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Juneau – Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) released the following statement after the Alaska House of Representatives swiftly passed House Bill 236 Wednesday night to extend the vital Senior Benefits program. The program is currently scheduled to sunset in June without legislative action.
“This simple bill will keep in place a modest level of assistance to elders and seniors in Alaska, so they can make ends meet. I consider this a priority bill for this session because without it the program goes away and so does that little bit of help that can make all the difference in the world. I thank my colleagues in the House for their swift action on this bill and hope the Senate will agree to also fast-track the bill. I think it would be tragic if the Senior Benefits Program were to become a casualty to the politics that all too often plagues the Alaska Legislature, especially at the end of the session,” said Rep. Kawasaki.
The Senior Benefits Program, which took the place of the Longevity Bonus Program, was created in 2007 to help low to moderate income Alaskans ages 65 and older with cash assistance payments of between $76 to $250 a month. These payments can help pay for food, heating, electricity, transportation, and prescription drugs. The program currently helps support nearly 12,000 Alaskans.
House Bill 236 passed the Alaska House of Representatives Wednesday night by a vote of 35-1. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.