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By Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired
Senior Voice Correspondent 

Seeing the light on state spending priorities

Alaska Older Veterans Report


I was pretty hard on the well intending elected officials who are trying to expand Medicaid to the uninsured in the in my article last month. My objections were based on my concern for the cost to the state in a time when future revenues are going to be limited and uncertain. Having been taken to the woodshed more than once in my life, this time I have finally have seen the light. I am not sure if it was a blinding light or a burning bush, but my religious epiphany occurred just the same.

I had not realized the upside to having all the state’s revenue earmarked for insurance and retirement payments. The last session, I watched most of the committee hearings on Alaska public antenna TV during my breaks from writing. I was so shattered and moved by the testimony from the island dwellers of Alaska about the hardships they would have to endure if a ferry wasn’t available to them whenever they decided to travel to Costco. I didn’t know. I am now convinced that spending half of the transportation budget on the ferry system isn’t enough. Who knew? Thank God for public broadcasting.

In three years, all the hate and discontent caused by the fussing over who gets what in the capital budget will be over. Won’t be a capital budget, no need to fuss. PERS, TERS and Medicaid will have to be paid as well as those folks who run the program. Contractual obligations must be paid. Local services once provided by the state will be paid by local taxpayers. School bonds now mostly paid by the state will be a thing of the past. When your rent or house payment shoots up a couple hundred bucks a month, remember it’s for the kids who are our future.

This doesn’t affect you, you say, because you live in an unincorporated borough with no local tax? Just because the legislature hasn’t exercised their power and authority to act as your assembly and levied a local sales tax doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. The PFD checks will be taken for the greater good. I could go on, but you get the picture. No such thing as a free lunch.

In a related subject, the VA announced that the disability hearing waiting list is now at a historical low of 100,000. I feel so much better for the vets but, of course, I am not one of the 100,000 who is waiting on a disability hearings decision. The fact the VA trimmed the list by just rejecting some veterans’ claims in 60 seconds or less is beside the point. Bonus goals must be met at all costs.

Mike Dryden is a retired Army Major and current board member of Older Persons Action Group, Inc.


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