SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Byron Whitesides


August 17, 2008

Fellow Alaskans,

I recently sent the following email to my state representation, Senator Stedman and Representative Johansen . I also forwarded it to Govenor Palin, and received a response from her representative, Jerry Burnett, Administrative Services Director, Alaska Department of Revenue.

My "complaint" to them was that the legislature has taken the energy credit/resource rebate and turned it into a PFD bonus, and in the process has left out many Alaskan who don't qualify for the PFD this year for a multitude of reason.

As I understood, this was supposed to help Alaskan's with the high cost of energy here. I just read a few days ago, that the average price of fuel is $0.85 per gallon more than the lower 48, and we all know it is much higher in the remote areas of our state!

In the last few days, I have been made aware of 7 persons in my small group of family and associates, who will not receive this energy credit because it has been tied to the PFD. I feel that this is an injustice that can not be allowed, and urge you all to contact your state representation and governors office and complain about this. Why should PFD recipients who live in the lower 48 receive this energy credit while bona fide Alaska residents don't? This was to help Alaskan's who have the highest cost of living in the USA. This money needs to be spent here in Alaska helping Alaskans and Alaskan businesses who are really hurting trying to cope with the outrageous cost of fuel which has increased the costs of all goods and services and strained many households to the breaking point.

Here are the reasons I was given for the legislature to attach this energy credit to the PFD.

The Legislature amended the bill to provide that only persons who
qualify for the 2008 PFD (and about 400 disabled veterans who receive a
specific VA benefit which precludes them from applying for a PFD) will
receive the Resource Rebate.

The reasons given by Legislators in Committee for this change included:
1. The standards for PFD eligibility have been tested in court and
upheld. 2. Combining the Resource Rebate with the PFD saves
administrative costs. 3. Concerns that a number of short-term residents
would simply take the money and leave the state. 4. Concerns about
fraud with a one-time application. There were a number of opportunities
for public comment and there was very little testimony opposing the
Legislature's amendments.

I feel these reasons are pretty lame and am really tired of having representation that is supposed to be representing ALASKANS, who just take the easy way out instead of doing what is right for Alaskans.

If they are concerned that some seasonal worker are going to cheat and take the money and leave, have the registration period in October when most have left. There are ways to see that Alaskan's are the one to receive help, just use a little imagination, and it is a travesty to reject bona fide residents because you fear a few cheaters!

I feel that there should be an extended registration period for bona fide Alaska RESIDENTS who are being left out when this was made into a "PFD BONUS", so that Alaskans and Alaska businesses are helped as this was originally intended.

I think that there are going to be a lot of Alaskan families and children that are going to be harmed by tying this energy assistance to the PFD. I am a lifelong Alaskan and do not support a PFD Bonus disguised as an energy assistance program that leaves many residents, "in the cold and dark".

your neighbor and lifelong Alaska resident,
Byron Whitesides
Ketchikan, Alaska

Hello Senator Stedman,
I am curious how the new energy credit/resource rebate that just passed is going to be administered. I read in one of the online newspapers it was going to come with the permanent fund dividend payment, which brings the question, what about residents that aren't getting a permanent fund dividend payment for one reason or another?

My youngest son and family moved back here in early February and don't yet qualify for a permanent fund. They are renting a house and heat is costing them $100-$200 per month in summer and they have the heat turned off all day! When they moved into this duplex in March, it was over $300 per month and they were keeping the heat down. They need this energy credit just to be able to survive, so is there some way residents that don't yet qualify for the permanent fund dividend can apply for and receive the energy credit?

I am also concerned about a friend who I worked with for many years. This 67 year old Alaska Native, who is permanently disabled, had a death in his family this spring just around the end of March, and forgot to send his permanent fund application in on time. I think he might have been a week or two late. He recently got help from KIC here, to assist him getting things straightened out, and thinks that he might get it late or maybe next year at latest, but still is not sure about getting it! What happens to him on his small pension and social security disability pension? Does he not get the energy credit even though he is a resident and has lived here all his life? Is he really going to get his permanent fund or will it be denied because he was human, and made a mistake?

Three years ago, my stepdaughter who lives in Klawock, was pregnant with her 4th son who was born on May 1st. She had some complications and other family problems in the couple months preceding her birth, and though she thought she had filled out and sent in the permanent fund applications for herself, her husband, and three sons, a short time after the birth of her son she discovered the applications in a pile of papers! She sent them in late, and even went through some kind of appeal, but to no good, the family didn't get the five permanent funds they were counting on! This was a huge penalty to their family for making a mistake, as after all we are all human and subject to making mistakes, and their was no doubt they were Alaskan's and fully qualified to receive the dividend except for the late filing.

Seems to me that losing the dividend because of making a mistake like late filing, is a pretty severe penalty for the mistake. My friend who because of the death of his cousin with whom he was very close, and then having to transport her body on his boat over to Metlakatla for her burial and then forgot to send his application in on time, now faces the loss of $2000 or more income to him because of forgetfulness in an extremely trying period for him! Do you think it reasonable that we should need the memory of our twenties when almost seventy and then penalized $2000 for having the memory of 67?

Meanwhile, military and civil service families that serve in Alaska and become eligible for the permanent fund, can continue to claim they are Alaskan residents after they leave Alaska and are transferred elsewhere, and continue collecting the dividend. Does anyone ever check to see if they register to vote anywhere else, have they purchased a home elsewhere, and how long have they lived elsewhere? Because it seems to me that many of these persons/families have no intention of ever returning to live in Alaska and are receiving a BIG gift from Alaska simply because they were lucky enough to be stationed here at one time. Are they going to collect the energy credit/resource rebate also????

I feel that the bureaucrats who administer the permanent fund dividend, and the politicians who are their ultimate bosses, would do well to realize their job is to assist and represent Alaskan Residents, that is persons who are actually living here in Alaska, and these are the persons who should be benefiting from the permanent fund dividend,and energy or resource rebate whatever it is called.

For a person who is qualified to receive a permanent fund dividend, and who is known and is provable to be living in Alaska, to be disqualified from receiving the dividend simply from a simple mistake of not filing on time, is a travesty! This seems far too severe a penalty for actual Alaskan residents and families, and I suggest to you that maybe receiving the dividend late would be a more fair solution. If a person makes a mistake and is a month or two late filing because of some oversight or problem, maybe that person should receive the dividend several month later than the rest? I am only suggesting this for the persons actually living here in Alaska. Because our expenses are so much more here, and the cost of living so much higher, that penalizing families the loss of their dividends for forgetting to file timely is harmful to families and their children. Should the children be penalized $2000 because their parent didn't file timely? How about the elderly, should they be penalized for not having the memory of their youth?

I know that there is a worry about the persons filing late being "cheaters". Pardon me, if they can prove they are really living in Alaska and have been and are continuing to live in Alaska, well I'll take my chance with the "cheaters" who are really living here, and who made a simple mistake. SCREW the "cheaters" who claim to be Alaska residents but never received a dividend before the U.S. government sent them here for a temporary assignment and now reside elsewhere but are continuing to claim to be a resident just waiting to return, just keep the checks coming please! I'm not talking about our sons and daughters who are off to college or serving in the military, and they should be easy to identify.

Thank you for reading this, and the consideration I know you will give to the problems I have related to you. I know that in order for you to correct the problems, a person like me has to complain and let you know what the problems are.

Although my question is about how to file for the energy credit/resource rebate if you aren't receiving a dividend, because in the Anchorage Daily News Online it appeared to be tied to the permanent fund dividend, you got to hear my "rant" about what I feel is not right and unfair to Alaskans with the permanent fund.

I surely hope you aren't going to tell me that my son and family aren't going to qualify for the energy credit/resource rebate, while living here in Ketchikan with their children in school, and suffering the high cost of living here, and that this rebate is going to automatically go to anyone who has qualified for a dividend and is living elsewhere.

Best regards and thanks for the help,

Lifelong 60 year resident of Alaska and Ketchikan,

Byron Whitesides
Ketchikan, AK

Senator Stedman <>
Representative Johansen <>
Gov's representative, Jerry Burnett, <> Administrative Services Director, Alaska Department of Revenue.

Received August 15, 2008 - Published August 17, 2008


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