$3,000 PFD leaves Senate Finance for Rules Committee - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019
HomePolitics$3,000 PFD leaves Senate Finance for Rules Committee

$3,000 PFD leaves Senate Finance for Rules Committee

WHERE IT WILL BE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK

An amendment to increase the Permanent Fund dividend to the full statutory amount of $3,000 moved out of Senate Finance Committee.

The amount, which is the statutorily set PFD, is expected to be reduced again when it hits the Senate Rules Committee on Sunday. Sen. John Coghill of Fairbanks is chair of that committee and is on record as favoring a more modest dividend.

The “full dividend” amendment was offered by Sen. Mike Shower of Wasilla, District E. Voting with Shower was Sens. Peter Micciche, David Wilson, Bill Wielechowski, and Donny Olson. The four voting against the $3,000 were Sens. Click Bishop, Natasha Von Imhof, Bert Stedman, and Lyman Hoffman.

Shortly after the Finance Committee adjourned, Senate President Cathy Giessel, and Sens. Stedman, Von Imhof and Coghill met; subsequent to that meeting, the bill was sent to the Rules Committee, where it will be considered tomorrow and passed to the floor.

BILL COMBINED WITH INCREASE IN STATE SPENDING

HB 2001 has another aspect to it that is sure to be controversial: It adds back about 80 percent of the vetoed budget items that were red-penned by Gov. Michael Dunleavy.

Of the $444 million in vetoes that Dunleavy made to the operating budget, HB 2001 leaves just $91 million of the cuts in place, restoring funding to myriad programs, including $110 million to the University of Alaska System, funds for Medicaid, Public Broadcasting, Senior Benefits, and more.

[See all the spending items here]

In the committee substitute bill that passed, funding of the dividend itself is decoupled from the earnings of the oil royalties, with $875 million coming from the Earnings Reserve Account of the Alaska Permanent Fund, $172 million coming out of the Statutory Budget Reserve (draining it), and $900 million coming from the General Fund.

The differences between the House and Senate bills will likely end up in a conference committee. The House bill is either $1,335 or $1,600, depending on whether the House Republican Minority allows the Democrat-led Majority in the House to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

Alaskans may be confused at this point about the amount of their share of the oil wealth, which should be in their bank accounts in early October. The Legislature, by abandoning the statutory formula, is left to battle it out politically for the fourth year, but this year it’s clear that the leaders of the Legislature are forcing the dividend to compete with every other program needing funding.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Notice bi-partisan support for full dividend.

    • One, Olson

      • And Wielechowski.

    • This was a tough vote for some of these Senators whose constituents tend to be one-issue voters here (not unlike one-issue voters on guns and abortions) IMO. And, of course, the issue is to be re-elected rather than anything else-they most likely have a good feel for what their constituents want.

    • When it came down to it, even Wielechowski and Olson voted for the bill with the $1600 dividend and some added vetoed govt. services.

  • Public Broadcasting should have its money zeroed out. That is a program that does not need money from the government.

  • Next, Senator John Coghill, who figuratively opposes all abortions, needs to get with his Leftist friends in Juneau and figure out how to fight the governor on Medicaid expansion. Rural abortions at government expense is a wise investment in Alaska’s future. Right, John?

  • I hope we can get a dividend that fits within a balanced budget (about $900). I am somewhat poor and would like to have $900 of free money.
    .
    If the dividend is bigger than that, and increases the state deficit (adds to the dribbling red ink), then I will reject it, and send the uncashed check back to the state.
    .
    Also, we must tell our legislators to not permit the butchering of our University of Alaska. It’s OK to have measured, relatively gentle cuts, like the $5 million cut that the legislature did to the University this year. But don’t wildly swing an ax and chop off an entire leg.

    • Randy, with that $2100 you so roundly reject, you could enroll at UAF and take two classes. One in bonehead Econ, and the other in Logic.

      • Ahem, not if the $3000 PFD results in the elimination of the University classes, Chrissy. Logic 101. Please be a little more respectful of Mr. Griffin, who is clearly trying his best to act in what he sees as the common good.

