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28th Legislature(2013-2014)

Committee Minutes


HOUSE EDUCATION
Feb 22, 2013

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	               HJR 1-CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                           

8:01:44 AM

CHAIR GATTIS announced that the only order of business would be
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1, Proposing amendments to the
Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to state aid for
education.

8:02:26 AM

The committee took a brief at-ease.

8:03:57 AM

REPRESENTATIVE WES KELLER, Alaska State Legislature, speaking as
the sponsor, stated that proposed HJR 1 would give Alaskans the
opportunity to vote to amend the Alaska State Constitution to
include the statement: "nothing in this section shall prevent
payment from public funds for the direct educational benefit of
students as provided by law." He offered his belief that a vote
against HJR 1 would state that a person did not want to allow
Alaskans to decide whether that sentence should be included, or
would be an attempt at preventing Alaskans from making this
decision. Directing attention to page 1, lines 8 - 11, he
pointed out that HJR 1 would also delete the following: "No
money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of
any religious or other private educational institution."

8:05:29 AM

JIM POUND, Staff, Representative Wes Keller, Alaska State
Legislature, stated that HJR 1 "moves Alaska's education system
forward. It eliminates a federal mandate." He offered his
belief that this was in response to an Alaska Supreme Court
interpretation to not permit state funding to a private or
religious school. He assessed that HJR 1 was a request to
Alaskans for whether "they want to expand educational
opportunities from K through 16." He suggested that other bills
had supported needs based scholarships and academic
scholarships, which all went to the University of Alaska. He
stated, "There's nothing wrong with the University of Alaska,
but in many cases, these students want to have options to go
somewhere else." He assured the committee that HJR 1 would put
those options to the voters in Alaska, and would "not make any
decisions, today, having to do with public funding." He stated
that the proposed resolution was not a voucher bill, and was not
a parent or school choice legislation. He offered his
interpretation that it would not bankrupt the public school
system because it would create competition, and that it was not
discriminatory. He stated that the proposed resolution only did
one thing, it "puts the vote before the Alaska people to decide
if their legislature, and then this legislature can decide,
later on, whether there's school choice, parent choice,
vouchers, or whatever you wanna call them."

8:07:42 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked how many times the Alaska State
Constitution had been amended.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER replied that he did not have that
information, and suggested that there were people on line
waiting to testify.

8:08:23 AM

CHAIR GATTIS asked to clarify that the proposed resolution only
asked the Alaskan voters "if it's okay."

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER replied "that's exactly right. That's all
it's about." In response to a further question from Chair
Gattis, he said that approval of the resolution would not create
education vouchers or scholarships, that it would only allow
Alaskans to decide whether this sentence should be included in
the Alaska State Constitution: "nothing in this section shall
prevent payment from public funds for the direct educational
benefit of students as provided by law."

8:09:01 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON called attention to the committee that the
proposed resolution also deleted language, which he read: "No
money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of
any religious or other private educational institution." He
stated that a vote for the proposed resolution would express
agreement that money could be paid to religious and private
educational institutions.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER opined that the aforementioned sentence,
which would be deleted by the proposed resolution, was "outside
of the scope of a lot of discussion anyway on this bill," and he
reiterated that the proposed resolution only added the sentence:
"nothing in this section shall prevent payment from public funds
for the direct educational benefit of students as provided by
law."

8:10:36 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified that the proposed resolution
allowed insertion of some language and deletion of other
language. He emphasized that it was not possible to vote for
half the resolution.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER expressed his agreement.

8:12:02 AM

CHAIR GATTIS asked if approval of the proposed resolution would
create a school voucher or scholarship program.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER replied that it would not.

8:12:11 AM

REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND stated that an assumption from the
removal of the text on page 1, lines 8-10, would be that "money
from public funds shall be paid for the direct benefit of
religious or other private educational institutions." She asked
about the source of funding to pay the several million dollars
in additional tuition for the 2500 students in Anchorage who
currently attended a private or religious school.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER replied that the proposed resolution did
not appropriate or spend funds, and did not presume that money
shall be spent. He assessed that the only cost from the
proposed resolution would be to print the ballots.

REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND offered her belief, "that appears to be
skirting the issue, Mr. Keller." She expressed an assumption
that deletion of the text would allow money to be paid to the
private or religious institutions. She repeated her request for
the source of tuition funding, as it was necessary to "consider
the down line implications of a positive vote on this
constitutional amendment."

