I am and have long been a Democrat, but I am thoroughly sick of the House Democratic leadership's demagoguery on the Longevity Bonus issue. It is my understanding that 80 percent of the former bonus recipients did not need their bonuses; indeed, I recall an acknowledgment from Marie Darlin, one of the AARP's lobbyists on the issue, that she herself did not need the $250 a month in state funds that she was receiving. Moreover, as the governor noted in vetoing the funds for the bonus, Alaska seniors who turned 65 after the beginning of 1997 were not receiving anything, even if they were needy.
Giving state funds to people who do not need them is not good public policy at any time, let alone at times where funds are tight. (Of course, the same argument holds true for the Permanent Fund dividend, but at least there everyone gets the same amount of money.) I am sure that Ethan Berkowitz realizes this, but is not willing to forgo the partisan advantage that he believes the Democrats can derive from beating this dead horse. Enough already! Until the Legislature agrees to greatly increase state revenues, either through significant taxes or spending Permanent Fund earnings, major spending cuts obviously must be made. And stopping the giving of state funds to people who don't need them is obviously the best sort of spending cut. Please, House Democrats, spend your energies instead in working with the Republicans for a program that would limit bonuses to needy seniors.
John B. Gaguine