Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/27/2003 03:35 PM Senate STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           SB 117-ELIMINATING LONGEVITY BONUS PROGRAM                                                                       
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked the department representatives to come                                                                 
RAY MATIASHOWSKI, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of                                                                      
Administration, read the following into the record:                                                                             
     The  original  intent  of the  Alaska  Longevity  Bonus                                                                    
     program was to provide  incentive for older Alaskans to                                                                    
     continue    uninterrupted    residency    in    Alaska,                                                                    
     acknowledge  the  economic   hardships  of  living  out                                                                    
     retirement  years in  the state,  and to  recognize the                                                                    
     contributions these  pioneers made  while Alaska  was a                                                                    
     The  actual  program began  in  1973  with $100  checks                                                                    
     being mailed  to approximately  4700 recipients  with a                                                                    
     total  cost  to the  State  of  about  two and  a  half                                                                    
     million dollars.  Over the subsequent years  the number                                                                    
     of recipients grew,  as did the size of  the checks, up                                                                    
     to $250  in 1982.  In  1982 there were just  over 9,000                                                                    
     Alaskans receiving  a longevity bonus check  at a total                                                                    
     cost of $26,000,000.                                                                                                       
     The original  eligibility requirements  to get  a check                                                                    
     were that  an individual had  to be 65 years  old, have                                                                    
     lived in  the territory on  or before January  3, 1959,                                                                    
     and maintained  a domicile in  the state for  25 years.                                                                    
     All three of  these criteria had to be met  in order to                                                                    
     become eligible to receive a check from the State.                                                                         
     In  1984  through the  results  of  a legal  challenge,                                                                    
     these  requirements   were  eliminated  and   a  1-year                                                                    
     residency  requirement was  implemented.   The cost  of                                                                    
     the  longevity bonus  program was  $29,000,000 in  1984                                                                    
     and swelled to $43,000,000 in 1985.                                                                                        
     Over  the  following  years the  program  continued  to                                                                    
     grow, reaching  its peak in  1996 with a  total general                                                                    
     fund outlay of $73,270,100.                                                                                                
     A phase-out  program was  implemented in  1994 reducing                                                                    
     the monthly  checks to new  recipients by $50  per year                                                                    
     for the next three years,  and no recipients were added                                                                    
     to the program after December  31, 1996.  All people on                                                                    
     the  program prior  to 1997  continue to  receive their                                                                    
     checks   as   long   as   they   maintain   eligibility                                                                    
     Because  of this  phase out,  the program  is gradually                                                                    
     shrinking over  time with projections  of approximately                                                                    
     $29,000,000  being  paid  out  in  2009  and  the  last                                                                    
     seniors receiving  checks in about 2030.   Additionally                                                                    
     because  of  the  phase  out,  of  the  38,000  seniors                                                                    
     currently  in  Alaska,  about 18,000  are  receiving  a                                                                    
     longevity   bonus   check    leaving   20,000   seniors                                                                    
     completely uncovered by this program.                                                                                      
     Because  of the  unequal treatment  the program  offers                                                                    
     seniors  and   because  it  no  longer   reflects  it's                                                                    
     original  intent,  the  administration is  seeking  the                                                                    
     elimination of the longevity bonus program.                                                                                
JOEL GILBERTSON, Commissioner of the Department of Health and                                                                   
Social Services added:                                                                                                          
     I  come   before  the  committee  today   as  a  fellow                                                                    
     department   to  discuss   the  continued   safety  net                                                                    
     programs that will be fully  funded under the Murkowski                                                                    
     2004 budget  request and other programs  that are being                                                                    
     administered  through  the  state   on  behalf  of  the                                                                    
     federal    government.   Continuing    under   Governor                                                                    
     Murkowski's  budget for  2004 will  be full  funding of                                                                    
     Adult  Public Assistance,  which  continues to  provide                                                                    
     cash assistance  to over 4,800 senior  citizens in this                                                                    
     state.  That  is at  a  cost  of  over $20  million  in                                                                    
     general fund  dollars for  old age  assistance program.                                                                    
     In  addition,  fully  funded will  be  assisted  living                                                                    
     general  relief, which  provides services  to over  263                                                                    
     seniors  at  a  cost  to  the  state  of  $2.4  million                                                                    
     annually.  We will  continue  our  food stamp  program,                                                                    
     which serves approximately 1,092  seniors who reside in                                                                    
     households  and  that   distribution  is  $2.8  million                                                                    
     annually.  We are  continuing  our  home and  community                                                                    
     based programs  grants at a  cost of $1.5  million, our                                                                    
     Medicaid  home  and  community based  waiver  services,                                                                    
     which provide  over 1,250 seniors who  are eligible for                                                                    
     nursing home  care and  they voted  to remain  in their                                                                    
     own communities and  in their homes at a  cost of $19.7                                                                    
     million  annually to  the state.  Additionally, we  are                                                                    
     fully  funding the  602 beds  that are  currently being                                                                    
     used  in the  Alaska Pioneer  Homes  at a  cost of  $34                                                                    
     million. We are continuing  nursing home coverage, long                                                                    
     term care  coverage under  Medicaid for  seniors, which                                                                    
     allows between 850  and 900 seniors to  live in nursing                                                                    
     homes at  a cost of $58  million to the state  in FY02,                                                                    
     the last  year we  have of completed  Medicaid numbers.                                                                    
     Additionally,   we   continue  the   guardianship   and                                                                    
     conservator programs,  which serve  850 adults  at $1.4                                                                    
     million.  We  continue   our  personal  care  attendant                                                                    
     program,  which  provides  assistance to  seniors  with                                                                    
     functional impairments  at a cost of  $13.7 million and                                                                    
     serves over 1,800 Alaskans.  We are continuing Medicaid                                                                    
     coverage to  assist seniors who are  receiving Medicaid                                                                    
     but don't  have the means  to make premium  payments or                                                                    
     co-payments. We  pay the premiums, the  co-payments and                                                                    
     the deductible coverage for  individuals at 100 percent                                                                    
     of poverty. And we pay  premiums for individuals at 130                                                                    
     percent   of  poverty.   Our  total   Medicaid  program                                                                    
     assistance  for seniors,  including prescription  drugs                                                                    
     and  medical care  and  hospitalization  to over  6,300                                                                    
     elderly Alaskans is at a  cost of $95 million annually.                                                                    
     In  addition  we will  be  working  with Washington  to                                                                    