      • Chrissy B thanks for seeing through Randy’s fake commitment he would take $ 900.00 but send all it back if it’s more then that what a phony ! He can’t think for himself but just follows the UAF story line!

      • Unfortunately, with the governor’s $130 million meat saw cut against the University, those 2 courses as well as many others, will probably get deleted. Many students will have to head to other states for their college education.
        .
        But speaking of logic, what is logical about having a budget with a big deficit?

        • Hello, Randy……anybody home? Budget contraction = BALANCE. That’s why you make note of the checks you write and the withdrawals you make from your account. Randy…..please take some classes and study harder. You sound like a nice guy. Just a little bit broke.

    • Randy, either you are ignorant or just plain lying. “If the dividend is bigger than that, and increases the state deficit” The funds come from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) of the Permanent Fund. That is not, never has been “revenue” that comes in and used for funding the State.
      What is, under the Socialist bills that harms the State finances is that they are trying to pay for the PFD out of the Saving Accounts, 1. The Constitution Budget Reserve 2 The SBR. Neither one has ever been designed to pay for the PFD. The legislature has taken 14 Billion from the CBR and now are up in arms that the Governor has swept funds from other reserves, as per laws, back into the CBR. The Legislature is required to put funds back into the CBR and I think the SBR when they have taken in the past, which they have not done. My opinion is they want to zero out the CBR and SBR so they have the excuse to go after the key savings, the ERA, and to have a very long PFD Vacation until that is zero’d out as well, then hitting us with income taxes like that of California, New York, New Jersey.

      • Mike,
        Thanks for your explanation…
        I am wondering what happened to the $ Billion and a half that Walker garnished from the ERA account over 3 years?
        Is that cash still in the CBR or SBR or has it already been spent?
        I think many folks are confused after several years of bickering and a constant barrage of ADN stories which portray a broke state and a choice between a higher dividend or state services.
        Truth is revenue is down, but we have one hell of a “trust fund” to fall back on.

        • All of the money from the PF Dividend that wasn’t paid during the past 3 years went into the PF Earnings Reserve, the same account that the Dividend has historically been paid out of. Now, in order to further remove the Dividend from the PF and to sow confusion, some want to pay a dividend from other sources. In other words, a payment from a source other than the PF Earnings Reserve would not be a PF Dividend.

          • Four-flusher, the SB 26 that was passed last year limits the amount of money distributed from ERA and some legislators are willing to look to other sources to bump up the Dividend and not “to sow confusion.”
            Who knows, at this time, how it all shakes out but it will still very likely be called a PF Dividend.

          • Call it what you will Bill, if it doesn’t come from the a PF Earnings then it’s not a PF Dividend. Kind of like your childish name calling. When you call me and others names it doesn’t make it so, it just makes you look bad.

        • Four-flusher, you know exactly why you’ve earned your new name and it fits perfectly. I’m just calling you what you are!

          • Name calling never contributes to the quality of a discussion. I am surprised that Suzanne lets you do it.

          • JMARK, this poster has chosen to post a blatant lie about me. He can either back it up (which he can’t) or apologize to this site, his choice. In the meantime, he is being called exactly what he is.
            You evidently think that lying is contributing to a discussion?

          • Bill would rather call names than have a discussion with those he disagrees with. It works well because it completely discredits everything he writes.

      • Mike Coons, the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) of the Permanent fund does provide revenue for the state.
        .
        This started in 2018 when the legislature passed SB-26 (POMV law), which specifies that the legislature can draw out money from the ERA that is equal to 5.25% of the entire Permanent Fund’s market value (5-year average).
        .
        The 5.25% draw last year yielded $2.7 billion. Of that, $1 billion was used for PFDs and the remaining $1.7 billion was used for government services for the people (education, snow plowing, troopers, crime control, revenue sharing, etc.)
        .
        If the legislature just paid a “balanced-budget-PFD” of $900, then they would not have to dip into the CBR and SBR to provide for the extra (deficit) spending.

