Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/13/2017 09:00 AM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 37(L&C) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 81(ENE) Out of Committee
Moved SCS CSHB 49(L&C) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
          HB 141-AK WORKFORCE INVESTMENT BOARD; FUNDS                                                                       
9:16:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO announced the consideration  of HB 141. She stated                                                               
that HB  141 reauthorizes the Technical  Vocational and Education                                                               
Program  (TVEP). The  committee heard  the Senate  companion bill                                                               
and public  testimony was held open.  HB 141 will be  the vehicle                                                               
moving forward and public testimony will continue today.                                                                        
9:17:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZACH FANSLER,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor                                                               
of  HB 141,  said his  introduction  would be  brief because  the                                                               
committee  just heard  the Senate  companion, SB  85. Both  bills                                                               
allocate TVEP funds  to the same ten programs.  The University of                                                               
Alaska receives  45 percent of  the funding, the  Galena Interior                                                               
Learning  Academy receives  4  percent,  Alaska Technical  Center                                                               
receives  9  percent,  the  Alaska  Vocational  Technical  Center                                                               
receives  17   percent,  the   Northwestern  Alaska   Career  and                                                               
Technical  Center  receives  3   percent,  the  Southwest  Alaska                                                               
Vocational   Education   Center    receives   3   percent,   Yuut                                                               
Elitnaurviat, Inc.  People's Learning Center receives  9 percent,                                                               
Partners  for  Progress  in  Delta,   Inc.  receives  3  percent,                                                               
Amundsen  Educational Center  receives 2  percent, and  Ilisagvik                                                               
College receives 5 percent.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   FANSLER   said   the    bill   is   a   straight                                                               
reauthorization  of funding  for five  years, whereas  the Senate                                                               
bill  has  a  three-year  reauthorization. The  idea  is  to  put                                                               
Alaskans  to work  in their  own regions.  He explained  that the                                                               
Technical Vocational Education Program  (TVEP) was established in                                                               
2000 and the percentage an  institution receives changes based on                                                               
the number of employees in  the state. Employee contributions are                                                               
.0016  percent  with a  cap  of  $64  per  Alaskan per  year.  He                                                               
described TVEP  as a  critical reauthorization  for the  state to                                                               
move forward putting Alaskans to work.                                                                                          
9:21:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked  why the House bill has  a five-year sunset                                                               
when the Senate version has three years.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE   FANSLER   explained  that   guaranteeing   these                                                               
programs  their current  funding for  five years  allows them  to                                                               
make  long-term  plans that  isn't  possible  under a  three-year                                                               
renewal.  A  second  reason  is   it  will  give  the  Governor's                                                               
taskforce  on Alaska's  Education  Challenge time  to review  all                                                               
aspects  of education  throughout  the state.  All technical  and                                                               
vocational programs  will be  assessed, and  recommendations will                                                               
be  made to  the legislature.  Five years  provides time  for the                                                               
analysis and to determine the appropriate reporting standards.                                                                  
9:24:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked if he  had looked at the administrative and                                                               
overhead costs of each of the grant programs.                                                                                   
9:24:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FANSLER explained that  the costs vary between the                                                               
programs. For example,  the cost for internet and  energy at Yuut                                                               
Elinaurviat, Inc. in  Bethel and Ilisagvik College  in Barrow are                                                               
vastly  different than  the  costs at  the  University of  Alaska                                                               
Anchorage. In  part the  funds are  used to  offset the  price of                                                               
broadband service  or energy costs in  these areas as a  means of                                                               
helping to provide lower cost trainings.                                                                                        
9:26:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked  if he is satisfied with  the program costs                                                               
and the training they provide.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER  said yes,  although  there  is room  for                                                               
improvement.  He opined  that Alaska's  Education Challenge  will                                                               
ensure that  the taskforce will  look at needed  efficiencies. He                                                               
directed attention  to the TVEP  report that shows that  the goal                                                               
of getting  Alaskans into  the workforce  is being  met. Regional                                                               
needs  are  also  being  met.   He  stressed  the  importance  of                                                               
continuing  to  serve  the  needs of  the  regional  centers  and                                                               
providing the training needed for the region.                                                                                   
9:28:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  asked  where the  Amundsen  Education  Center  is                                                               
9:28:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FANSLER replied it's in Soldotna.                                                                                
SENATOR  MEYER  asked  where most  SAVEC  and  Yuut  Elitnaurviat                                                               
graduates go to work.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER  said they  go  to  work in  construction                                                               
jobs, heavy  equipment, truck  driving, and  through partnerships                                                               
with   aviation    services   and   other   programs    such   as                                                               
photojournalism,  wind   turbine  maintenance,   and  alternative                                                               
energy. He stressed the importance  of including maintenance when                                                               
spending money on large infrastructure projects.                                                                                
9:30:56 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER mentioned  that funding for NACTEC  was reduced due                                                               
