of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board (AWIB) through the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. SENATOR STEVENS moved to adopt the CS to SB 192(L&C), Version D, as the working document. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIR BUNDE clarified that the teachers who have transferred from one department to another would have the same job assignments. SENATOR STEVENS agreed and said the bill has a zero fiscal note. SENATOR SEEKINS said he was wondering about the board's structure. COMMISSIONER GREG O'CLARAY, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the legislature wanted to see vocational training strengthened in Alaska and that's what this bill will do by moving AVTEC from one department to another. It freezes the teachers' benefit structure in place, which must be done by July 1. The Governor believes there are too many boards that aren't being efficient in terms of delivering federal training dollars to employers who are training personnel. The department is very supportive of this bill. CHAIR BUNDE said it would be nice to know if SB 192 will have a negative fiscal note. COMMISSIONER O'CLARAY said DOLWD would save over $300,000. SENATOR FRENCH asked why this legislation is necessary and what would prevent him from hiring a teacher who is currently covered by TRS to work in the Department of Labor. COMMISSIONER O'CLARAY replied that nothing would prevent DOLWD from hiring the teachers, but as state employees they would fall under PERS because of the way the statute is structured. MR. FRED ESPOSITO, Director of AVTEC, testified that many professionals at the institute are mid-career and have invested a lot of service into the TRS system and should be held harmless. The TRS system is an added benefit that AVTEC can use to recruit instructional staff. SENATOR STEVENS asked him to comment on the negative results for teachers if SB 192 doesn't pass by the end of the session. MR. ESPOSITO confirmed [the results will be negative]. MR. DAVE DERUWE, Vice President, AVTEC Teacher's Association, supported SB 192. The Association realizes this change was an unintended consequence of the move to the Department of Labor. Most of the teachers have put in long years working under the TRS system and are not interested in changing to the PERS system. MR. JOHN ALCANTRA, Government Relations Director, National Education Association of Alaska, supported SB 192 for the reasons mentioned. SENATOR SEEKINS moved to pass CSSB 192(L&C), Version D, from committee with the promised fiscal note from the Department of Labor with individual recommendations. SENATORS DAVIS, FRENCH, SEEKINS, STEVENS and BUNDE voted yea and CSSB 192(L&C) passed from committee.