8:13:53 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER endorsed that the application and
presumption by Representative Drummond was not valid,
maintaining that the proposed resolution "does not do that."

CHAIR GATTIS opened public testimony and stated that any written
testimony would be included in the official record.

8:15:04 AM

KEVIN MCGEE, stating that he was the parent of three children
who had graduated from the Anchorage School District, declared
his opposition to proposed HJR 1. He described the educational
careers of his three children and said that he did not see a
reason to change the Alaska State Constitution. He opined that
private school tuition should be paid by parents.

8:17:55 AM

TOM FINK stated his support for proposed HJR 1, offering his
belief that, as the school system in Alaska was "broken," this
would remove the major obstacle for correction of the system.
He said that the legislature was limited to funding public
schools, rather than funding the education of Alaska's children.
He stated that passage of this proposed resolution would allow
the legislature to "answer the educational needs of our
children." He offered his belief that the primary opposition to
the proposed resolution was the National Education Association
(NEA), in order to protect "their own power structure, not for
the education of our children."

8:19:45 AM

DENNIS FRADLEY, referring to both the United States Constitution
and the Alaska State Constitution, stated that direct government
support for religious institutions was prohibited and that the
proposed resolution did not alter that prohibition. He
expressed his support for HJR 1 and referenced the options for
school choice that existed in other states. He offered his
belief that competition between public and private schools would
make the schools better in Alaska.

8:22:09 AM

KATHLEEN SQUIRES stated her support for HJR 1, and described her
limited choices as the parent of a child with special needs.
She opined that the public should be allowed to decide whether
to fund the educational system.

8:24:28 AM

LADAWN DRUCE, Vice President, National Education Association
(NEA) Alaska, stated that NEA Alaska opposed proposed HJR 1.
She declared that "children are our special interest." She
pointed out that Alaska had both school and program choice in
the public schools, with many school districts offering a
variety of alternatives. She said that the proposed resolution
would allow public funds to go to private or religious schools.
Directing attention to the concept of competition to improve the
public schools, she declared that there was not any evidence to
support this. She referred to the educational summit in
Anchorage, which had reported that the majority of demand for
choice was within the public school system. She declared that a
voucher system would not lead to higher student achievement, and
directed attention to two examples included with her submitted
written testimony. She suggested a variety of funding needs for
the schools. She declared that NEA Alaska was committed to
great public education for every child, and was working to
ensure a quality, qualified teacher in every classroom. She
emphasized that Alaska did not need to change its constitution,
rather, to work together to improve the public schools, educate
the children, and strengthen the communities.

8:26:35 AM

DREW BAKER stated that "our country has a history of opposing
monopolies, and they do it for a reason." He declared that
competition would make our economy stronger, and that he
supported proposed HJR 1, in opposition to "the monopoly of the
public school."

8:27:26 AM

JENNIE HAMMOND offered her belief that parents had the
responsibility to choose the best education for their children.
She shared that her children went to a private school. She
declared her support for proposed HJR 1.

8:28:52 AM

LON GARRISON, Member, Sitka School Board, stated his opposition
and concern for proposed HJR 1. He emphasized that the framers
of the Alaska State Constitution understood the value and
necessity for offering every student in the state the
opportunity for a quality public education. He expressed that
the foundation of democracy resided in the ability to educate
the population. He assessed that the theory for competition in
the schools to bring improvement was na´ve and incorrect. He
argued that this proposed resolution would, instead, create
segregation of the haves and have nots. He asked what oversight
would exist for the appropriate use of public funds. He asked
if every private school would be required to accept and provide
the opportunities demanded by state and federal law for any
child, no matter what their impairment. He questioned the idea
that competition among schools would result in greater student
achievement, as public schools had to work within the boundaries
of negotiated agreements for salary and benefits. He suggested
other means for attaining student achievement, and offered his
belief that these issues were not central to the proposed
resolution.

8:31:24 AM

JOSHUA DECKER, Attorney, ACLU of Alaska, stated that ACLU Alaska
was in opposition to proposed HJR 1. He said that the framers
of the Alaska State Constitution had "squarely confronted this
issue, and directly rejected it." He noted that the proposed
resolution did not change either federal or Alaska statute which
prohibited direct funding to private religious institutions. He
voiced caution for the funding of private, secular schools as
these schools needed to abide by the non-discrimination laws,
which included physical or mental disabilities.