to private  sector support  from the  Red Dog  Mine. He  asked if                                                               
programs in District 38 receive private sector funding.                                                                         
9:31:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER said  he believes  that all  the programs                                                               
charge tuition and partner with  local programs. In his district,                                                               
Yuut Elitnaurviat,  Inc. People's  Learning Center  partners with                                                               
the major  local school district  and the  Yukon-Kuskokwim Health                                                               
Corporation  to  train  future dental  assistants  and  certified                                                               
nursing  assistants  throughout  the region.  He  described  TVEP                                                               
funding as  vital but not  the only  way that these  programs are                                                               
9:34:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER asked if students pay tuition.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FANSLER  said yes,  but TVEP  funds help  to close                                                               
the  gap to  ensure that  people do  receive training  in regions                                                               
where classes would otherwise be very expensive.                                                                                
9:35:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO  commented on the  value of training  Alaskans for                                                               
the  workforce. She  noted that  while  the Amundsen  Educational                                                               
Center  has 15-20  partners and  the students  pay tuition,  TVEP                                                               
still supplies about $14,000 per  student. She expressed interest                                                               
in looking at  the variety of programs and the  amount of funding                                                               
going to  each program, because  some areas are not  getting TVEP                                                               
support. She pointed out that  the state chooses who receives the                                                               
funding  and the  performance  reports  sometimes lack  important                                                               
She asked Greg Cashen to  address a letter the committee received                                                               
today that explains the lack  of occupational reporting from some                                                               
TVEP recipients.                                                                                                                
GREG  CASHEN,  Deputy  Commissioner,   Department  of  Labor  and                                                               
Workforce Development,  read the following response  to questions                                                               
about why  30 participants  were in  an occupational  category of                                                               
unknown or unavailable:                                                                                                         
     The occupation data used  the department's Research and                                                                    
     Analysis  (R&A)  team  comes  from  quarterly  employer                                                                    
     unemployment  insurance  filings.   Not  all  employers                                                                    
     report  the occupations  for  their  employees or  call                                                                    
     these occupations the same thing.  This requires R&A to                                                                    
     follow  up  with  employers   to  collect  the  missing                                                                    
     information  or to  get a  better understanding  of the                                                                    
     work performed so that they  can assign the employee to                                                                    
     a  nationally recognized  occupation. There  are always                                                                    
     some   occupations  that   Research  and   Analysis  is                                                                    
     unsuccessful in categorizing, unfortunately.                                                                               
     It is critical for the  committee to understand what is                                                                    
     and is  not included  in the employment  data available                                                                    
     to   Research  and   Analysis.  Since   they  rely   on                                                                    
     unemployment  insurance  reports,  they are  unable  to                                                                    
     capture  federal,  military  or  self-employment.  Many                                                                    
     individuals  in   the  construction  trades   work  for                                                                    
     themselves,  and fishing  is  also  a very  significant                                                                    
     employment   category   in    some   of   these   rural                                                                    
     communities,  which   is  not  captured.  It   is  also                                                                    
     important for the  committee to know that  based on the                                                                    
     wording  of  the  statutory performance  measures  they                                                                    
     only report  employment and wages of  TVEP participants                                                                    
     seven to 12  months after they exit  the program. Since                                                                    
     TVEP runs  on the  state fiscal  year, this  would mean                                                                    
     January-June  and  TVEP  participants could  have  been                                                                    
     employed  and earned  wages earlier  in  the year,  but                                                                    
     they are not captured.                                                                                                     
     Also, the average wages reported  are for six months so                                                                    
     they would represent only half  of what the individuals                                                                    
     may  have made  over the  full  year, which  is why  we                                                                    
     provided   an   "annualized"   average  wage   in   our                                                                    
     presentation.  If  these  individuals are  employed  in                                                                    
     seasonal occupations  they may  have only worked  a few                                                                    
     of  the six  months  collected, which  brings down  the                                                                    
     overall average.                                                                                                           
9:40:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. CASHEN  said what it comes  down to is that  DOLWD's Research                                                               
and  Analysis Section  is somewhat  limited  in categorizing  the                                                               
employment data.                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO asked if high  school students who are enrolled in                                                               
TVEP programs  but not  really employed account  for some  of the                                                               
"n/a" category.                                                                                                                 
9:40:57 AM                                                                                                                    
PALOMA  HARBOUR, Director,  Division of  Administrative Services,                                                               
Department of Labor and  Workforce Development (DOLWD), clarified                                                               
