$4.62 billion operating budget contains $1,000 PFD, but no immediate aid to Alaskans - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, April 23, 2021
HomePolitics$4.62 billion operating budget contains $1,000 PFD, but no immediate aid to Alaskans

$4.62 billion operating budget contains $1,000 PFD, but no immediate aid to Alaskans


The State of Alaska’s operating and capital budgets were accomplished at lightning speed this year, as these things go legislatively.

On Day 69 of the 121-day constitutionally limited session, the House and Senate passed the two main budgets for the State of Alaska that tapped much of the remaining Constitutional Budget Reserve, and ensures that Alaskans will get one-third of their statutorily defined Permanent Fund dividend.

The House and Senate recessed after 1:30 am on Sunday. If necessary, they can reconvene before they must gavel out of regular session, and most legislators were scheduled to leave Juneau on flights today.

The COVID-19 virus response requested by Gov. Mike Dunleavy passed, but was held hostage by budgetary maneuvers that forced lawmakers to choose between appropriating a $1,000 Permanent Fund dividend in the fall, or a $500 dividend. Those who have defended a full statutory PFD said they felt bullied and extorted by the move.

The budget will be deeply disappointing to some, who had had their hopes raised by legislative leaders that an immediate aid check of $1,000 would be issued in April. That was stripped out by the House Democrat-led Majority and not restored in the conference committee negotiations.

The operating budget:

  • Ensured that no State worker will lose current wages or benefits or face furloughs. All step and merit pay increases will continue.
  • Added money to the Alaska Pioneers Home and another $21 million for low income seniors in the Senior Benefits program.
  • Added $1.055 billion to the corpus of the Permanent Fund.
  • Increased funding for State Troopers and Village Public Safety Officers by $165 million, a request from the governor.
  • Included Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s disaster response funding of $75 million for the Department of Health and Social Services, $5 million for the Disaster Relief Fund, $5 million for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, and $2.7 million for the public health services at the Municipality of Anchorage.
  • Made a $30 million grant to the Department of Education.
  • Ensured public radio and television are fully funded.
  • Ensured 100 percent school bond debt reimbursement for localities and increased community assistance grants.

“Today was a victory for Alaska’s first responders and frontline healthcare workers who now have additional tools to keep our people safe and healthy,” said House Finance Co-Chair Neal Foster, a Nome Democrat.

“We’ve done magnificent work,” said Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat.

Democrat Andi Story of Juneau lauded the budget, because it restored money to public broadcasting and ferries.

“I’m proud of the thorough, hard work that was done to craft a budget amid a rapidly evolving public health and economic crisis,” said House Finance Co-Chair Jennifer Johnston, an Anchorage Republican. “Because of today’s vote, the workers who keep our state running – doctors and nurses, firefighters and troopers – will be able to keep doing their jobs without the risk of interruption due to a lack of funding.”

Rep. Cathy Tilton of Chugiak-Mat-Su said it was unfair for the Senate to have issued a press release telling Alaskans they were going to get a $1,000 economic relief check this spring, only to have that taken away.

“I believe in expectation management, and shame on us because we got their expectations up,” she said. “We have heard from economists that the best thing we can do right now is get money into the hands of the people.”

Tilton, who had served as a conservative minority member of the conference committee, also said that linking the fall dividend amount to the COVID-19 response package was playing with people’s lives.

“Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ All I can say is ‘Bravo,'” Tilton said.

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Written by

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

  • So the Legislature are attempting to lock up another billion dollars from the reserve account into the corpus of the fund. History has shown that the market will recover with a 13% increase in the fairly short term. Current residents and businesses could use the help now. Almost every incumbent shout be fired in November.

    • You fire them in August. The primary is where the RINOs get back in or REMOVED.

      • Yes, the primary August 18th election is crucial to pink slips, the incumbents that have caused such major corruption in Juneau. Its time to lay down the law, not break statutes like the House and Senate have been doing of late.

  • A great budget for Public Employees crafted by their bought and payed for Representatives. No lay-off’s for those little revenue generating Democrat headed donations from dues paying public employees Bravo!

    Great news for leftist propaganda generating Public Broadcasting system too! Democrats really know how to shore their base.

    Great news knowing that without tourist season because of Corona virus our empty ferries will have room for folks from coastal communities to leave Alaska since without work thier options are limited. Magnificent!

    • Democrats AND the RINO’s shoring up their base. State workers kick back and get paid for doing…..??

