Mat-Su Delegation Responds to Threats to Palmer Vets and Pioneer Home Closure
JUNEAU – Following concerns expressed by a number of area residents regarding the possible closure of the Palmer Veterans and Pioneer Home, the Matanuska-Susitna legislative delegation issued the following joint statement today.
“The Mat-Su delegation is doing everything it can to responsibly reduce spending and protect vulnerable populations. Those two goals are not mutually exclusive.
“Instead of paring down costs, the Governor and the Democrat-led House Majority have been very resistant to further spending reductions, relying instead on a suite of new taxes. On Thursday, April 6th, the State Senate passed its version of the budget, which included an unallocated reduction to the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).
“The Senate Majority incorporated significant spending reductions in its version of the budget; however, those reductions did not dictate closing any of Alaska’s Pioneer Homes. Unallocated reductions allow the Walker administration the discretion and flexibility to direct those reductions as they deem most appropriate.
“The budget process is far from over, with several steps remaining. The budget language stated the department could move the $5.7 million reduction anywhere within the DHSS budget.
“The Walker administration is playing upon the emotions of seniors – telling people who have served our country and our communities and are living out their golden years they will soon be kicked out on the street – in order to advocate for his ‘full’ fiscal plan.
“This is not the first time the Governor has put the lives and safety of Mat-Su residents at risk for political gain. Last year, he ‘paused’ the Knik Goose Bay Road safety corridor project, a project that had been fully funded by the legislature. It took several additional deaths and a public outcry for the Governor to direct his administration to resume work on the project.
“When the Walker administration states it has ‘no control and must plan accordingly,’ that is simply not true. Using Alaska’s most vulnerable community members and veterans as bargaining chips is deplorable.”