     pursue   a  prescription   drug  benefit   through  the                                                                    
     Medicare Program where  it belongs. This Administration                                                                    
     remains committed  to having  a safety net  program for                                                                    
     seniors. Safety net  programs that provide prescription                                                                    
     drug  coverage  and  access  to   long  term  care  and                                                                    
     assisted   living   personal  care   attendants.   Food                                                                    
     assistance and  cash assistance payments will  be fully                                                                    
     funded  under  the  Governor's budget.  As  the  Deputy                                                                    
     Commissioner  stated, 20,000  seniors currently  do not                                                                    
     receive  the  Alaska  Longevity  Bonus;  an  amount  of                                                                    
     seniors that is higher than  the number that do receive                                                                    
     the program and the intent  of the program has changed.                                                                    
     The  intent of  the program  has not  changed, but  the                                                                    
     actual  reality  of the  operation  of  the program  is                                                                    
     different  from   its  original  intent  when   it  was                                                                    
     I'm here  to let  you know  that the  Administration is                                                                    
     committed to fully funding  safety net programs. Safety                                                                    
     net  programs  are funded  in  the  FY04 budget.  These                                                                    
     programs will continue. They provide  the safety net to                                                                    
     seniors  and  the   Administration  supports  the  bill                                                                    
     obviously  - SB  117 -  and both  Ray Matiashowski  and                                                                    
     myself are  here to  answer any  questions or  yield to                                                                    
     what I  expect to be  a full session of  testimony from                                                                    
     the public.                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked if members had any questions.                                                                          
SENATOR JOHN COWDERY said he would  like a list of the recipients                                                               
of the bonus sorted by district.                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MATIASHOWSKI advised  the department had that                                                               
information sorted  by zip code  and he  would check to  find out                                                               
whether it could be sorted by legislative district.                                                                             
SENATOR COWDERY replied  that would be helpful.  He reported both                                                               
he and  his wife are  recipients. He heard about  the possibility                                                               
of  a needs  based program  and  would be  interested in  hearing                                                               
more. Although an individual might  not need the bonus today that                                                               
is no guarantee it wouldn't be needed in the future.                                                                            
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  pointed out the information  was available on                                                               
page two in the committee packets.                                                                                              
SENATOR GRETCHEN  GUESS asked for an  explanation for eliminating                                                               
the program.  She understood the Commissioner's  perspective that                                                               
there  are   other  programs,  but   she  was  unclear   why  the                                                               
Administration was looking at eliminating the program.                                                                          
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  MATIASHOWSKI stated  the main reason  is the                                                               
program  does  not  meet the  original  intent.  The  Legislature                                                               
implemented it  to provide incentive  to people who lived  in the                                                               
state  during  territorial  days  to   remain  in  the  state  in                                                               
retirement. With  the elimination  of the  residency requirement,                                                               
it became  a different program  and the  true dollar cost  to the                                                               
state is too high to sustain.                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON  added it is  fair to say the  program is                                                               
different than  when it  was created. As  a result  of litigation                                                               
regarding length of  residency, it is a  different program. There                                                               
are now  more seniors who do  not receive the bonus  than seniors                                                               
who  do receive  the bonus.  There  are seniors  on Adult  Public                                                               
Assistance who  aren't eligible for  the bonus program  and there                                                               
are  seniors  who are  not  on  Adult  Public Assistance  who  do                                                               
receive  the bonus.  The  safety net  programs  will continue  to                                                               
exist and  the Administration believes the  state's resources are                                                               
best put into those programs.                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS asked  if he was referring to the  1973 intent when                                                               
he says it isn't the original  intent because it's obvious it has                                                               
been the intent of Legislatures  and other governors to have this                                                               
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON  agreed he  was referring to  the program                                                               
as originally created.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  GUESS asked  if there  were  still people  that fit  the                                                               
original criteria that would be taken  off the program if it were                                                               
eliminated. She observed you couldn't  get to the original intent                                                               
the way the program is currently structured.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON  acknowledged he understood what  she was                                                               
saying, but  according to his  definition the current  program is                                                               
beyond the original intent in terms of expenditure and scope.                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  questioned, "There  are still  people that  fit in                                                               
that original intent that would be removed from this program?"                                                                  
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON agreed and  repeated there are safety net                                                               
programs within  state government  that are  fully funded  in the                                                               
'04 budget. Those programs  accomplish the Administration's goal,                                                               
which  is  to  ensure  that  needed  services  are  available  to                                                               
seniors. At a  time when resources must be  allocated to maintain                                                               
core  state functions  and  a  safety net  for  all seniors,  the                                                               
Administration  sees this  as  the best  way  to accomplish  that                                                               
SENATOR  GUESS remarked  the original  intent had  nothing to  do                                                               
with having a  safety net.  The safety net  issues are clear, but                                                               
it's a different issue.                                                                                                         
She  asked  whether the  Administration  believes  that the  1994                                                               
Legislature made  a commitment when  it decided to phase  out the                                                               
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON  replied he isn't presumptuous  enough to                                                               
state  the  commitment made  by  the  Legislature at  that  time.                                                               
However, the Administration's position  is that under the current                                                               
budget situation facing  the state, and the current  need to fund                                                               
core services and  safety net programs, resources  need to target                                                               
the safety net programs.                                                                                                        
SENATOR GUESS asked  if that means that the $47  million from the                                                               
bonus program would increase the  current funding to those safety                                                               
net programs by $47 million.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  GILBERTSON responded  his department  saw over  $80                                                               
million  in general  fund revenues  going from  2003 to  2004 and                                                               
another $60 million  in general fund revenue  associated with the                                                               
Medicaid program.                                                                                                               
SENATOR GUESS  repeated she  was asking  whether the  bonus money                                                               
would be  added to  the safety net  programs, she  wasn't talking                                                               
about additional growth monies.                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER GILBERTSON replied the  department would be spending                                                               
more in  their Medicaid  program in  2004 than  in 2003  and over                                                               
half the costs would be  associated with care provided to seniors                                                               