  • Children, Seniors, Troopers….all the right things expressed so that if you don’t agree, you must be against them. I taste vomit in my mouth. Once again, I hope people don’t get political amnesia come election time.

  • Yeah. The house majority is bought and paid for.

    • Perhaps, but this time not by the oil companies.

      • Nope. By the boards that they sit on.

  • Easy to see the beneficiaries of this “budget”. A perfect example of socialism/communism in America and, specifically, Alaska. The actions taken by the leftists in control of our legislature are nothing short of socialism. Take from everyone except the cronies and supporters of the democrats/left and give increasingly more and more to “public employees”, unions and unworthy leftist “causes” in Alaska. A disgrace. An extremely selfish accomplishment that benefits no Alaskan citizen except the left. They, on the other hand, are guaranteed never ending raises, benefits, job security for unworthy “public” employees, all at the ‘common’ citizens expense. No compassion, no mercy, no assistance for those most in need in this critical time for Alaska and America. I truly expect “Karma to beget” with these amoral, selfish, non-caring politician/leftists. If not sooner, then at the polls in November. Remember, Alaskans, remember how much these fools care for us. Don’t turn the other cheek in November. That’s what they expect.

    • I think the new motto for conservatives should be: “Remember in November”!

  • James Woods posted a meme saying that the Congress is DC should be drug out by their hair for what they are doing to the Nation… Alaska needs to read James Woods.

    • So wait. Alaska should be throwing around money but the U.S. shouldn’t?

      • Which one is sneaking up to 30 trillion in debt? Rocket Science?

  • Where is Santa Claus when you really need him? People need relief now. And all of the Rino’s and Dems are holding back OUR money. The only thing I can say is………. The majority of voters will remember this fall…….guaranteed.

    • Our money? OUR money?? Show me what you actually did that entitles you to “our money.”

      • Greg,
        I’ll tell you what I and, probably, Thomas did to actually say and believe the PFD is our money. I don’t know about Thomas but as for myself, I’ve lived in Alaska since spring 1951. My wife born here. Through thick and thin for my family, we stuck it out through hardship and productive times. I was in high school when the ’64 quake slapped us upside the head. Unlike the plurality of folks leaving, I stayed here. I had faith in Alaska. It was rough. Several times my young wife and myself (18 & 19) had nothing to eat but beans. We were riding high when we had egg sandwiches. We stuck it out, having faith in Alaska, our home, and in our fellow Alaskans. I’ve never regretted it. The PFD, through foresight and Alaskan support for each of us from the genuine politicians at the time, came about like a gift from heaven. It eased the hardships and expense of living here. It gave us belief that politicians actually worked on our behalf. I believe the hardships we endured at times, determination, faith and trust we had in Alaska are worth my families’ share of the inherent wealth of our Territory, then State. We never gave up on Alaska. Now, after all these years, Alaska seems to be giving up on us, thanks to the leftist ‘tyranny of the majority’.

      • Greg R,
        Yes your $. The P-Fund was created to make certain that a part of the then fabulous oil wealth would not fall prey to the special interests, (NEA, ASEA, AGC… and a whole list of other groups posing as non-profits with paid lobby). I once asked Oral Freeman if any part of the fund was to be viewed by government as a source of supply, his answer? HELL NO! I created this thing to keep them from spending it!

        What bothers me is if the State needs additional revenue it has the plenary power to tax it’s citizens. However taxes are not popular with some people and raising a tax might make a legislator unpopular with those who donate to their re-election accounts. Turns out it is easier to disregard the statute relating to the disbursement of funds (breaking the law) and just steal the money from you to fund government! Some might call this fraudulent. And the worst part is real accountability in government spending is never addressed. Some day the entire fund will be gobbled up by a future legislative body, what comes then?

        • Greg R: read the state constitution more closely, then read the intent of the legislature when the PF was created, and when the PFD was set-up to benefit ALL Alaskans. Yes, it is OUR money, through statutory mandate. Resources belong to the state. Resource derivatives and the collected revenues derived therefrom belong to the people. What don’t you see about that? Are you SO brainwashed by an alternate theory sprung by the supporters of big government and the deep state that you can no longer independently reason from pure logic and plain meaning? No more common sense?

          • Interesting, Marla. When you ask Lefties and Democrats about their common sense…..
            they go quiet.

