Governor Senior Survey Update July 28, 2016

Due to a cyberspace mis-direct,  Candidate Mead Treadwell’s replies took a “digital detour”.  After contacting Mead he immediately forwarded his responses.

This update replaces the previous survey

The questionnaire below was sent to Republican primary candidates to get their views on Senior Citizen issues. There is also a focus on the Kenai Peninsula which has been ignored by some politicians.

This update features replies from both Mike Dunleavy and Mead Treadwell.

The good news is that both candidates support the Senior Citizens of our great State. Read their answers and take the opportunity to ask them questions on the campaign trail. Remember, August 21 is Primary voting day and your vote counts.

Many thanks to both Mead Treadwell and Mike Dunleavy for their participation.

Peter Zuyus
Senior Citizen Advocate

So here goes:

Candidate Mike Dunleavy, Republican for Governor

Candidate Mead Treadwell, Republican for Governor

1. The Alaska Commission on Aging (ACoA) has an 11-member sitting commission with 6 members from the Anchorage bowl area and ZERO from the Kenai Peninsula Borough
(KPB). Governor Walker has declined to appoint a commissioner from the KPB. The KPB has over 14,000 Seniors representing 24% of the borough population. Will you, if elected Governor commit to making the next commission appointment from the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Yes or No? If No, Why?

Dunleavy: Yes

Treadwell: I am sorry Gov. Walker has declined to appoint a representative from the Kenai Peninsula. I will Please nominate one or two potential members when I’m elected, and –I say this for all underrepresented areas of the state – don’t ever leave your government alone! All Alaskans deserve to be heard by the commission, and that input is the only way good policy can be created.

2. Under Governor Walker, the commission on aging department budget was cut by 40%, reducing staff to only 3 people. This cut of approximately $200,000 represents a fractional amount compared to the current Governors propensity to contract millions of dollars to consulting services.

Will you, if elected as the next Governor, commit to establish a position of Senior Citizen Ombudsman (or similar) to be the Governors direct contact with the Senior Community and the various agencies responsible for their well-being? Keeping in mind that a Senior in that position will have a significantly lower cost and would add a presence for Seniors while still maintaining the reduced ACoA budget.

Yes or No and if No, Why?

Dunleavy: Yes.

Treadwell: There will be a person on my staff designated as point man or woman on senior issues. That person will work closely with our health, administration, veterans, and housing programs to coordinate state activities that are addressing senior problems. I am not committing to specific staff positions because we have a large budget deficit. I want our government to focus on outputs, rather than just argue about inputs to the budget. We have real problems to solve, and the size of the bureaucracy should never serve as a measure for our success in solving problems.

3. Over the past several years politicians have attempted to eliminate the state Mandated Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption. The elimination of this exemption could have a devasting effect on the Senior population and encourage the outflow of Seniors from our state causing economic harm to the entire state.

Will you commit, as Governor to veto any legislative attempt to eliminate the Senior Citizen Property Tax exemption mandate.

Yes or No? If No, Why.

Dunleavy: Yes. I will veto any attempt to tax.

Treadwell: Yes. This is a state decision which affects local budgets, and I will always stand up for it –it is an important incentive to keep seniors here in Alaska and in their own homes where most seniors tell me they’d rather be. We have a budget deficit in this state, and as Governor I am committed to doing what we can to help our communities continue to help seniors, too. A stealth tax increase on seniors does not make sense. I oppose new taxes.

4. Seniors citizens on fixed income are one of the most affected groups of the PFD
reduction. Many Seniors counted on the PFD check for heating, food, that once in a year vacation and quality time with relatives. There have been all kinds of excuses for reducing the PFD amount. Mostly bogus, but all political in nature. Those amounts still sit in the state treasury. The loss of life quality to Seniors and the economic devastation to the state by loss of that annual economic boost is contrary to sound fiscal policy.

Will you, if elected Governor, restore the PFD to full value and return to residents the amounts withheld?

Yes or No? If No, Why?

Dunleavy: Yes. No candidate has worked harder to keep the full dividend has it has been for nearly four decades. I have and will continue to fight to maintain the historic calculation of the PFD and can promise I will not support any changes to the PFD without a vote of the people.

Treadwell: PFD pirates must be stopped. My opponent made promises to protect the PFD, but then voted against a session to override Bill Walker’s veto of the PFD amount. He quit the Senate and could not vote on the Permanent Fund Protection Bill which passed this year.

As governor, I will support the traditional formula which allocates half of Permanent Fund earnings, averaged over five years, to the PFD. The “Percent of Market Value” approach to calculating earnings available should allow for a growing dividend and allow for avoiding taxes. This is not a governor’ s decision alone – the legislature must appropriate the funds, and there is no way, presently, to “veto” a cut. I will push for the legal formula so the Legislature does not play politics with the dividend moving forward.

5. Many Seniors are Veterans and many Veterans are Seniors. How will your administration support and keep the public aware of both the needs and contributions made by these groups to the State of Alaska? It is important that we do not forget. From Attu to Iraq, Alaska Veterans and Senior Veterans have served our country and state.

Dunleavy: I have the utmost respect for seniors and our veterans who served to protect our great nation. These two groups of very important Alaskans will not be forgotten by my administration. I will consult with organizations that represent our seniors and veterans on a regular basis when forming policy and making decisions. They will have a place at the table.

Treadwell: As Lt. Governor, I worked to include Seniors and Veterans in Veterans Day, Memorial Day, changes of command, retirement ceremonies, deployment and returning home ceremonies and honor flights. I helped name a mountain near Cordova after Marines who fought at the Chosun Reservoir. I was there to share the tears with families who lost loved ones defending our country, and I will be there again for you. For me, this is personal. Dad served in the National Guard. Mentors who helped raise me were veterans of the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and I had peers serve in Vietnam, Kosovo and the Middle East. I fought to help Veterans get health care where they live, rather than having to travel great distances to visit VA facilities. I will support Veterans Day events that emphasize the current contributions senior veterans make to society, and make sure that the VA is adequately serving our veterans by insisting that the Traveling Board of Appeals comes to Alaska.