Legislature Unanimously Passes Rep. Galvin’s Bipartisan Resolution to Restore Social Security Benefits for Alaska Public Employees

JUNEAU – This evening, Anchorage Representative Alyse Galvin’s resolution, House Joint Resolution 18, ‘Urging the United States Congress to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset of the Social Security Act’, passed unanimously in the Senate. 

 

The resolution calls on Congress to pass legislation to eliminate the reduction in Social Security Benefits for those workers who also qualify for retirement benefits for certain programs, such as Alaska’s PERS and TRS. HJR 18 had passed the Alaska State House on May 1, International Workers’ Day, with a rare unanimous vote of 40 – 0.

 

Galvin’s House Joint Resolution 18 seeks the repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) found in the federal Social Security Act.

 

These provisions, which dramatically reduce Social Security benefits for certain Alaskan retirees including teachers, firefighters, and police officers, have been criticized for disproportionately penalizing public servants who have contributed to social security during part of their careers and also worked jobs where they contributed into what the Social Security Act considers a “non-covered pension.” The Government Pension Offset specifically includes widow(ers) in the social security benefit reduction, as surviving spouses are traditionally entitled to the social security benefits earned by their spouses during their lifetime.

 

A whopping 15.2% of all retired workers impacted by the WEP and GPO provisions are Alaskans, due to the state’s unique constellation of pension programs such as PERS and TRS.

 

The purpose of House Joint Resolution 18 is to call on Congress to act now to remove these two provisions by passing either S.597 or H.R. 82, both called the Social Security Fairness Act. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Representative Mary Peltola are each a co-sponsor of the bill in their respective bodies. Both bills enjoy widespread, bipartisan support. There are over 300 co-sponsors of the bill in the U.S. House, and over 50 in the U.S. Senate. 

 

A version of HJR 18 was previously introduced in the 2022 legislature by Senator Bill Wielechowski, who spoke to the bill during the Senate Floor vote.

 

“The WEP/GPO has had a disproportionate and negative impact on Alaskans for too long,” said Rep. Alyse Galvin (NA-Anchorage). “I’m thrilled that today the Senate joined the House in unanimously voting to encourage Congress to take action now to address this unfair federal policy and to ensure that all Alaskans receive full and fair Social Security benefits in the years to come.” 

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