Undermining the poor

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2002

On April 7, delegates to the 2002 convention of the League of Women Voters of Alaska passed a resolution opposing SB 182, Pro-Rata Reduction in Benefits.

The laws of the state of Alaska provide for assistance for poor families, the elderly and disabled. These programs provide cash benefits to help meet basic human needs, keep families together, and allow the elderly and disabled to live with dignity in their own communities. The National League of Women Voters position on meeting basic human needs calls for these benefits to be sufficient to provide decent, adequate standards for food, clothing and shelter and to be uniform based on needs.

SB 182 permits the Legislature to disregard the actual need for assistance in Alaska communities, and purposefully under-fund certain benefit programs. The state agency administering the benefit program would then have to stretch the funds by reducing the amount of recipient's monthly benefit. Under SB 182, arbitrary and ever-increasing cuts could be made to critical supports such as the Alaska Temporary Assistance Program, Adult Public Assistance, payments to foster parents, and the longevity bonus. Benefits could fluctuate substantially, not just from year to year, but from one month to the next, and could tremendously destabilize the lives of people who depend on these programs. SB 182 allows the Legislature to use the budget process to reduce these critical benefits below levels established in statute, while avoiding debate and public scrutiny.

Cheryl Jebe, President

League of Women Voters of Alaska

Juneau



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