Alaska’s Senior Citizens
By Dan Ortiz
April 05, 2016
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.
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
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