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Feds, state may dilute energy assistance

Posted: Monday, September 01, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Some Alaskans may find their $1,200 energy rebate whittled down to nothing.

The one-time cash payout is being combined with the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend in a single payment and, like the dividend, it's subject to federal taxes and garnishments.

That means people who are in arrears on child support or some loans, for example, will have money taken out to pay back the debt.

Mary Pedroza, who fell behind on a student loan, wishes the legislature would have considered garnishments when setting the rules for the resource rebate.

"I don't mind them getting my dividend," Pedroza said. "I owe them money. But the energy rebate is supposed to help us through the winter."

Pedroza said lawmakers could have established a process so that people like her could sign the energy check over to a utility provider or fuel bill. She called for an emergency meeting to rewrite the rules.

Families who haven't established residency in time to be eligible for a PFD payment won't be getting the resource rebate either.

The rebate is intended to assist Alaskans with the high cost of fuel this winter. Gov. Sarah Palin signed the $1 billion energy relief legislation on Aug. 25 that was approved by state lawmakers in a special legislative session earlier that month.

According to the state PFD Division, funds will be direct deposited on Sept. 12. Paper checks will be mailed Sept. 30 and can take up to two weeks for delivery.



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