The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Monday, November 19, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Charlie Borders, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Charlie Borders, Co-Chair; Senators David E. Boswell, Denise Harper Angel, Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, R. J. Palmer II, Tim Shaughnessy, Gary Tapp, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Royce W. Adams, John A. Arnold Jr. Dwight D. Butler, James R. Comer Jr. Jesse Crenshaw, Bob M DeWeese, Jon Draud, Danny Ford, Derrick Graham, Jimmie Lee, Lonnie Napier, Fred Nesler, Don Pasley, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Charles Siler, Arnold Simpson, Tommy Turner, Jim Wayne, Robin L. Webb, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Mr. John Walczak, Director, Louisville Zoo; Mr. Mark Wheeler, Chairman, Louisville Zoo Board of Trustees; Ms. Debbie King, Member, Louisville Zoo Board of Trustees; Mr. Brad Cowgill, Interim President, Council on Postsecondary Education; Mr. Gary Ransdell, President, Western Kentucky University; Ms. Dawn Lee, Executive Director, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jefferson County (CASA); Alex Blevins, Director, Kentucky State CASA; Dr. Carl Metz, Government Affairs Specialist, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky; and Mr. David Boggs, President/CEO, Opportunity for Work and Learning (OWL).
LRC Staff: John Scott, Bart Hardin, Spring Emerson, and Matt Ellis.
Representative Lee moved to approve the minutes from the previous meeting as written. Representative Webb seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote.
Ms. Debbie King, Member, Louisville Zoo Board of Trustees, introduced herself along with Mr. John Walczak, Director, Louisville Zoo and Mr. Mark Wheeler, Chairman, Louisville Zoo Board of Trustees for an overview of the Louisville Zoo Glacier Run project. Mr. Walczak stated the importance of this project to continue making a positive economic impact for the state. Public and private support has helped complete the first two phases of the project, but the requested appropriation of $7.5 million will be used to complete the main phase. Glacier Run will be an essential regional asset bringing national and international attention to the state.
Mr. Brad Cowgill, Interim President, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), introduced himself along with Mr. Gary Ransdell, President, Western Kentucky University, and other representatives of postsecondary education institutions throughout the state for a presentation of CPE's 2008-2010 biennial budget request. The request is a collaboration between CPE and the state's postsecondary institutions working together efficiently to make significant progress on each campus, and also includes $800 million in capital projects.
Senator McGaha asked for an explanation of the formula used to produce better graduation rates and if any thought has been given to including retention rates. Mr. Cowgill replied that the institutions agree to use a two-year rolling average to establish a baseline, adding that when an institution's graduation rate increases above the baseline, funding will be provided to the institution. Mr. Ransdell stated that the formula is structured to reward enrollment as well as retention.
Representative Webb stated concern with tying direct money to success, adding that quality could be affected. Mr. Cowgill replied that a student's performance in the classroom is the responsibility of the instructor, adding that there is nothing that the administration can do to impact this. Financial incentives are provided to focus on graduation and not enrollment.
Senator Westwood asked if the initiative addresses the ease of transferring credits for current and returning students, along with high school graduation problems. Mr. Cowgill replied that the ability to transfer credits is an area that needs attention in order to retain students, adding that the effects of the tuition freeze will be tracked to find out if students with unfinished educations will return to finish their degree.
Senator Shaughnessy asked if the 50 percent graduation rate applies to a four-year graduation plan. Mr. Cowgill replied that the graduation rate applies to a six-year time frame. Senator Shaughnessy stated that incentives should be given to students who graduate in a traditional four-year plan. He then asked for the proposed increase for higher education as a whole over the 2007-2008 baseline. Mr. Cowgill replied that the increase is 16 percent over the biennium, $82 million in the first year and $92 million in the second year. Senator Shaughnessy asked if all of the institutions are behind the CPE recommendation. Mr. Cowgill replied that in general, all of the institutions were in agreement.
Chairman Borders thanked the presenters and introduced Ms. Dawn Lee, Executive Director, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jefferson County (CASA); Alex Blevins, Director, Kentucky State CASA; and Judge Alicia Spainhour for a presentation for the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kentucky. CASA volunteers work one on one with families and provide assistance to children in need. Judge Alicia Spainhour explained that this program keeps children from slipping through the cracks by providing positive role models and maintaining a good child-oriented solution regardless of the problem.
Representative Webb stated that family court funding continues to grow, adding that CASA fills voids left by social workers in advocating for children. She asked for the process for screening, training, and oversight for CASA volunteers. Mr. Blevins replied that national and state CASA standards require eighty hours of training before being allowed to help a child, adding that volunteers must submit reports to supervisors for review before going into court to insure quality services for the child. The funding requested will help insure quality assessment for CASA in Kentucky.
Chairman Borders introduced Representative Charles Siler; Dr. Carl Metz, Government Affairs Specialist, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky; and Mr. David Boggs, President/CEO, Opportunity for Work and Learning (OWL) for a presentation supporting BR 147, an act relating to nonprofit agencies and work centers serving the blind or severely disabled. Representative Siler explained that more handicapped workers are needed to improve the economy of the state, adding that patience, loyalty, dependability, and willingness to learn are some of the qualities of the handicapped worker. He closed by asking for support of this legislation.
Chairman Borders stated appreciation for the presentation and thanked all guests and members for attending. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:35 PM.