Governor says Senior Benefits Program will be restored after earlier veto

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy says the Alaska Senior Benefits Payment Program will be restored after he had previously vetoed the program.

The governor made the announcement Monday afternoon at a senior center in Chugiak-Eagle River. The Senior Benefits Program provides a monthly payment to low-income elderly Alaskans.

Dunleavy said he made the decision to restore the program after speaking to people concerned about the loss of the payments.
"Part of the budget process is you have to listen to Alaskans, you have to listen to the people your budget is impacting," he said.

The governor eliminated the program in late June with his line-item vetoes to the fiscal year 2020 operating budget. There were roughly 11,300 Alaskans who had been receiving the monthly payment.

The payment structure was given in three tiers, based on level of need: $76 per month went to 4,731 Alaska seniors while $175 a month went to 5,124 people. $250 a month was paid to 1,742 seniors.

The lowest tier of senior benefits was unable to be paid in May and June due to insufficient funding.

In July, the Legislature passed House Bill 2001 that restores funding for over $400 million in programs vetoed by Dunleavy. The governor said in the coming days that he would make announcements over which programs he would allow to be funded.

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