that the  letter responds  to two  separate questions.  The first                                                               
was  about the  30  participants whose  occupations  were in  the                                                               
unknown  or unavailable  category.  That is  about employers  not                                                               
reporting occupation information and  the department being unable                                                               
to  identify  occupations  for   those  individuals.  The  second                                                               
question  asked why  there was  no employment  data for  students                                                               
from  the  Galena  Interior  Learning  Academy  (GILA).  That  is                                                               
because they are  high school students and  the department didn't                                                               
have  the  information  needed to  match  with  the  unemployment                                                               
insurance data.                                                                                                                 
9:42:21 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   MEYER  asked   if  the   commercial  fishing   industry                                                               
contributes to local colleges like Ilisagvik.                                                                                   
MS.  HARBOUR  recalled  that  during  the  previous  hearing  the                                                               
representative   from  the   Southwest   Alaska  Vocational   and                                                               
Education Center (SAVEC) reported that  they have been working on                                                               
a  partnership  with the  seafood  processors  in their  area  to                                                               
improve Alaska hire.                                                                                                            
MR.  CASHEN  added  that  he   believes  some  of  the  Community                                                               
Development  Quota  (CDQ)  Program   groups  also  contribute  to                                                               
training centers in that region.                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER said  he didn't recall hearing  about a partnership                                                               
between the seafood industry and  these schools, but it's good to                                                               
9:43:28 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES joined the committee.                                                                                            
CHAIR   COSTELLO   stated   that    public   testimony   on   the                                                               
reauthorization  of   the  Technical  Vocational   and  Education                                                               
Program will continue.                                                                                                          
9:43:55 AM                                                                                                                    
DON ETHERIDGE,  Lobbyist, Alaska  AFL-CIO, stated that  the union                                                               
does not receive  any TVEP funds, but has been  supportive of the                                                               
program since its inception. He  addressed why some programs like                                                               
King Career and  Hutchison are not included in  TVEP. He recalled                                                               
that the programs  initially received general funds  and were not                                                               
considered when TVEP started since they were already funded.                                                                    
He  recalled the  history of  TVEP and  concluded that  the union                                                               
likes  to see  Alaskans  taking Alaskan  jobs  and TVEP  training                                                               
makes that  possible. He  highly recommended  the reauthorization                                                               
of the TVEP funding.                                                                                                            
9:46:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS REITAN,  Superintendent, Galena School  District, testified                                                               
in support  of HB  141. He  informed the  committee of  the seven                                                               
career  pathways  the  Galena Interior  Learning  Academy  (GILA)                                                               
offers  students attending  the boarding  school. These  include:                                                               
pathways to aviation, construction  trades, media and information                                                               
technology,  cosmetology,  natural resource  management,  applied                                                               
mechanics,  and  health  sciences.   He  related  that  GILA  has                                                               
developed  career  pathways that  have  both  a rural  and  urban                                                               
influence. Thus, graduates  have the option of  returning home to                                                               
work or  moving on to  the university system or  to postsecondary                                                               
vocational training.  He reported  that 169 high  school students                                                               
participated  in the  dual credit  tech prep  system through  the                                                               
University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks  and  received  473  university                                                               
credits.   The  total   savings  for   these  students   as  they                                                               
transitioned  into either  a university  postsecondary vocational                                                               
program or an academic program was $90,000.                                                                                     
He highlighted that  TVEP funding has allowed the  City of Galena                                                               
and the  school district to  develop both a woody  biomass boiler                                                               
system  that  serves  the  GILA campus  and  a  natural  resource                                                               
program. The natural resources program  has two courses that were                                                               
established in conjunction with UAF.  He spoke in full support of                                                               
reauthorizing  the TVEP  funding.  It is  a  primary reason  that                                                               
students are choosing to attend the GILA boarding school.                                                                       
9:50:12 AM                                                                                                                    
DANIEL  REPASKY, Chief  of Operations  & Deputy  Director, Alaska                                                               
Vocational Technical  Education Center (AVTEC) stated  that AVTEC                                                               
is a  grateful recipient of  TVEP funds. They receive  17 percent                                                               
of the funds, which represents  about 14 percent of their overall                                                               
budget. The  money is used  to enhance the training  of Alaskans.                                                               
He reported  that about 90  percent of AVTEC students  complete a                                                               
10-month  program  and  between  88   and  90  percent  of  those                                                               
graduates  are  employed in  the  field  in which  they  received                                                               
training.  AVTEC partners  with many  organizations that  receive                                                               
TVEP funds. As those students  become proficient in their fields,                                                               
they transition to AVTEC for  further training. He said this year                                                               
alone, over 500  high school students have visited  AVTEC and 134                                                               
Alaskans  have   enrolled  in   both  long-term   and  short-term                                                               