and  individuals with  disabilities.  There is  more money  being                                                               
invested  in  the  Medicaid  program  and  costs  are  increasing                                                               
SENATOR  GUESS said  she and  the Commissioner  would meet  later                                                               
because they had different definitions of what new money means.                                                                 
SENATOR  COWDERY  asked  anyone  that   was  in  the  program  at                                                               
inception to raise his or her hand.                                                                                             
UNIDENTIFIED  SPEAKER  reported  many people  couldn't  hear  the                                                               
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  repeated the  Senator's  question and  noted                                                               
eight hands were raised.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  HOFFMAN  stated  the  problem is  it  isn't  new  money.                                                               
Programs  are costing  more, but  the services  provided are  the                                                               
same. To  say that  the bonus checks  should go  toward increased                                                               
costs doesn't  seem to  make much  sense. Even  if all  the bonus                                                               
program money were  used, it wouldn't keep pace  with the program                                                               
cost increases. He  asked if the Commissioner was  saying that is                                                               
COMMISSIONER  GILBERTSON replied  he wasn't  saying that.  He was                                                               
saying  they  have  seen  exponential growth  in  the  number  of                                                               
seniors being served.  Between 2003 and 2004  they are projecting                                                               
an  increase in  the cost  per individual  and in  the number  of                                                               
individuals  seeking service.  The increased  business for  these                                                               
programs  will  take  additional  general  fund  dollars  and  to                                                               
strengthen the  safety net, the Administration  believes there is                                                               
a  need to  prioritize services  and the  budget. The  Governor's                                                               
position  is core  services must  be funded  in the  FY04 budget.                                                               
Difficult decisions were  made and this is part  of that decision                                                               
making process.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR HOFFMAN  said many  of the people  he has  discussed this                                                               
with say  the bonus provides up  to and in many  cases, in excess                                                               
of  50  percent  of  their  income.  That  purchasing  power  has                                                               
diminished  over  the   life  of  the  program   and  the  actual                                                               
purchasing  power of  the $250  is nowhere  near what  it was  in                                                               
1973. Many  of the things these  people use their dollars  on are                                                               
not covered  by the  safety net  and it's  difficult for  them to                                                               
find even part time work to supplement their income.                                                                            
He asked  whether the Administration had  given any consideration                                                               
to a needs based program referred to by Senator Cowdery.                                                                        
4:00 pm                                                                                                                         
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  said to  keep that  question in  mind for  a                                                               
moment and reported Virginia  Smiley, the Administrative Services                                                               
Manager with the Longevity Bonus  Program, was available for just                                                               
a short time if there were any questions. None were forthcoming.                                                                
He restated  Senator Hoffman's  question regarding  a needs-based                                                               
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  MATIASHOWSKI advised  the  Administration's                                                               
position  is  to  support  SB  117 and  he  was  unaware  of  any                                                               
discussion of a needs-based program.                                                                                            
SENATOR HOFFMAN asked  if the Governor would veto such  a bill if                                                               
"it landed on his desk."                                                                                                        
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  MATIASHOWSKI   answered  he  was  certainly                                                               
unable to answer that question.                                                                                                 
CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced he  would take public testimony from                                                               
three people in Juneau then move  to each of the LIO sites before                                                               
returning to Juneau.                                                                                                            
SENATOR FRED DYSON suggested the  Chair offer people with time or                                                               
physical limitations the opportunity to testify first.                                                                          
CHAIR GARY STEVENS agreed that was a good point.                                                                                
ROSALEE WALKER  from Juneau submitted  the following and  read it                                                               
into the record:                                                                                                                
     I have been a resident  of Juneau, Alaska for 37 years.                                                                    
     I  come  before  you  as  a  member  of  the  Board  of                                                                    
     Directors for  the Older  Persons Action  Group (OPAG),                                                                    
     and as the  president of the AARP  Mount Juneau Chapter                                                                    
     #865.   Both   of   these  organizations   oppose   the                                                                    
     elimination of the Longevity Bonus Program.                                                                                
     It  is  well documented  that  for  many years  Alaskan                                                                    
     seniors have voluntarily  worked with elected officials                                                                    
     at all levels  of government to help  to seek solutions                                                                    
     to a variety  of problems. We are proud  of the quality                                                                    
     and extent  of our volunteer involvement.  As Alaskans,                                                                    
     we do  not restrict our  activities to issues  that are                                                                    
     related to  seniors only, but we  work cooperatively to                                                                    
     seek responsible,  reasonable, and fair  solutions that                                                                    
     will  benefit  our nation,  our  state,  and our  local                                                                    
     communities. We  are, indeed, sensitive to  the growing                                                                    
     concerns  about   Alaska's  budget  situation   and  we                                                                    
     participate  with  the  decision  makers  during  their                                                                    
     deliberations on budgetary matters.                                                                                        
     When the  Governor stated that  he wanted  to eliminate                                                                    
     budgetary  waste  as a  part  of  his plan  to  address                                                                    
     Alaska's  budget  dilemma,  we applauded  this  effort.                                                                    
     Needless to  say, it  came as  a great  shock to  us to                                                                    
     find out that  we had been targeted  as budgetary waste                                                                    
     in  the  proposal  to  eliminate  the  Longevity  Bonus                                                                    
     Program.  The gross  simplified justification  that has                                                                    
     been  offered by  the Administration  to eliminate  the                                                                    
     Longevity  Bonus Program  is  based  upon an  uniformed                                                                    
     decision.  Ending this  program  in such  a sudden  and                                                                    
     deliberate  manner  will  open   a  Pandora's  box  the                                                                    
     results  of  which  cannot   be  imagined.  Instead  of                                                                    
     helping to  solve our budget problems,  the elimination                                                                    
     of  the Longevity  Bonus Program  has the  potential to                                                                    
     exacerbate  Alaska's budgetary  problems. Additionally,                                                                    
     the negative impacts that will  be imposed upon some of                                                                    
     Alaska's most vulnerable citizens will be devastating.                                                                     
     There is  nothing new about  attempts to  eliminate the                                                                    
     Longevity Bonus Program, and  seniors have been zealous                                                                    
     in their efforts  to maintain at least  some portion of                                                                    
     its  benefits.  In  a sincere  effort  to  salvage  the                                                                    
     program in  1993, the Legislature made  a commitment to                                                                    
     continue  the  Longevity  Bonus Program  on  a  limited                                                                    
     basis and  to allow the  program to "sunset"  itself as                                                                    
