Senators Joe Paskvan, Dennis Egan, and Gary Stevens during the closeout hearing of the Senate Finance DEED Subcommittee, March 20, 2012
This blog contains highlights from the Alaska Education Update. The update is issued daily during session and contains detailed summaries of education issues under consideration by the Alaska State Legislature. If there is a hearing on a Monday, a report will, with few exceptions, be released by Tuesday morning. There is also a weekly edition of the update. During interim, reports are issued only when there has been action. Interim action may include hearings, bill signings, the release of the Governor's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and other items that may be of interest to the education community.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Operating Budget Amendments

Wow, I am really impressed with how smoothly the amendments on the operating budget went in the House Finance Committee this afternoon. Most amendments were sponsored by the full committee. Several minority members carried a couple of amendments (sponsored by the full committee). Those included several of Rep. Gara's issues of high concern, including support for foster children and early childhood education. Only a few amendments were sponsored by individual members. Most of the amendments sponsored by individual members failed.

Amendments 1 through 23 were offered by all members of the House Finance Committee, and were adopted unanimous consent.

Amendment 2 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment changes the “fuel trigger” for appropriations to departments for high fuel prices. The trigger is changed from $36 per barrel to.....
 $51 per barrel. The intent of this change is to recognize recent sustained high oil prices. Because of this shift, $57,200 will be added to DEED’s base appropriation, instead of through the “fuel trigger,” for a net zero gain to the department’s budget.

Amendment 8 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment reduces general fund travel for state departments, except for the Dept. of Public Safety and the University of Alaska, by 10 percent. The reduction for DEED is $68,400.

Amendment 17 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment approves $180,000 for transportation for the Alaska School for the Deaf.

Amendment 19 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment addresses foster care issues, including funding to keep foster kids in their original school for the remainder of a school term, for employment training, and for ten additional University of Alaska tuition waivers for foster children.

Amendment 21 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment appropriates $960,000 to DEED for teaching and learning support, and student and school achievement, to cooperate with the University of Alaska to help prepare secondary students for the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP), and success in science and engineering.  In addressing Amendment 21, Rep. Joule said that ANSEP started out just helping Native students, but it now includes non-Native students.

Amendment 22 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment appropriates $700,000 to Ilisagvik College for workforce development programs.

Amendment 23 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment appropriates $600,000 to DEED for early learning programs. It will be up to departmental discretion how much to grant to Best Beginnings, the Imagination Library, and/or existing Parents as Teachers providers.

Amendment 25 by Reps. Gara and Doogan was withdrawn. This amendment would have specified that administrative agencies should find efficiencies, where possible.

Amendment 26 by Rep. Gara failed 3 yeas, 7 nays. Voting in favor were Reps. Gara, Salmon, and Foster. Voting in opposition were Reps. Joule, Kelly, Thomas, Doogan, Fairclough, Stoltze, and Hawker. This amendment would have provided additional funding to the University of Alaska’s priority programs in energy, climate change, health care, teaching, engineering, math, and science.

Amendment 31 by Rep. Foster failed 3 yeas, 7 nays. Voting in favor were Reps. Salmon, Foster, and Gara. Voting in opposition were Reps. Thomas, Doogan, Fairclough, Joule, Kelly, Stoltze, and Hawker. This amendment would have added $614,000 in general funds to $27,000 in university receipts to fund the Marine Advisory Program (MAP) in the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.  In addressing Amendment 31, Rep. Foster stated he had received assurance from the university that the funding in Amendment 31 would be used for the MAP. Chairman Hawker said that although he did not support Amendment 31, he supported the program, and thought that they would eventually see MAP get where they wanted it to get [a hint that future funding might be forthcoming?].

At this point, I believe the House Finance Committee is done with the amendment process, with the exception of gas line-related amendments.  Those will be taken up at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, March 9.

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