8:33:22 AM

LANCE ROBERTS stated his support for proposed HJR 1, saying that
tax payers should not be required to support public schools
while paying more money in the form of tuition to a private
school. He specified that the proposed resolution would give
parents a choice and give the legislature the tools to allow
competition, which he opined would have great results. He
declared that the public should be allowed to vote on this
issue.

8:35:06 AM

RON ARNOLD, Representative, Educational Support Staff
Association (ESSA), stated his opposition to proposed HJR 1,
pointing to data which verified the lack of success from
competition. He stressed the importance of improving public
education with support for greater involvement and greater
teachers; however, it was not necessary to make a change to the
constitution.

8:37:19 AM

ZEBULAN WOODMAN stated his opposition to HJR 1 as it would
subsidize private schools, while allowing operation outside the
state laws for public schools. He said that vouchers took money
from public school classrooms, and gave it to "for profit,
education corporations, private school operators, and religious
organizations." He offered his belief that the voucher system
was a way to privatize schools, with exemptions to state and
federal laws. He indicated that free market principles were
already working for the school system, and that it did not need
government intervention. He pointed out that fixed costs at
public schools would not be decreased with the use of vouchers.
He asked if all applicable federal laws for construction and
maintenance would also apply to private schools.

8:40:01 AM

ANDY HOLLEMAN stated his opposition to proposed HJR 1. He said
that competition through school vouchers could lead to the
opening of a system of schools that "many Anchorage students can
never hope to attend." He opined that this would enable a
segregated school system.

8:41:06 AM

JERRY COVEY, Education and Non-Profit Consultant, stated his
support for proposed HJR 1, as he believed in expansion of the
options for the delivery of education to better meet the needs
of students, parents, and employers. He offered his belief that
an increase to the competition within the education system would
translate to improved education for students. He opined that
school choice should be a fundamental right for every parent,
although it was currently prohibited. He lamented that
thousands of schools experienced low achievement and low rates
of graduation, and that the only choice available for many
students was a failing school. He acknowledged that it was an
unknown for what the school system would look like if the public
approved the proposed resolution; however, he opined that it
would spark a comprehensive examination of the public education
system.

8:43:21 AM

TUCKERMAN BABCOCK stated his support for HJR 1 and discussed the
schooling for his eight children. He offered his belief that
this was an issue of freedom, and that the current school system
was a monopoly and a bureaucracy. He asked why freedom of
choice for public school was denied.

8:44:37 AM

DOUG HODGES stated his support for proposed HJR 1. He voiced
his desire for improvement to the quality of the schools, an end
to the monopoly of public schools, and freedom of choice for
schools. He endorsed competition among schools.

8:45:20 AM

TAMMY SMITH, Fairbanks Education Association (FEA), established
that Alaskan parents had the opportunity to choose programs in
the public schools that met their child's needs, either through
public charter schools or open enrollment. She declared that it
was not necessary to change the Alaska State Constitution. She
pointed to data for voucher programs, which indicated that these
programs were underperforming the public schools. She declared
that voucher schools, in most instances, choose the students,
not the other way around, which left out the students with
learning disabilities and other needs.

8:47:45 AM

TOYA SANDERSON, Fairbanks Support Staff Association (FSSA),
testified during the hearing on HJR 1. She described her work
in the schools as a graduation success coach, and a member of
the support staff. Her position had been cut due to the flat
funding, and three years later the graduation rate began to
fall. She stated that parents have always had a choice to be
involved and engaged in their child's education, and that choice
still existed.

8:50:13 AM

ARNOLD COHEN, Pacific Northern Academy, testified in opposition
to proposed HJR 1 because, as an independent school, it was
necessary to set its own standards for admission and that
acceptance of public funds would allow public scrutiny and
public school provisions. He declared that this would result in
a loss of the independence. He expressed his concern that the
use of public funds for non-public education would diminish the
quality of public education. He discussed the possibility of
private diploma-mill companies entering the school market and
having low standards. He offered his belief that it was the
obligation of the state to oversee the use of public funds. He
questioned the amount of the vouchers, pointing out that an
independent school, with a class size of less than 15 students,
cost about $19,000 to educate a student. He asked from where
this difference of cost would be provided.

