Opinion: Pioneer Home rate increases would punish Alaskans
April 1, 2019
On Feb. 25, many of Alaska’s seniors woke to a disturbing surprise. They found a letter announcing unprecedented Pioneer Homes rate increases due to the Governor’s budget proposal.
I am writing as the Representative of House District 20 to oppose the rate increases for Alaska’s Pioneer Homes and oppose the invasive collection of Pioneer Home residents’ private financial information. As Alaska’s seniors, you already have paid your way. After a lifetime of service, taxes and helping build our state, asking for these rate increases in this manner comes across as downright arrogant.
Seniors should not be price-gouged now or be sacrificial lambs for an indefensible budget. Governor Walker’s outgoing budget continued to fund the Pioneer Homes at a suitable level through the compromise he reached with the House and Senate. However, Governor Dunleavy has proposed zeroing out those funds, shifting from state revenue to revenue to be collected from Alaska’s seniors. If implemented, these rates will leave our seniors poorer, destitute and often unable to pay for many other costs, such as healthcare.
This is a budget that would leave Alaska poorer, sicker and less able to achieve the promise we fought for during statehood. We desire a state that is healthy, vibrant and that looks to the future with foresight and care.
I appreciate my House colleagues, Speaker Edgmon, Representatives Ortiz, Josephson, Drummond, LeBon, Tuck, Wool, Kriess-Tomkins, Spohnholz, Shaw and Hopkins, joining me in opposing these rate increases. The Pioneer Homes are required to hold a public hearing on these rate increases, and I hope Governor Dunleavy withdraws his proposal to price gouge seniors.
Zack Fields is a Democrat representing Anchorage House District 20 in the state legislature.