programs. About 1,100 students graduate  AVTEC each year, leaving                                                               
with  certifications   that  are   highly  valued   by  employers                                                               
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
He highlighted that TVEP is  the backbone for AVTEC's maintenance                                                               
department.  Continued  funding is  vital  and  would be  greatly                                                               
appreciated, he concluded.                                                                                                      
9:52:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS asked  if  he is  prepared  to provide  relevant                                                               
training for students, should a gas pipeline be built.                                                                          
9:53:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. REPASKY  said yes, we  are prepared. He explained  that AVTEC                                                               
offers a combination welding program.                                                                                           
SENATOR  STEVENS said  he understands  that building  a pressured                                                               
gasline is a complex process.                                                                                                   
MR.  REPASKY advised  that AVTEC  students take  a one-inch  bend                                                               
test and are also certified in x-ray welding.                                                                                   
SENATOR GARDNER  commented that she  enjoys the note of  pride in                                                               
Mr. Repasky's voice when he talks about being ready.                                                                            
9:54:33 AM                                                                                                                    
JOEY CRUM,  President & CEO, Northern  Industrial Training (NIT),                                                               
related that  he has been  a professional vocational  trainer for                                                               
over  15  years  and  is  a staunch  advocate  of  efficient  and                                                               
effective vocational education. However,  he has concerns with HB
141 and SB 85.                                                                                                                  
He  voiced concern  that TVEP  is supposed  to provide  access to                                                               
technical   and   vocational   education,  but   there   are   no                                                               
requirements as to what the funds  are used for, and there are no                                                               
standards to  define success. The  lack of statutory  guidance is                                                               
illustrated  in the  TVEP reports  that show  a preponderance  of                                                               
graduates   trained   in   office  and   administrative   support                                                               
occupations.  That  is  neither   technical  nor  vocational.  He                                                               
maintained that  the varied and  inconsistent reporting  does not                                                               
demonstrate a statewide plan. Furthermore,  there are cases where                                                               
the funds  were spent on  regulatory safety classes instead  of a                                                               
skill-building curriculum.                                                                                                      
MR. CRUM highlighted  that the Department of  Labor and Workforce                                                               
Development (DOLWD)  testified that  schools are not  compared to                                                               
determine who is  successful and who is not. He  posited that the                                                               
lack of  reporting guidelines leads to  institutions holding back                                                               
data because  they don't know  what others will or  won't report.                                                               
He  cited  the  Amundsen  Educational Center  as  an  example  of                                                               
outrageous costs  to train only  17 people. By  comparison, AVTEC                                                               
reported training 1,490  people for about one-tenth  the cost. He                                                               
said  that  sounds  nefarious  but  AVTEC  reported  their  total                                                               
enrollment, not just TVEP students. He cited his source.                                                                        
MR.  CRUM spoke  of  his experience  working  with programs  that                                                               
report data accurately.  He then pointed out the  TVEP report the                                                               
committee  received  doesn't include  the  minimal  data that  AS                                                               
23.15.835 requires institutions  to report or lose  20 percent of                                                               
their funding the following year.  He also noted the inconsistent                                                               
explanations about  why secondary  student data  isn't available.                                                               
He  said the  committee also  heard that  private schools  aren't                                                               
named  in  TVEP  even  though both  Amundsen  and  Ilisagvik  are                                                               
10:01:04 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  CRUM summarized  the  three  points he  made  and urged  the                                                               
committee to  make two  changes to HB  141. First,  prohibit TVEP                                                               
monies  from  being  spent on  capital  projects  or  facilities.                                                               
Second, add a  provision to limit all  administrative spending to                                                               
2 percent  of the funds awarded.  He also urged the  committee to                                                               
adopt the Senate's [three-year] sunset.                                                                                         
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Mr. Crum to submit his comments in writing.                                                                
MR. CRUM agreed to do so.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  STEVENS requested  Mr. Crum  repeat his  recommendations                                                               
and Mr. Crum did so.                                                                                                            
10:03:04 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES  asked Mr. Crum  if he has suggestions  to correct                                                               
inconsistent reporting.                                                                                                         
MR.  CRUM  said   he  recommends  the  TVEP   report  follow  the                                                               
guidelines set in statute. He added  that the state needs to come                                                               
up with  standards defining what  success looks like. He  gave an                                                               
SENATOR   HUGHES  said   she   would   appreciate  seeing   those                                                               
recommendations in writing.                                                                                                     
CHAIR COSTELLO  stated she  would hold HB  141 in  committee with                                                               
public testimony open.  She said this will give  DOLWD the chance                                                               
to  respond to  any of  the concerns  that were  brought up.  She                                                               
specifically  asked  if  there have  been  consequences  for  not                                                               
meeting the statutory reporting requirements.                                                                                   

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