     the participants  left the state  or died. For  many of                                                                    
     us who were  involved at that time,  the agreement that                                                                    
     was made  was considered to  be closure as far  as this                                                                    
     particular issue was concerned.  The Legislature made a                                                                    
     commitment in good faith and  we seniors were satisfied                                                                    
     that this would be the end of the matter.                                                                                  
     State policy  decisions concerning the  Longevity Bonus                                                                    
     Program  should be  viewed in  the  context of  current                                                                    
     economic and social benefits to  the recipients as well                                                                    
     as economic  and social benefits to  the state. Seeking                                                                    
     waste in government does not  mean that it is necessary                                                                    
     to  "rip  and  run"  with   any  funds  that  may  seem                                                                    
     available without  serious examination of  impacts upon                                                                    
     the  recipients, agencies,  families, and  communities.                                                                    
     We all  realize that the  devil is in the  details, but                                                                    
     the Administration  has not taken  the time  to analyze                                                                    
     the  Longevity  Bonus Program  to  find  out where  the                                                                    
     devil may be hiding.                                                                                                       
     The proposal  to eliminate the Longevity  Bonus Program                                                                    
     has been presented to the  Legislature in haste with no                                                                    
     concern  about  anything  except  the  confiscation  of                                                                    
     funds  for the  Administration's  purposes. We  seniors                                                                    
     feel  that  we  were deliberately  ignored  during  the                                                                    
     development of  this proposal, and  we feel a  sense of                                                                    
     betrayal regarding the  1993 legislative commitment. We                                                                    
     respectfully   ask   that    you   vote   against   the                                                                    
     Administration's  proposal to  eliminate the  Longevity                                                                    
     Bonus  Program.   If  any  of  you   have  nagging  and                                                                    
     persistent  concerns,  vote  "NO" anyway.  Give  us  at                                                                    
     least one year to have  an opportunity to work with the                                                                    
     Legislature, the Administration,  and the recipients to                                                                    
     seek a  solution that  is responsible,  reasonable, and                                                                    
     fair. We are  ready, willing and able  to volunteer the                                                                    
     time and  effort that will  be necessary to  reach that                                                                    
     Please do  not accept the Administration's  proposal to                                                                    
     eliminate the Longevity Bonus Program! Vote no!                                                                            
SENATOR DYSON asked  whether she would support a  fair needs test                                                               
so wealthy individuals wouldn't receive the money.                                                                              
MS. WALKER  replied, "This is  a bag  of worms." She  likened the                                                               
Administration's  efforts  to  the  analogy of  cutting  off  the                                                               
bottom  of the  blanket and  sewing  it on  the top  to make  the                                                               
blanket longer.  The integrity  of the  blanket is  destroyed and                                                               
it's  shorter  anyway   because  of  the  new   seam.  She  urged                                                               
legislators to work with the  recipients to determine why a means                                                               
test made them so unhappy.                                                                                                      
BARBARA RICE from  Juneau opposed SB 117. When she  first came to                                                               
Alaska, people moved south when  they retired for cheaper living.                                                               
One of the  reasons for the bonus was to  keep retirees and their                                                               
accumulated assets in Alaska to help the economy.                                                                               
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS noted  Dorothy Hildre,  Lila Dyer,  James and                                                               
Marie Devon were present but did not want to testify.                                                                           
MIKE RACE from  Juneau opposed SB 117. His mother  is a recipient                                                               
of the  bonus and lives  in one of  the Pioneer Homes.  He opined                                                               
both  the longevity  bonus program  and the  Pioneer Home  system                                                               
should remain under the Department of Administration.                                                                           
He  suggested   reducing  each  bonus   check  by   ten  percent.                                                               
Administrating  a needs-based  program  would cost  more than  it                                                               
would be worth.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  restated his  intention to  rotate testimony                                                               
among the  off net and LIO  sites and to limit  initial testimony                                                               
to three individuals per site.                                                                                                  
CHARLES MICHON  from Homer opposed SB  117. He and his  wife make                                                               
about $1,100 in  Social Security benefits and it  doesn't go very                                                               
far. The bonus pays for medication and some insurance.                                                                          
EDNA  FISK from  Homer opposed  SB  117. The  program is  already                                                               
being  phased out  and the  recipients  are the  ones who  helped                                                               
build  Alaska. She  and her  husband are  still living  in Alaska                                                               
thanks to the bonus.                                                                                                            
TEPA ROGERS from  Homer opposed SB 117. She said  she was born in                                                               
1931 and receives  the $100 bonus so anyone born  after that year                                                               
is not eligible. The pool  of recipients is dwindling rapidly and                                                               
it should be allowed to phase out naturally.                                                                                    
MICHAEL  WILLIAMS  from Beaver  signed  up  to testify,  but  was                                                               
GARY  LONGLEY Sr.  from Nome  opposed SB  117. He  said he  is 70                                                               
years old and is  not eligible for the bonus so he  has no axe to                                                               
grind regarding continuation of  the program. However, his mother                                                               
and brother would  be adversely affected if she were  to lose the                                                               
bonus. They  are able to afford  to live in an  Anchorage nursing                                                               
home because  of Social  Security, a  disability payment  and her                                                               
longevity bonus. If  she were to lose the bonus,  they might have                                                               
to find another place to live.                                                                                                  
"It doesn't take  a big brain to realize that  closing out of the                                                               
longevity bonus program will be  done shortly because these older                                                               
people are dying off. Attrition  will automatically close out the                                                               
program. Please  keep in  mind all recipients  are in  their 70s,                                                               
80s, 90s,  and even 100s.  They are  used to receiving  the bonus                                                               
and  it's  too late  for  them  to  adjust  to make  an  economic                                                               
change.... This  program has  not outlived  its purpose;  it will                                                               
have outlived  its purpose when  all the recipients have  gone to                                                               
the Happy  Hunting Grounds. Listen  to Lyman Hoffman,  he's right                                                               
on the money."                                                                                                                  
TONY KRIER  from Nome opposed SB  117. He came to  Alaska in 1943                                                               
and his longevity check pays for  his utilities. He would like to                                                               
see the program continue.                                                                                                       
NORMA NICLAS  from Nome opposed  SB 117.  She is the  director of                                                               
the senior  center in Nome. About  95 percent of the  Elders that                                                               
go  to the  center  or are  on home  delivery  take advantage  of                                                               
public  assistance because  they don't  have an  economic choice.                                                               
They have lived a subsistence life  style most of their lives and                                                               
to take the bonus away would  be cruel and heartless. Most of the                                                               
senior safety net items aren't even available in Nome.                                                                          