8:53:02 AM

JESS ELLIS stated his support of HJR 1, declaring that all
Alaskans should have the opportunity to vote on this issue.
Commenting on the text which was proposed for deletion, page 1,
lines 8 - 10, he announced that it had been "rooted in bigotry
and for no other reason ought to be repealed." He opined that
the State of Alaska had a constitutional obligation to provide
for education, and that the current system "has proven to be
more expensive and less effective than is the case in other
states." He offered his belief that there should be the option
to employ the private sector in education, "especially if the
private sector can produce better results at a lesser cost." He
suggested that this would be a prudent fiscal option. "Liberty,
freedom, competition, and unleashing the genius of the private
sector are all fundamental American and Alaskan values," he
relayed. He announced that proposed HJR 1 would lead to "more
choices in education, and a better educated population. I
believe it will lead to an empowering of good teachers to do
their job better and to better compensation for doing so. I
also believe it would allow minorities the greater potential to
escape poor public schools."

8:55:05 AM

TAMMI GANGULI, Alaska Parent Teacher Association (PTA), stated
that both the national and Alaska PTA were in opposition to HJR
1 and any school voucher system that would divert public funds
to private or sectarian schools. She stated that the PTA
believed that any home school, or other non-public school,
should meet the same educational standard as public schools.
Speaking as a parent, she stated that it was her responsibility
to advocate for her children, and that, as every child had
unique educational needs, it was necessary to have a good,
quality public school system. She offered her belief that any
money diverted from the public schools to schools with other
social and religious preferences would deprive the general
public from an enhanced education. She offered her belief that
the discrimination came from the private schools. She stated
her opposition to proposed HJR 1.

8:58:13 AM

WANDA LAWS, President, National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP), stated that the NAACP in Anchorage
was in opposition to proposed HJR 1. She questioned where the
funding would be found. She offered her belief that any voucher
program would cause segregation between those who could and
could not afford private schools. She questioned why private
schools, if funded with public money, should not be held to the
same standards, rules, and certifications as public schools.
She suggested that more funding for the public schools would
allow for smaller class sizes and programs. She opined that
lower income and minority children would "be left out in the
cold" with a voucher program.

9:01:01 AM

BOB GRIFFIN stated his support for proposed HJR 1, as it was
better to fund public education and "not worry about the system
so much." He reported that he was a "proud union member." He
offered his belief that the school system was broken, as Alaska
spent more per capita than any other state, yet was at the
bottom of many rankings. He declared that "student outcomes has
to be the bottom line." In response to Representative Drummond,
he stated that the cost of most voucher systems were
substantially less than the base student allocation. He stated
that "poor, disabled, and ethnic people have benefitted the most
from these programs across the country." He declared that the
public school system was currently segregated.

9:03:52 AM

JOHN TOBIA stated his support for proposed HJR 1 and offered a
personal anecdote about the education of his daughter in the
public schools, home school, and private school. He offered his
belief that it was critical that children get "the finest of
education."

9:06:39 AM

CHINH GRIFFIN stated support for proposed HJR 1, and declared
that the people should have the opportunity to vote. [Indisc.]
She offered her belief that parents should choose what was best
for the children.

9:08:45 AM

GLEN BIEGEL, Alaska Home Educators Association, stated that he
had made the choice to have a second job in order to pay for his
children to attend a private school. He offered his belief that
children should have access to the school of their choice, and
that a voucher gave children that opportunity. He expressed his
strong disagreement with the NAACP representative. He offered
Mt. Edgecumbe High School as an example of a successful school.
He testified in support of proposed HJR 1, and to "stop trying
to control what parents have choices for."

9:12:00 AM

DAVID NEES stated his support for proposed HJR 1. Directing
attention to the proposed resolution, he reflected on Day 44 of
the Alaska constitutional convention in 1957, when an argument
had ensued about direct and indirect aid, and support for
secular schools. He pleaded for the proposed resolution to pass
so that there could be public discussion and a vote on the
proposed resolution. He observed that Alaska had changed and
that the Alaska today was no longer the Alaska of 1947 and 1957.

9:14:49 AM

LAWRENCE WEISS described an anecdote about the struggles of his
grandparents to receive an education in Russia, and that their
values had included a strong opinion for no state involvement
with private education. He declared that he shared these views
for the necessity that religious and private schools had to be
independent of state funding, which he opined was consistent
with both the U.S. and Alaska State Constitution. He declared
that he was against the proposed resolution.

