SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Alaska’s Senior Citizens

By Dan Ortiz


April 05, 2016
Tuesday AM

Is oil, or any commodity, really Alaska’s most valuable resource? I, for one, would say no. Our most valuable resource, the resource that most contributes to Alaska, is our people. If we were to make a ranking list of the most valuable populations, senior citizens would be at the top. As we in the Legislature attempt to deal with our significant fiscal challenges, it’s important for us to protect our seniors. Our seniors are a treasured asset to our communities and our economy. The Alaska Legislature shouldn’t adopt policies or cuts that put undue burdens on our senior population.

I’m concerned about the new proposed reductions to our Alaska Pioneer Homes. They have already endured funding cuts that have put them on the brink of closing beds at a time where our senior population is large and growing. While there is a long waiting list to get into our Ketchikan Pioneer Home, this is not the fault of our community members who work hard every day to provide services to our elders. This is due to misguided cuts and lack of funding. I will certainly vote against any cuts to our Pioneer Homes.

Last year I, along with my fellow coalition members, advocated successfully for $2.8 million dollars to be added back to senior benefits. I will absolutely stand up for Alaskan seniors again this year.

Currently, seniors are able to waive property taxes on the first $150,000 dollar value of their home. Many seniors chose to stay in Alaska because of this incentive. There is legislation proposed by a member of the majority party to take this opportunity away from our seniors by giving local municipalities the option of removing property tax exemptions for seniors. I will vote against this bill because I believe this will cause seniors to leave our state.

We can’t afford for our seniors to leave. A State of Alaska report showed recently that just in the year 2014 our seniors contributed 2.4 billion to our state economy. We in the legislature need to adopt and promote policies that incentivize seniors to stay in Alaska.

Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

About: Dan Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District. He is the only independent in the Alaska State Legislature.

Received March 31, 2016 - Published April 05, 2016



Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.