Public testimony held on governor's proposed removal of the Senior Benefits Program

FAIRBANKS, Alaska The House of Community and Regional Affairs held public testimony this morning on the governor's proposed removal of the Senior Benefits Program.

The program currently would expire on June 30 2024, but this proposed bill HB 60 would change the repeal date to June 30 2019.

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website, Alaskan residents over the age of 65 who meet eligibility requirements, are able to receive monthly payments from the state to help them live independently. The Senior Benefits Payment Program offers three payment levels based on the senior's gross annual income ranging from monthly payments of $76 dollars a month for those who make on the higher end of the eligibility, $175 per month in the middle, and $250 a month on the low income end.

Executive Director of the Alaska Commission on Aging, Denise Daniello, spoke on the commission's position against House Bill 60, and that when they conducted a survey of 3,117 Alaskan seniors who said financial security was their number 2 issue.

Co-chair of the committee, Representative Harriet Drummond said they're putting this bill to rest.

"I do not intend for this bill to travel any further, it would have been helpful to hear from the commissioner on his position on this bill, and it would also have been helpful to hear from the department as to their estimate of the costs that removing these funds from these vulnerable folks would generate in additional costs to the state, I have a feeling without even having to do the math, that it would far outweigh the 25 million dollars that we're currently spending," said Drummond.