SIDE B                                                                                                                          
4:25 pm                                                                                                                         
JIM DUROS from  Kodiak opposed SB 117. He said  he is an ordinary                                                               
retired citizen  who has spent  54 years  in Alaska and  hopes he                                                               
can spend his "remaining days  in this beautiful state." He said,                                                               
"I will always be humbly  grateful for those benefits provided to                                                               
me  as a  senior  citizen and  especially  those longevity  bonus                                                               
checks I  receive that  have made  it possible  for me  and other                                                               
seniors to  survive the  ever increasing high  cost of  living in                                                               
Alaska.... Most of  us who are aided by the  longevity bonus will                                                               
not  live much  longer.... making  the program  extinct in  a few                                                               
more  years. In  my opinion,  our  state will  suffer an  adverse                                                               
economy  if and  when the  longevity  program ends.  If we  elder                                                               
Alaskans are able  to remain in Alaska, we will  continue to give                                                               
back very  much more than we  receive and this is  the reason the                                                               
original longevity bonus program was conceived."                                                                                
PAT BRANSON  executive director  of the  senior center  in Kodiak                                                               
opposed SB  117. On Kodiak  Island they serve about  1,004 people                                                               
who are  over 60 half  of which are  minorities that live  at the                                                               
poverty  guideline. Another  35 percent  live at  just above  the                                                               
poverty  guideline, but  cannot receive  public assistance.  They                                                               
can make  $15,000 per year  and not  qualify for the  safety nets                                                               
the Department of Health and Social Services mentioned.                                                                         
She  said, "I  would challenge  each of  you to  try and  live on                                                               
$15,000 a year.  Taking the longevity away from  this category of                                                               
seniors would  be most hurtful.  Most seniors on our  island live                                                               
only  on Social  Security  and their  longevity  bonus and  their                                                               
income  is  less  than  $20,000   a  year.  They  pay  for  their                                                               
prescription drugs, rent, food with  their longevity checks. They                                                               
have no private insurance coverage  and Medicare does not pay for                                                               
prescription drugs.  When Governor  Murkowski speaks  about other                                                               
safety nets  that are available  for seniors if the  longevity is                                                               
eliminated, he is excluding assistance  for seniors who are above                                                               
the minimum  income criteria of $1,000  a month and those  who do                                                               
not  meet nursing  home needs  to qualify  for the  choice waiver                                                               
program.  These are  the  people  who volunteer  to  stay in  our                                                               
community and contribute  to the economy. The  longevity bonus is                                                               
a  safety net  in keeping  these  seniors out  of costly  nursing                                                               
homes and for assisting them  in living independently for as long                                                               
as possible and continuing to contribute to our state."                                                                         
DR.  BOB  JOHNSON opposed  SB  117  as  a representative  of  the                                                               
Pioneers of Kodiak, Igloo 18.  Initially this was to reward those                                                               
who  had  spent  many  years  in  Alaska.  It  is  similar  to  a                                                               
retirement  payment   a  corporation   might  give   a  long-term                                                               
employee. He opined the Legislature  was delinquent not defending                                                               
this  as a  constitutional idea.  The bonus  was a  promise or  a                                                               
contract and it should be  honored. Eliminating the program might                                                               
ultimately end up  costing the state as much if  not more than it                                                               
does now. The same applies to a  means test. It's a fine idea but                                                               
it would be  expensive to implement and would  probably cost more                                                               
than it would save.                                                                                                             
SELINA PETRUSKA  testified on behalf  of the elders in  Beaver in                                                               
opposition to SB 117. Eliminating  the bonus would be devastating                                                               
to the Elders.                                                                                                                  
CHARLES BROKER testified  that the seniors in Tok  are opposed to                                                               
SB 117.  He asked what  ideas Governor Murkowski has  for seniors                                                               
because, "The $250 is a pretty hard thing to beat."                                                                             
FREDDIE LOLLY from  Tok opposed SB 117. She doesn't  want to have                                                               
to collect  food stamps and  at her  age she shouldn't  be forced                                                               
into that position.  She said, "I certainly  hope you'll consider                                                               
leaving things alone  because I don't think you can  come up with                                                               
anything any better."                                                                                                           
GLORIA  STICKWAN  from  Glennallen  testified on  behalf  of  the                                                               
Tazlina Village Council. The Tazlina  residents faxed a statement                                                               
to the Chair  opposing SB 117. The cost of  living in the Tazlina                                                               
area is  very high. Monthly  fuel bills are  at least $500  and a                                                               
single bag of  groceries costs about $100.  Eliminating the bonus                                                               
will  create  hardship  for  these  elders.  Getting  safety  net                                                               
programs in  place would  probably cost  more than  the longevity                                                               
bonus plan does now.                                                                                                            
JANE BROWN  from Glennallen opposed SB  117. She is not  a senior                                                               
citizen and none of her relatives  qualify for the bonus, but she                                                               
believes the program  was a promise to the  senior population and                                                               
it shouldn't be  broken by the state. She  suggested, "Before you                                                               
ask seniors  who live on a  fixed income to tighten  their belts,                                                               
you  should  first  cut  the   state  employees  retirement  COLA                                                               
ED MARTIN SR.  from Soldotna opposed SB 117. He  said the program                                                               
is well needed  by those least able to support  themselves due to                                                               
age and ability  to work and care for themselves.  Other areas of                                                               
the state budget should be cut before the bonus program.                                                                        
JAMES PRICE from  Nikiski opposed SB 117. He said  he is 44 years                                                               
old  and he  would  rather  pay income  tax  than  see the  bonus                                                               
program cut.  It has helped  make Alaska  a better place  for all                                                               
the  residents.  He said,  "I'm  surprised  that the  Legislature                                                               
would  threaten   to  or  even   consider  to   reduce  longevity                                                               
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS asked Mr. Price  to realize that SB  117 is a                                                               
Governor's bill.                                                                                                                
LAURIE CHURCHILL from  Nikiski opposed SB 117.  She advised there                                                               
are many other  areas that could be cut. "Taking  money away from                                                               
senior citizens is morally and ethically wrong."                                                                                
DORRIS  LEE KOPP  from Paxson  opposed SB  117. She  has been  an                                                               
Alaskan  resident since  1947. The  bonus has  helped her  to pay                                                               
insurance and  to stay independent.  She has never had  to depend                                                               
on the  state or federal government  for aid and doesn't  want to                                                               
start now.                                                                                                                      
WALTER KOPP from Paxson opposed SB  117. He and his wife generate                                                               
their own  power. It is expensive  for them to travel  to doctors                                                               
and to  pay for food.  Seniors who  support SB 117  should return                                                               
their checks. The  bonus should not be means  tested because each                                                               
person's lifestyle is different.  "The longevity bonus program is                                                               