9:17:46 AM

JANE ANVIC declared that she had previously served as a member
of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly, which was tasked with the
establishment of tax rates for the financing of public
education. She stated her opposition to proposed HJR 1, and
opined that the use of public funding for other than public
education would erode the public education system. She offered
her belief that it was incumbent upon the State of Alaska to
ensure provision of a system of education that provided access
for all students to as good an education as possible. She
opined that draining financial resources from the public
education system would be harmful to that system. She declared
that the reduction of financial opportunities for expansion of
the public education system would improve graduation and
performance rates. She opined that public money needed to be
devoted to public education. She declared that this [public
school] was the principal fundamental methodology for students
to learn to read and write. She stated that the management of
the resources of the State of Alaska had to include support of
the public school system.

9:19:54 AM

REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON, pointing to the data from the Lower
48, asked if it was appropriate to use that data for comparison.

MS. ANVIC replied that it was appropriate to make this
comparison.

REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked if the size of Alaska contributed
to the high spending per student.

MS. ANVIC replied that there were many reasons, and that size
and distance were not the least of these. She pointed out that
the school budget appropriation in Anchorage had been reduced by
$25 million, and she offered her belief that the state had a
responsibility to assist all the school districts in the state,
declaring a need to support the public educational system.

9:21:46 AM

VICTOR FISCHER pointed out that amending the state constitution
was a very serious matter, and that the burden of proof was on
those who would like to make this amendment to the Alaska State
Constitution. Noting that he was a member of the state
constitutional convention, he offered his belief that the casual
approach of allowing the people to vote was a "lousy" argument.
He reported that the constitutional language, the same text
proposed for deletion by HJR 1, had been unanimously accepted.
He declared that education was a function of each state, so that
the aforementioned text was not part of the U.S. Constitution.
He declared his opposition to proposed HJR 1, stating that the
public education system was funded with public money, and any
program approved through passage of HJR 1, would be a direct
benefit to religious and for-profit institutions. He declared
that he did not support public funds being directed to religious
and for-profit schools.

CHAIR GATTIS said that, as public money was already going into
private and religious institutions, this was a dilemma which the
legislature was attempting to reconcile.

MR. FISCHER, in response, stated that the situation was still
open enough that the law allowed the opportunity for scholarship
programs. He noted that this could continue until a legal
challenge was brought and the Alaska Supreme Court made a
ruling.

CHAIR GATTIS expressed her agreement.

9:27:41 AM

REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND reiterated that the burden of proof was
on those who would change the constitution. Referring to her
earlier question posed to the sponsor of the resolution
regarding the source of funding, she pointed out that his
response had been that funding was not the question with regard
to HJR 1. She asked what Mr. Fischer would determine to be the
burden of proof for the legislature to put this question to the
voters.

MR. FISCHER replied that the basic question was whether this
resolved a non-existent problem. He opined that there was not a
fundamental problem with the existing constitutional language.

9:29:21 AM

LAURA BONNER stated her opposition to HJR 1 and that it "opens
the door to allow discrimination for special needs students and
to lower income families." She opined that it blurred the line
between church and state, and did not define any direct
educational benefit. She offered her belief that legislators
would be negligent and fiscally irresponsible with passage of
this resolution.

9:30:45 AM

DAN LORING declared that it was difficult to state whether he
was for or against the resolution, and he asked the committee to
consider what was best for the children, especially the students
in some neighborhood schools. He declared that often lower
socio-economic and minority children had been left behind. He
stated that good teachers and good administrators would assist
children with success "at an extremely high level." He called
for a focus on the chronically underperforming neighborhood
schools and the student needs.

9:33:21 AM

CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School
Boards (AASB), stated that AASB was opposed to proposed HJR 1.
He explained that members of the AASB had taken the same oath as
legislators, swearing to support and defend the Alaska State
Constitution. Noting that, as nine of every ten children
attended public schools, it was necessary to maintain a quality
public school system. He declared the difficulty to "connect
the dots" between the proposed constitutional change and
improvement of the school system. He emphasized that there were
unintended consequences from the proposed resolution, and that
passage would make it necessary to revisit case law, statutes,
regulations, and the current school structure. He stated that
choice, although a good thing in and of itself, was not enough
of an argument for constitutional change. He stressed that
accountability was the most important issue, pointing out that
acceptance of state dollars necessitated satisfaction of state
outcomes.

