In addition to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s election gimmick promising to pay back dividends to Alaskans in a lump sum (technically, three lumps), his budget anticipates removing longstanding protection for those on public assistance to spend their PFDs over and above the $2,000 cash-on-hand limit they must live under.
Dunleavy’s plan will wreak havoc on already struggling Alaskans. As guardian to a disabled son, I am deeply worried for him and all challenged Alaskans. Alaska’s recipients of adult public assistance are limited to having no more than $2,000 before benefits — including Social Security — can be halted. Dunleavy now proposes stopping their Public Assistance payments until PFDs are spent down.
How this will affect people depending on these benefits is of great concern. Once halted, getting the benefits back can be a nightmare. A visit to the Social Security office in Anchorage can easily take all day. If you live in Talkeetna, like we do, it’s almost impossible in a single day. If you can’t drive or afford a car, heaven help you. Similarly, the Adult Public Assistance office is in Anchorage — the Mat-Su office fell to budget cuts in the last administration.
My son is among those on Public Assistance experiencing a lifelong developmental disability. It seems unconscionable to put Alaska’s most vulnerable citizens at risk of losing assistance and suffering delays or complete inability to get it back. Losing the PFD will likely deny folks their only hope of getting a new winter coat, warm boots or, fixing a broken snowmobile so they can get to the store.
The governor is supposed to be a big man. Maybe he should pick on someone his own size.
— Tom Kluberton
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