our  safety net....  Why  not take  $200 out  of  each and  every                                                               
permanent fund check to help support our state budget?"                                                                         
AL SLAGLE  intended to participate,  but was unable to  stay long                                                               
enough to testify.                                                                                                              
ELENA RATH from Ketchikan opposed SB  117. She spoke on behalf of                                                               
the senior citizens from the  Ketchikan Adult Day Center who were                                                               
unable to attend.  They use the bonus to pay  for fuel, groceries                                                               
and  medications. She  said  she is  39 years  old  and would  be                                                               
willing to pay more user fees to help senior citizens.                                                                          
ELIZABETH  DENNIS from  Anchorage  opposed SB  117.  She and  her                                                               
husband have lived in Alaska  since 1957. People on fixed incomes                                                               
depend  on  the money.  A  graduated  income  tax would  be  fair                                                               
because the people that have the most would pay the most.                                                                       
CHAIR  GARY   STEVENS  asked  committee  members   if  they  were                                                               
available to stay  and listen to testimony until  7:00 pm because                                                               
an  enormous  number of  people  were  waiting to  express  their                                                               
EMILIE LINDSTROM from Juneau asked  to testify before it got dark                                                               
because she was unable to drive after dark.                                                                                     
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked her to come forward.                                                                                   
MS. LINDSTROM opposed SB 117. She  has lived in Alaska since 1942                                                               
and it's a  very expensive place to live. She  said, "Water alone                                                               
is $62.50. I  have arthritis I can't  sit in the tub so  I have a                                                               
quick shower.  And I live  with my cat  and she drinks  less than                                                               
one-half cup  of water a  day and we  still pay $62.50  for water                                                               
alone. And the oil is very  expensive because we old people can't                                                               
be cold....  I wouldn't go  hungry without the money,  however it                                                               
does  help. I  think it's  only fair  that the  people that  make                                                               
money should pay taxes."                                                                                                        
J.R.  HANK LANGMAN  from Anchorage  opposed  SB 117.  He said  he                                                               
would send  his comments directly  to Chair Gary Stevens,  but he                                                               
had  a question.  Senator  Hoffman addressed  the  issue, but  he                                                               
wondered if anyone had done a  study of how eliminating the bonus                                                               
would affect all the villages  in the outlying areas. Eliminating                                                               
the program would be a serious mistake for all Alaskans.                                                                        
NORMA ALDERFER  from Anchorage  told the  LIO moderator  what she                                                               
had to say had already been said.                                                                                               
JOHN  CERUTTI  from  Valdez  opposed  SB  117.  He  is  the  vice                                                               
president of the  Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo 7.  He suggested that                                                               
the  Governor ask  state employees  to  pay 50  percent of  their                                                               
medical benefits if he really wants  to save money. He said, "The                                                               
safety net for seniors has a  huge hole in it and Senator Hoffman                                                               
should be praised for his remarks."                                                                                             
BOB KELSEY was born in Valdez in  1918 and he opposed SB 117. The                                                               
nation  is in  a  depression  and the  President  has gotten  the                                                               
country in  a war in  Iraq and  is spending billions  of dollars.                                                               
Taxes will  certainly go  up so seniors  will need  the longevity                                                               
bonus more than ever.                                                                                                           
BILL BARR from Valdez intended  to participate, but was unable to                                                               
stay long enough to testify.                                                                                                    
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS announced the committee  members had previous                                                               
commitments  so testimony  would  be taken  for  another hour  at                                                               
most, but he would take additional testimony at a later meeting.                                                                
RUTH  BOHMS from  Fairbanks  opposed  SB 117.  She  has lived  in                                                               
Alaska  for the  last  52 years.  The purpose  of  the bonus  was                                                               
clearly stated in  1972. She read from  the original legislation.                                                               
"Under no circumstances shall this  chapter be considered a form,                                                               
type or method  of public relief. Bonuses under  this chapter are                                                               
not predicated  on need  even though they  may appear  to provide                                                               
supplemental  income   to  some   qualified  persons   who  would                                                               
otherwise be forced to become  responsibilities of the state. The                                                               
Legislature  further  finds  and  states  that  this  legislation                                                               
recognizes  the  economic  hardships  suffered  by  many  elderly                                                               
Alaskans. Alaskans  who through  their tenacity  and perseverance                                                               
molded  Alaska as  we  know it  through  skillful application  of                                                               
their  talents. This  legislation  will,  hopefully, provide  our                                                               
pioneers with  the economic  means to remain  in and  continue to                                                               
serve this  state and  to enjoy the  opportunities of  aiding the                                                               
new Alaskans in making this state truly The Great Land."                                                                        
She suggested  the Governor  and his  imaginative staff  create a                                                               
special user  fee for North  Slope workers who "come  into Alaska                                                               
and leave like bandits with  their loot making no contribution to                                                               
our great state..."                                                                                                             
5:00 pm                                                                                                                         
HARRY  JENKINS  from  Fairbanks  opposed SB  117.  The  price  of                                                               
everything, including  ice pool  tickets, has  risen. He  noted a                                                               
local  newspaper reported  3,274  tax foreclosures  in the  North                                                               
Star Borough. He asked, "Does that tell you anything?"                                                                          
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  stated he would take testimony  until 6:00 pm                                                               
then he would reconvene on  Thursday for additional testimony. He                                                               
apologized to everyone who would  not be able to participate that                                                               
He called  Karen Wood  and the  Fairbanks moderator  informed him                                                               
Ms. Wood  decided to send  her written comments rather  than give                                                               
oral testimony.                                                                                                                 
RUDY  VETTER  from  Fairbanks  opposed  SB 117.  He  has  been  a                                                               
resident  since 1947  and  he and  other  recipients have  helped                                                               
increase the economies of various communities.                                                                                  
HENRY FERGUSON  from Palmer had  to leave  before he was  able to                                                               
FREDERICK STIRN spoke  for the Houston Senior  Center and opposed                                                               
SB  117.  He pointed  out  many  seniors  won't qualify  for  the                                                               
various safety nets.                                                                                                            
EILEEN JOHNSON  from Wasilla  opposed SB 117.   In  her household                                                               
budget her  first priority is  to cut unnecessary items,  but the                                                               
elderly don't  belong in that category.  Other adjustments should                                                               
be made.                                                                                                                        
CORINNE WALKER had to leave before giving testimony.                                                                            
DON DINKEL  from Wasilla opposed SB  117. He has lived  in Alaska                                                               
for 66 years.  This was a promise  and is one of  the most humane                                                               
and economical programs the state  has ever had. He urged members                                                               
to  consider the  benefits of  the program  rather than  focusing                                                               
solely on the costs.                                                                                                            
