Bipartisan Effort Benefits Alaska’s Most Vulnerable Seniors
House Democrats today praised the implementation of House Bill 263, extending the Alaska Senior Benefits Program through 2018. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage), HB 263 was co-sponsored by 32 legislators in both houses, including Democratic Representatives Gara, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kito III, Kreiss-Tomkins, Tarr, and Tuck. The bill was signed into law yesterday.
“House Democrats have long advocated for continuing support for Alaska’s most economically vulnerable seniors,” Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) said. “This extension allows Alaska seniors to make realistic and dependable financial plans and provides critical stability to their home budgets.”
Approximately 11,000 low to moderate income level Alaskans over 65 years of age are expected to take advantage of the program this year. It was scheduled to expire June 30, 2015, but lawmakers accelerated the usual sunset review and, ultimately, extension so as to remove impending uncertainty from those seniors’ financial futures as quickly as possible.
“I originally ran for office was to restore a promise to our pioneering seniors,” Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) said, “and in my first year as a legislator we did the right thing. The Alaska Legislature owes it to our seniors, and that is why I co-sponsored and voted for this important bill.”
Depending on their other sources of income, Alaska seniors may qualify for monthly payments ranging from $125.00 to $250.00. The bill takes effect immediately, so there will be no lapses in payments to seniors presently receiving benefits.