How happy I was this morning when reading the headline in the Anchorage Daily News. I was reading the good news, while laying on my bed in the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Home in Palmer. The good-news headline read, “Permanent Fund grows in the first year of new system.” Isn’t it great that this fund has grown from $64.9 billion last June to $66.3 billion this June? As Bruce Tangeman, commissioner of the Department of Revenue, said, “I think it was a really solid year.”
“We kept up and added to the earnings reserve account,” said Angela Rodell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. Reading further, and adding to my joy, I learned that the transfer of earnings from the Permanent Fund can be used for any purpose, and that this year’s budget debates revolved around how much to transfer to use for dividends and how much to use for services. This amount of money is fantastic, and wonderful that some of it can be transferred to us Alaska pioneer veterans in the form of services and Permanent Fund dividends.
But my happiness turned to sorrow when, after opening my afternoon mail, I found that my one-room monthly rent has increased by a whopping $1,000. I knew about the increase earlier, but had hoped that our Juneau politicians would pass House Bill 96 and prevent this huge increase. No such luck. They spend their extra session arguing about the size of the dividend check.
Fortunately, I’ll be able to handle the huge increase, but I worry about others who are less fortunate and will have to find a new home.
I should add that my wife has Alzheimer’s disease and is also in the home. Her disease is the reason I am here. After financial help from the VA and Medicaid waiver insurance, I only have to pay $617 per month for her excellent care. But still, unless legislators pass HB 96, I’ll be spending $2,772 per month, and probably more next year.
I think about that $66.3 billion fund, and I wonder if a little bit can be spent on the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Homes. A little may be necessary to keep them operational.
— Bill Brokaw
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