Governor signs bill fast-tracking relief for SNAP benefits

FastCast digital headlines for Friday, March 31, 2023.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 5:05 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed a fast-track bill on Friday that could accelerate the processing of thousands of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cases.

The Dunleavy administration announced Friday in a press release the governor signed the FY23 Fast Track Supplemental Budget (H.B. 79), which will direct $11.5 million to the health department’s Division of Public Assistance and the state’s Office of Public Advocacy.

The majority of the funds — $6.8 million in state and federal funds — will go toward hiring more public assistance eligibility technicians to help the recertification process of thousands of Alaskans seeking SNAP benefits. At a Senate Finance committee on Monday, DPA Director Deb Etheridge said there are still approximately 2,000 cases left for the department to process.

“We are thankful for the Governor’s support and the Legislature quickly passing the fast-track budget supplemental bill,” Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg said. “This funding will help the Division of Public Assistance hire additional eligibility technicians and contractors to prepare for Medicaid Redetermination and address the public assistance backlog, including SNAP benefits.”

The remaining $4.7 million will go toward hiring attorneys to service “vulnerable or indigent Alaskans in need of competent legal representation.”

“By signing this bill, we are addressing the needs of thousands of Alaskans by ensuring fair and speedy trials and seeing to it that there is food on the table,” Dunleavy said.

The legislation is effective immediately.