  • As usual, state workers will receive preferential treatment, no wages lost, step and merit pay increases and benefits will carry on. Phew, I’m so relieved! But what about the rest of Alaskans who are temporarily laid off? It’s still cold enough, that a great number of us will suffer greatly when our electricity is shut off. And do we really need to fund National Pravda Radio (NPR) and Public TV? Both liberal enclaves of indoctrination. The 30 million going toward the worthless Department of Education is like throwing money away. This is a moment in our lifetime when people are rightfully scared, (thank you, media, for ramping up the fear!) and truly in need financial assistance.

    • Trump just extended the social distancing requirements ruining our economy to simply fight the common cold. He is in charge, he is the problem. Right?

  • What ever happened to Governor Dunleavy saying he would leave any changes in the PFD formula “up to a vote of the people”?

    • We vote in November, let’s vote those out who don’t want to follow the statutory PFD!

    • Hear, hear. But, when I think of the entitled sentiments of many posters here, I fear the result.

    • As you should know, his hands are tied. Stop stirring the pot.

    • You must have missed the last election. He ran on trying to restore the PFD to the people (and, incidentally, balancing the budget) and won. Democrats ran on eliminating the PFD and using all the earnings for government, and won their traditional leftists districts where people don’t believe in personal property and think that the goal of any society should be the largest Central government Possible. Many RINOs ran on the Dunleavy platform, and then quickly shed that to curry favor with special interests. He has supported, and even put forward a constitutional amendment to protect it, and the initiative/referendum process to dictate from the people what they want done with it. His whole governing philosophy is that with large fundamental items, such as a new tax, and altering the PFD, the people need a formal say. That concept, “a vote of the people” scares many devote leftists, (which is why they want to have the recall election when as few people as possible will be able to vote) but what the governor ran on, supports, and has done, seems much more in line with what you have in quotes than what the former governor did, (who also ran on not touching it, and then did), or what many of the legislators did and are doing.

      • Lawrence,
        The problem is 6th grade math.
        Without any new revenue from an increase in oil taxes or income tax, there is no money to fund the bloated government that both the reds and the blues make their living off of in Alaska.
        I can make a lot of promises, but without working hard towards achieving my goals they would rarely be accomplished in life.
        What I see is a lot of talk from boths sides of the aisle, yet come game day most votes are in support of maintaining the large bureaucracy and not following the standard formula for our PFD.

        • Most votes in the legislature, absolutely, but if there was a referendum the vote would be to preserve the PFD, that’s a big part of what got Dunleavy elected. To an extent, the values of the people are reflected in their representatives, all things being equal- but The Gov ran on protecting the PFD, because that is the perceived will of the people and has tried to do that. Geisel, ALSO ran on protecting the PFD and then IMMEDIATELY set about raiding it.

          I absolutely agree, everyone’s bread is buttered to some extent by bloated state government, but I also know taking the PFD is the most regressive tax there is, and that it’s not welfare, it’s a shareholder check. Even if it means less butter for my bread (and I’m sure in some way it will), I want Alaskan’s to decide what happens to that PFD. It belongs to them, pure and simple. If the legislators could be trusted to govern on the same side of the issue they campaign and fund raise, maybe I would feel different- but time and time again they show either pride or greed can very easily have them leaving the voter behind, and in this case, it’s very truly theft.

          I could be wrong, but that is what I think the governor has always said, and I think that is his position. If the people voted tomorrow to give it all to government, he would be fine with that. He just doesn’t want to see it taken away by this lot, especially when so many told the voters they wouldn’t do just that.

        • So then let’s not fund the bloated government…there’s a mind blowing thought! Let’s get rid of the big government folks who would take from the common man to support the lavish lifestyle of the bourgeoisie government class.
          Steve, you are starting to sound more and more libertarian every day.

    • Dunleavy said he would push for a full PFD if elected. He was elected. THAT was the vote of the people. You must have voted for the coward Bill Walker.

      • Stine didn’t vote for Bill Walker because Walker and Byron Mallott quit the race as a result of Mallott’s alleged sexual impropriety with a minor. Stine voted for Begich.

  • What will happen now? Can the Governor refuse to sign it? Can he use a line item veto? I cannot believe a group of not too smart people keep the entire State at bay.
    Not everyone qualifies for the Federal program so beg for your dinner.

    • Ha! I love it- “..a group of not too smart people..” that is so true. However, they have one advantage to counter that disadvantage; they have no conscience.

      It’s tough to fight people who will sell you out in a minute (Kopp, Knopp, Coghill, et al), and who have no problem lying to you (Geissel, et al) and who think they are better than you and you don’t deserve a vote (von Imhoff, Edgemon, et al).

