Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche is apologizing to Alaska seniors, after Gov. Bill Walker said a cut made in the Senate’s budget would force the closure of Pioneer Homes in Palmer and Juneau.


Micciche, who chaired the subcommittee in charge of the Dept. of Health and Social Services’ budget, said that was not the Senate’s intention when it made a flat, across-the-board cut to the Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes.


At a press conference Thursday, Micciche said a legislative aide looked for a line in the budget to place the cut, and that the Senate should have put more thought into the consequences.


“I find it unacceptable that they were threatened that way. I certainly, personally, apologize that that unallocated cut ended up on a line that I would have revised,” said Micciche. “I certainly learned a valuable lesson.”


The Senate made a unanimous statement, called a “Sense of the Senate,” Thursday to protect Pioneer Homes from closure. Micciche said seniors in those homes should not be worried.


“The average age in a Pioneer Home in Alaska is 86.5, which happens to be the age of my mother,” Micciche said. “What my mother does for fun is worry about things. That’s what she does. And I don’t want seniors to have to worry about that issue any longer.”


Gov. Walker sent a letter to Pioneer Home residents and staff Thursday, saying he will work to protect them during his time as governor.


“I thank the Senate for their action today in their “Sense of the Senate” to confirm their strong support of the Pioneer Homes and bringing finality to the issue,” Walker wrote.


KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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