        If they insist on paying a giant-budget-breaking PFD, and if they don’t suck some money to pay for it out of the CBR and SBR, then the only other choice is too raid the ERA above the statutory 5.25% POMV (Percent of Market Value) draw limit. This would be very bad and reckless.
        .
        It is important that we operate the Permanent Fund in a sustainable manner, so that it gradually grows over time. We don’t want it to be slowly whittled away due to shortsighted greediness.

        • Randy the greediness is in state legislative spending not Alaskans deserving of the PFD ! Everything you have stated isn’t known and the POMV is nothing but the legislative way of stealing the PFD and that’s where the true greed came to true light ! It should have never happened And I believe it’s unconstitutional.

    • Great
      We will look forward to seeing your check.

  • Sorry, I am hearing that either the Rules Committee, today, or on the floor will strip the good work of Senator Mike Shower.

    • According to Gavel to Gavel, no Senate Rules Committee hearing or not showing it.

  • The pfd has nothing to do with the budget. They keep saying pfd or services. No, the pfd is self sustaining. We are not all stupid enough to not remember.

  • What ever happened to Mark Begich’s idea of protecting the PFD in the state constitution?
    This seems like the direction Alaskans need to move otherwise it is obvious that “greedy hands” will grab future dividends out of the pockets of those who are entitled to this royalty.
    A “Citizen Led Initiative” is the path forward for Alaskans and watching the unfolding of events this year with our Legislature only further proves that it is paramount we move in this direction.

    • One can certainly disagree here about whose hands are the greedy ones here, Steve. Initiative is a possible path but Legislature can always replace it with their own law if they feel it may pass.

      • Bill,
        I have been listening to our former Senator Mike Gravel speaking on the topic of citizen led initiatives…
        He believes that most politicians do not act in the best interests of the people.
        Legislation brought forward (and voted into law) by the people is the best chance for long term meaningful change.
        This is how the movement to end Marijuana Prohibition started and now 13 states have fully legalized recreational use and nearly a dozen more have “decriminalized” it.
        Politicans are not eager to go against a law approved by the people since this direction is a sure path to loosing your seat in government and we both know how important re-election is.

        • Steve, you might look into what got Gravel ousted from his Senate position for opposing the compromise legislation Stevens had been working on-clearly opposed to the interests of the people.
          As far as Pols going against a law, my opinion is that they may indeed replace the initiative with their own interpretation of it-especially if they are concerned it would pass. Of course they would be careful about going against a law approved by an initiative that passed.

          • Gosh, Mr. Yankee, I would like to hear your version of the end game of the Stevens-Gravel conflict. It may be revealing. By the way – I was there for a bunch of it.

          • JMARK, if you were there why not just give us your play-by-play??
            Mike Gravel filibustered the Alaska Lands Bill back in the 70s and pissed off everyone who had compromised on the bill. Ted Stevens was never one to go up against and Gravel found that out, in spades, on a bill that was a compromise from all sides IMO. This was involving many, other than just Alaskans, but these were national interest lands, too.

  • Just a little more detail to the process: A bill being considered by either the House or Senate, while moving sequentially from Committee to Committee, is not “approved” sequentially. Thus, the Senate Finance Committee may pass out a version, or Committee substitute, it likes but the Senate Rules Committee may have a Rules Committee substitute. All Committee substitutes will be available for consideration when a bill is placed before the body on the Daily Calendar. When a bill reaches the floor a Committee substitute may be adopted in “second reading” or the the original version of the bill may be adopted. There is no rule on this process, although a caucus rule might come into play. Very often, but not always, the Finance Committee version is adopted in second reading. It is simply a matter of counting votes. Additionally, floor amendments may be offered. These can get really wild as they usually do not have a fiscal note attached to them. The views of Senate Rules may win the day here, or they may not. In this instance we are talking about an amount for the dividend and a funding source. It will be fun to see what is ultimately passed.

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