On Day 147 of the 2019 legislative session, the Capital Budget was finally on the House floor, and lawmakers debated Amendment No. 1: a full statutory $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend.
34 of the 36 members present in the House rose to speak for or against the amendment, and in the end it failed, 21-15.
The Republican minority voted for the entire $3,000 dividend, with Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Rep. Tammie Wilson joining them, and the Democrat-led majority voted against it.
Many of those who spoke in favor of the statutory formula for determining the dividend said it was about restoring the trust of the people. Before the Walker Administration, the dividend was calculated based on the five-year rolling average of the performance of the Permanent Fund.
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, pictured above, who represents one of the poorest parts of the state, said her vote against the full dividend was because she wanted to balance the needs of the people in her district for the cash they would get now vs. future services they also told her they wanted. Rep. Adam Wool echoed those remarks.
Rep. Geran Tarr said the Mountain View Community Council in her district told her they preferred services over getting their dividend, and Rep. Harriet Drummond of Spenard-Midtown said that her constituents told her loud and clear they want to be taxed to preserve government spending. She said no kindergartner should have a PFD, nor someone in high school, for that matter.
Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak said people told her to do whatever she needs to do to protect government programs.
The amendment was offered by Rep. Dave Talerico of Healy, who made the case for following the statute established in the early 1980s for calculating the dividend. But 21 of the members did not agree with him.
It appears now that the dividend will be part of the next special session of the Legislature, which will be called after this session ends on June 15, or whenever either the House or Senate gavels out. The only thing accomplished in this special session is an operating budget, which is heading to the governor’s desk for a signature.