DARREL C. CONNICK from Bethel  would send written comments rather                                                               
than give oral testimony.                                                                                                       
ARTHUR  DULL  SR.   from  Bethel  had  to   leave  before  giving                                                               
BOB HATCHER opposed SB  117. He is a WW II  veteran who voted for                                                               
statehood. If this  bill passes, many seniors will  have to leave                                                               
their homes.                                                                                                                    
TAPE 2                                                                                                                          
5:10 pm                                                                                                                         
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  reported  six people  were  waiting to  give                                                               
testimony in Ninilchik  and he asked that they  select just three                                                               
to speak.  He also asked  that just three  of the 25  people from                                                               
the Anchorage Pioneer Home give testimony.                                                                                      
LORRAINE SCONBERG had to leave before giving testimony.                                                                         
Annie  ZAROAT from  Ninilchik opposed  SB 117.  She has  lived in                                                               
Alaska for 46  years. The bonus is just as  important today as it                                                               
was initially.                                                                                                                  
JOHNNY  COOK SR.  from Ninilchik  opposed SB  117. He  is 71  and                                                               
depends on the  longevity bonus. Many of  the conservative voters                                                               
in  this  state  are  senior  citizens  who  voted  for  Governor                                                               
Murkowski. "This measure is coming back  to us like a slap in the                                                               
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  noted  there were  eight  people waiting  to                                                               
testify in Haines. He asked them to select three.                                                                               
BARBARA LEWIS from  Haines opposed SB 117. There  are 133 seniors                                                               
in Haines who receive and depend on the bonus.                                                                                  
STANLEY BROWN  from the Anchorage  Pioneers Home opposed  SB 117.                                                               
He  advised he  and  his wife  have eight  children  who live  in                                                               
Alaska and all are of voting age.                                                                                               
CHAIR GARY STEVENS said he heard him loud and clear.                                                                            
CAROLYN  TUOVINEN  a  volunteer  at the  Anchorage  Pioneer  Home                                                               
opposed SB  117. She is  aware of how  important the bonus  is to                                                               
seniors.  She  takes offense  at  the  comments regarding  public                                                               
employees because most of them  work very hard. Senior recipients                                                               
rely on the bonus and they need it.                                                                                             
JOHN HALL from the Anchorage Pioneer  Home opposed SB 117. He has                                                               
been a  resident since 1939 and  knows the program has  been very                                                               
important to  many. He feels it  would almost be a  crime to take                                                               
it away from those who need it.                                                                                                 
ELDERSON BEAVER had to leave before giving testimony.                                                                           
DR. ROBERT  BILLINGS opposed SB 117.  He moved to Alaska  in 1960                                                               
and is a WW II veteran. He has  a number of medical issues and is                                                               
trying to  remain independent. He  said he can't afford  to leave                                                               
Alaska and he can't afford to stay either.                                                                                      
JUNE HOSS from  Haines opposed SB 117. She is  a lifelong Alaskan                                                               
and does  not receive the bonus.  The 133 bonus checks  issued to                                                               
seniors in the  Haines Valley brought in $399,000  last year. She                                                               
estimated,  "Every   penny  of   that  probably  stayed   in  the                                                               
district." In  the last  several months  they lost  five seniors,                                                               
which  indicates the  program  will  phase out  on  its own.  She                                                               
closed saying, "I think SB 117 should be tossed out."                                                                           
5:25 pm                                                                                                                         
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  announced he was sorry he had  to put so many                                                               
people off,  but they were doing  the best they could.  In Juneau                                                               
he noted Ralph C. Hunt was present but did not want to testify.                                                                 
MARIE DARLIN,  a lifelong Alaskan  from Juneau,  represented AARP                                                               
and  opposed SB  117. She  advised  there are  many reasons  they                                                               
should  work to  keep seniors  in  Alaska. In  December 2001  the                                                               
McDowell Group conducted a study  for the Commission on Aging and                                                               
reported that seniors are an  industry and a resource. They bring                                                               
revenue into the  state and provide countless  hours of volunteer                                                               
time to  communities. Many non-profits  and communities  would be                                                               
hard pressed to operate without volunteer help.                                                                                 
A copy of her full testimony is in the bill file.                                                                               
CHAIR  GARY  STEVENS noted  Norma  Jean  McCorcle, Jim  McCorcle,                                                               
Larry  Weld,  Mildred Tandy,  Betty  Hunt,  Miriam Lowe,  Lorilyn                                                               
Swanson, George Rogers, Olive Rogers,  Maurice Lone, Jim Castrol,                                                               
and Sandy Perry were present but did not wish to testify.                                                                       
SAM TRIVETTE from  Juneau opposed SB 117. He is  president of the                                                               
Retired  Public Employees  Association of  Alaska. He  arrived in                                                               
Alaska in  1954 and both his  parents retired here. He  took care                                                               
of them the  last five years of their lives  and both had serious                                                               
medical problems. Even though they  had Social Security and state                                                               
retirement, it is  likely he would have had to  move them into an                                                               
assisted care facility  outside Alaska if it hadn't  been for the                                                               
longevity bonus.  In reviewing the  data it's clear that  many of                                                               
the  recipients  are  women  who  are  at  least  75  years  old.                                                               
Discontinuing this  program will have  a huge economic  impact on                                                               
communities  because many  of  these seniors  will  be forced  to                                                               
leave  the  state  and take  their  Social  Security,  retirement                                                               
benefits and assets with them.                                                                                                  
Although  he did  not  read Governor  Murkowski's  letter in  the                                                               
Anchorage Daily  News early in the  week in which he  was pitting                                                               
seniors against seniors, he finds  this extremely distasteful and                                                               
is saddened the Governor would stoop to that level.                                                                             
AMBER  KLOPP  from Homer  had  to  leave  before she  could  give                                                               
ED KLOPP from Homer had to leave before he could give testimony.                                                                
IRIS DOUGLASS from Homer advised  she was speaking for five other                                                               
seniors all of whom opposed SB 117.                                                                                             
ROY  DOUGLASS  from Homer  had  to  leave  before he  could  give                                                               
JANET TOBUK  from Nome spoke  for her  mother and others  who are                                                               
similarly situated in  opposition to SB 117.  She doesn't receive                                                               
the bonus  but is  retired and  grew up in  Alaska. She  said her                                                               
late  grandfather  said,  "Be  careful what  you  take  from  the                                                               
government, they  might want  something in  return and  you might                                                               
not want or be able to give it back."                                                                                           
DANIEL KARMUN,  SR. from Nome  opposed SB  117. He serves  on the                                                               
Alaska Commission  on Aging because  there was  no representation                                                               
for the  villages in  the state.  He has  had the  opportunity to                                                               
speak  to Elders,  to Kotzebue,  to  the president  of Nana,  and                                                               
others and  they all expressed concern  regarding the elimination                                                               