9:36:13 AM

MARY GRAHAM stated her opposition to HJR 1, and declared that
the dilution of public education funding would not result in the
attainment of the stated graduation goals. She pointed to the
use of vouchers in other school systems as an attempt to
redirect public funds to religious education. She declared that
it was necessary to focus on quality public education, that
there was already choice within the public school system, and
that it was not necessary to amend the state constitution.

9:37:49 AM

MR. POUND asked that questions from the committee be submitted
to the bill sponsor, and that written responses would be
provided. He announced that the proposed resolution was only a
step toward the possibility of school choice, which would not be
addressed until the 29th Legislature.

9:38:27 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, referring to the testimony by Victor
Fisher, asked whether the sponsor agreed with the responsibility
of the legislature for the ramifications to a constitutional
amendment, or was the sponsor merely responsible for the
"individual words that are on a constitutional amendment." He
pointed to the necessity of a two-thirds vote for agreement by
each body of the legislature for passage of a change to the
constitution, and then to the subsequent passage by 51 percent
of the people. He established that the questions posed
regarding funding to the current 9,600 private school students
had been declared by the sponsor to not be necessary for
response at this time. He questioned the "firewall" by the
sponsor's declaration that the legislature "should only consider
the exact words, and not the ramification, of removing the
prohibition for direct benefit for any religious or other
private educational institution from the constitution, and what
that would allow."

9:40:23 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER stated that, of the 40 attempts put
forward to amend the Alaska State Constitution, 28 amendments
had been successful, and included the rights to vote for 18 year
olds, prohibition of sexual discrimination, creation of a
limited entry fishing permit system, creation of the Alaska
permanent fund, and assertion of the right to privacy.

9:41:03 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked for the sponsor of the proposed
resolution to address the question for a funding cap to the
private schools similar to those on the public schools.

CHAIR GATTIS, apologizing for interrupting, interjected that the
discussion was for a constitutional amendment, and that his
questions were premature.

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that the ramifications for a
proposed constitutional amendment were important to understand,
and he maintained his question.

MR. POUND, referring to the attached fiscal note, [Included in
members' packets] stated that there was no funding issue
attached to the resolution. He stated that discussion of
funding should be "down the road."

CHAIR GATTIS expressed her agreement that the questions were
premature.

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON maintained his desire for an understanding
to the federal requirements that could occur with passage of the
proposed resolution.

CHAIR GATTIS offered her belief that this would be a discussion
after passage of the resolution by the people of Alaska.

9:44:06 AM

REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON opined that an understanding of the
ramifications from passage of a constitutional amendment was
important for the voters to comprehend, and that she supported
the questions proposed by committee members. She offered an
analogy to a funding pie, which was limited in its size, and
would result in smaller distributions should there be more
allocations. She declared that it was necessary for Alaskans to
understand these ramifications.

CHAIR GATTIS replied "I don't even know what it means, except
for that the people will choose, and we will have grand
conversation and big debate on what it truly means." She stood
firm in her conviction that the people of Alaska trusted the
legislature to make the right choice.

9:47:39 AM

REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND expressed her agreement with the
comments of Representative Seaton and Representative P. Wilson.
She stated that it was the fiscal responsibility of the
committee to understand the possible funding for the
aforementioned 9,600 students.

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified that there were 9,600 students
in private and religious schools who could be impacted by
funding.

REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND asked to clarify that this number of
students had been reported by the Department of Education and
Early Development.

9:49:22 AM

JODIE TAYLOR stated her support for HJR 1, declaring that state
and federal funding should be available for people in their
choice of schools.

9:50:47 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER emphasized that the proposed resolution
was simply a constitutional amendment to allow a system, and
that there should not be discussion for ramifications until
"consideration of that law would be made." He declared that
this was a multi-step process.

CHAIR GATTIS praised his eloquence.

9:51:33 AM

REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified that he was not searching for
specific examples, but that it was necessary to understand other
laws and provisions in the Alaska State Constitution which would
be affected with passage of the proposed resolution. He asked
for a better understanding to the meaning of the proposed
amendment. He opined that it was necessary to have a "high bar
to understand and to be able to explain, when it goes to the
vote of the people, why."

CHAIR GATTIS summarized that the sponsor should explain what
other parts of the state constitution would be affected, with
regard to education, by passage of proposed HJR 1.

CHAIR GATTIS announced that HJR 1 would be held over. She left
public testimony open.