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Senior programs created to honor those pioneers who made Alaska

Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Fact vs. fiction: There was a time when this former territory experienced tremendous difficulty attracting and maintaining quality men and women in order to establish the infrastructure of the comforts we all enjoy today.

The majority of residents in Alaska today cannot possibly understand the hardships and sacrifices these pioneers made on our behalf, and I suspect a great many of them could not care less other than to give insincere lip service at best.

As an incentive to keep these pioneers who were mostly seasonal workers without benefit of pension plans, the Pioneers Homes and the Longevity Bonus Program were created to compensate them for their great sacrifices. In other words, they would be rewarded for all their hard work and sacrifices by having a comfortable retirement rather than ending up in the poorhouse.

Now, with the stroke of a pen, that promise is gone without a thank you or goodbye.

The permanent fund dividend was instituted to be exactly what its name says, "permanent"! We could have named it the "Permanent Fund Until The State Government Needs It" when officials have squandered away the "rainy day" fund which happens to be the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

How arrogant of our governor to publicly state: "I will insist that this proposal goes before the people for a vote before any decision is made."

Has Frank Murkowski been in Washington so long he doesn't remember that any change to the permanent fund dividend has to go before the people (according to Alaska's Constitution) or is this a tactic to make us think he is doing us a special favor by allowing our vote?

Murkowski also said the permanent fund dividend was created for the state of Alaska. Oops, wrong again, governor. I am sure you meant to say the permanent fund dividend was created for the people (residents) of Alaska.

As a staunch Republican, my pride has been battered by the betrayal of a man so many of us supported and believed in. I hope you will not buy into the governor's assumption that things are so different now than five years ago when we turned down our government's offer to hand over our permanent fund dividends that he knows we will see the light.

Yes, we see the light quite clearly, as distressing as that may be. What is going to be presented and already has been by the permanent fund board is the new improved percentage of market value formula for distribution of the fund.

Let's skip the song and dance show. We are trying to be convinced that the POMV will stabilize the amount of the fund payout to approximately $1,000 per person per year and provide for a constant payout. The trick is that this method accompanied by soon to be proposed legislation is going to allow the government to once again reach into your pocket.

Expect more scare tactics to come your way because if you can be made to believe the government's problems are so severe that the new administration had to eliminate the seniors programs, what on earth will they do to us? Will all of our financial futures be drastically affected through taxes or other methods if we don't step in line and give this administration part of our permanent fund dividends?

Are they going to make us pay anyway by whatever means they can construe? I imagine that is the plan. Now is the time to contact your local senators and representatives and make your voice be heard.

Susan Davies

Kasilof



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