of  the longevity  bonus program.  The needs  in the  36 villages                                                               
near  Nome are  just  as great  as in  urban  areas. The  support                                                               
provided  by the  longevity program  has been  very important  to                                                               
their survival.                                                                                                                 
One  of the  things  his Eskimo  parents taught  him  is to  show                                                               
respect and to serve all Elders  "who have been the background of                                                               
our lives in each generation. We owe  it to them to serve them in                                                               
MARGARET HALL  from Kodiak  opposed SB 117.  She and  her husband                                                               
are  55  year residents  of  Alaska  and bonus  recipients.  They                                                               
retired  in  Alaska  because  of the  quality  of  life  offered.                                                               
Although it is an unpopular  suggestion, a state income tax based                                                               
on a  percentage of  the federal tax  would affect  all citizens,                                                               
those who  receive the  least income and  those with  the largest                                                               
income. She  said, "I  would hate to  think that  our Legislature                                                               
and our  Governor are  thinking that  we are  dying off  just too                                                               
CHAIR GARY STEVENS assured her they would never think that.                                                                     
JAN  CHATTO from  Kodiak  opposed  SB 117.  Although  she is  not                                                               
eligible  to receive  the bonus,  she believes  the state  has an                                                               
obligation  to live  up to  their  commitment. It's  not fair  to                                                               
balance the budget  on the backs of the poorest  in the state. An                                                               
income tax would be much more equitable.                                                                                        
CHAIR GARY STEVENS noted people  waiting to testify in Glennallen                                                               
were gone.                                                                                                                      
Ervin McKenzie from  Anchorage had to leave before  he could give                                                               
Mary McKenzie  from Anchorage had  to leave before he  could give                                                               
DEANNE YOUNG from Anchorage spoke  on behalf of the Older Persons                                                               
Action Group. She  read a letter opposing SB 117  a copy of which                                                               
is in the bill file.                                                                                                            
PATRICK LUBY  from Anchorage works  for AARP and opposed  SB 117.                                                               
He  said  he couldn't  understand  why  the Governor  would  even                                                               
propose  something  like this.  This  is  the personification  of                                                               
"wedge  politics"  which is  an  effort  to  get groups  to  work                                                               
against one  another and  it's very  inappropriate for  Alaska to                                                               
participate. He said, "Senator Cowdery  hit the nail on the head.                                                               
The bonus  goes to the oldest  of older Alaskans." They  are also                                                               
the people with  the highest health care costs, they  live in the                                                               
oldest homes  with the highest  utility costs, and they  are more                                                               
likely to be  widowed older women. The safety net  is welfare and                                                               
anyone who  has worked with  older Alaskans recognizes  they want                                                               
and  need  to continue  to  receive  the longevity  bonus,  which                                                               
recognizes  the  contributions  they have  made.  Older  Alaskans                                                               
would work  with the  Governor to solve  the budget  problems but                                                               
what is done  must be fair and make sense.  Eliminating the bonus                                                               
doesn't make any sense and it certainly isn't fair.                                                                             
GRETCHEN WEHMHOFF from  Anchorage spoke on behalf  of her parents                                                               
and opposed  SB 117. They  have lived  in Alaska since  the early                                                               
1960s and have contributed like  most seniors. The bonus played a                                                               
part  in  their  calculations  to determine  whether  they  could                                                               
afford to  retire in  Alaska. They  now depend  on the  bonus and                                                               
eliminating it is not a respectful  thing to do to them and other                                                               
seniors. She heard  no one except Governor Murkowski  and the two                                                               
department representatives speak in favor of SB 117.                                                                            
ED BARBER  from Anchorage  opposed SB 117.  Past chairman  of the                                                               
Pioneer Home  Advisory Board, Ed  Doss was a primary  advocate of                                                               
the  program who  always  gave four  points  when discussing  the                                                               
   · These funds allow old timers to remain in Alaska rather                                                                    
     than moving south upon retirement.                                                                                         
   · The bonus acts as seed money and turns over many times                                                                     
     throughout the economy as the funds continue to circulate.                                                                 
   · The bonus is a tribute that is received with dignity by the                                                                
     pioneers for their time and contribution to Alaska rather                                                                  
     than some form of welfare assistance.                                                                                      
   · It puts a little sugar in an old timers coffee.                                                                            
He closed stating SB 117 is  a draconian measure that targets the                                                               
eldest of seniors.                                                                                                              
5:55 pm                                                                                                                         
SHIRLEY KNIGHT  from Fairbanks opposed  SB 117. When she  read of                                                               
Governor Murkowski's  plans she  and other seniors  were shocked.                                                               
This is an  injustice to pioneers. She doesn't  receive the bonus                                                               
but  she has  benefited  from  the seniors.  She  said, "I  think                                                               
Governor Murkowski  should get  back to  reality because  this is                                                               
not an easy time for senior citizens."                                                                                          
ALFRED GRANT  from Fairbanks  had to leave  before he  could give                                                               
BETTY HUMMEL  from Fairbanks had  to leave before she  could give                                                               
PEARL SELID WATSON  from Fairbanks had to leave  before she could                                                               
give testimony.                                                                                                                 
MARGARET ZIELINSKI  from Fairbanks  opposed SB  117. She  and her                                                               
husband were shocked to hear  that Governor Murkowski intended to                                                               
eliminate  the  longevity  bonus  program.  There  are  no  magic                                                               
programs to fill the hole the  loss of this program would create.                                                               
She said he  should leave the old people alone  and allow them to                                                               
keep their pride.                                                                                                               
SIDE B                                                                                                                          
6:00 pm                                                                                                                         
BOB HUFMON  from Fairbanks said  pioneer seniors  strongly oppose                                                               
SB 117. He said  this is the only state program  he knows of that                                                               
is  designed to  self-destruct. It  goes down  each year  with no                                                               
governmental  intervention.  Abolishing  the bonus  would  create                                                               
undue hardship for many seniors now faced with escalating costs.                                                                
"The Governor's  attempt to split  the senior community  into two                                                               
factions is absolutely  ludicrous. He may well find  out that all                                                               
seniors stick together for their mutual benefit and protection."                                                                
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS apologized to  the people who didn't  get the                                                               
opportunity to testify. Some of  them were: Vi Jerrel from Homer,                                                               
Marguerite Stetson,  Leslie J.  Zarobsky, Ronelva  Peacock, Chuck                                                               
Diz  from Anchorage,  Nancy  Mendenhall,  Darlene Herbert,  Betty                                                               
Hufman,  Evelyn  Melavic,  Randall  Acord,  Wenzel  Raith,  Cliff                                                               
Brennen,  Don Lee,  Roger Hansen,  Patricia Smith,  Gladys Terry,                                                               
Charlotte   Davis,  Glenn   Hanneman,  Janette   Hanneman,  Glenn                                                               
Hackney,  Ed  Shellinger,  Joe Strunka  and  Vernon  Miller  from                                                               
SB 117 was held in committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects