Governor Mike Dunleavy announced at a Chugiak senior center on Monday that he is keeping the Senior Benefits Program. Dunleavy originally vetoed the funding for the program that gives checks to qualifying seniors. Under House Bill 2001, the Alaska State Legislature put back the $20 million the governor cut. Dunleavy said it was public comment that changed his mind on the program.
"Part of the budget process is you have to listen to Alaskans, you have to listen to the people your budget is going to impact," began Dunleavy. "As I mentioned, we got a lot of feedback from seniors, a lot of good feedback from all Alaskans. To make a long story short, what we have decided to do is to make sure that the funding for senior benefits is in this year's budget going forward."
According to the Commissioner of Health and Human Services for Alaska, Adam Crum, the benefits will be retroactive. That means the roughly 11,320 seniors who were in the program when it was shut down on July 1st, 2019 will receive payments for the months the program was not active.
Dunleavy went on to say final decisions on HB 2001 will be made this week.