  • So Alaskans are gang-raped by those in the legislature yet again. Pathetic.

  • “Then let them eat brioches.”

    • Queen Giessel.

  • The Governor gave the Legislature the choice to do what is right for Alaskans, they chose not to. Let’s hope the Governor uses his pen to correct what he can in this budget and does not fall to the political pressure. Like Sean Parnell and Mark Begich recently wrote “Unprecedented events, however, require a big, bold response.” I can think of no other time where putting a red-line through large portions of the budget would be more appropriate.
    This budget must be slashed and those who voted for it must be voted out of office, the future of our state is at risk.

  • what is up with Rauscher, Rasmussen and Neuman? They seemed to like being excused. Are they just there for the salary, retirement and health care?

  • For anyone who would like to express their feelings here is a complete list of the Representatives who voted for this. Cut and paste if you like.

    [email protected]
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    [email protected]
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    [email protected]

    For those that need some ideas here is a sample email:

    Dear Representative,

    Thank you for passing the budget and leaving the session as soon as possible. I would appreciate it if you do not return.

    • I only see 1 person worthy of a call, who runs the show.

  • Rahm Emmanuel stole that saying from Machiavelli.

    Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.”

  • Yeah. What’s your point or do you not know how government works?

  • Remember in August first. These thieves have to be primaried OUT!!!

  • In hours y’all go from whining to snivelling! If you’re all TRUE Alaskans’, buck up!

    Speaking about a TRUE Alaskan, how come nothing here about our true imbecile congressman and his beer gaffe? Well, at least he didn’t call it the ‘wetback virus’. Probably crossed his mind but he does have some youngsters (fortunately) on staff to keep pappy’s bubble semi-level. To think that way back in the Precambrian, as a child, I actually voted for him – once.

  • Prediction – State Income Tax is coming.
    Prediction – State sales tax increase is coming.
    Prediction – State bailout necessary because of overspending to government employments and services.
    Prediction – Price of oil is so low – there won’t be any PFD.

    • With respect, the list should include the State Education-Industry Tax and the Statewide Post Exodus Recession/Depression.
      Otherwise… good list.

  • It would have been nice to have gotten a springtime $1000 supplemental dividend check from the state. A majority of the legislature ultimately voted against it on March 29.
    Unfortunately, the state has only a limited amount of money with which to pay for needed services for us, the Alaskan people. The state is struggling with a big budget deficit. Some of this very limited amount of money, needs to be used for the Alaskans who were thrown out of their jobs due to the government mandate to shut down businesses, because of the virus.
    I still have a job, and so, the state should not be sending me extra free cash, when that money is needed by other Alaskans who are jobless and hurting.
    There is confusion floating around, due to the term “dividend” (PFD). The Alaska Permanent Fund was created in 1976, and was meant to pay for government services for the Alaskan people, far in the future, when the oil revenues dropped off. In 1976, there was no mention about an annual cash “dividend” payment to every citizen.
    The Alaska legislature decided to create a “dividend” program in 1980, because at the time, there was a big surplus of oil revenue flowing in. This dividend program was based on length of residency in the state, and was for Alaskan adults only (not children under 18). But 2 recent arrivals to the state (Ron and Penny Zobel) didn’t like that they didn’t get as much as long term Alaskans, and so they sued.
    The dividend program was changed in 1982, so that newcomers and sourdoughs got the same amount. But there was enough surplus free money for everyone, so it worked out. The Alaska legislature even added kids to the recipient list.
    The term “dividend” implies that a company has a surplus and has made a net profit over time, and is able to disperse some of the surplus to shareholders. Not all companies pay a dividend to their stockholders.
    The annual Alaskan payment to all of its citizens, used to be a true “dividend” because there was a true surplus. But there is no longer a surplus.
    The name of an annual free money payment to Alaskans should be changed from “dividend” to “public assistance payment”. This would stop the confusion. People would no longer think they are automatically “owed” an annual cash payment just for breathing.
    If the annual check was called “public assistance” then this would give people like me (who is somewhat poor, but has a job) cause for pause. People like me might step aside and let that limited state money go to wages for state workers who are clearing the snow, teachers, troopers, courts, maintenance, the ferry system and to “public assistance” for Alaskans who are out of work and are hurting.
    Because of the calamitous crash in the price of oil, the State of Alaska is like a wagon that now has only 2 little burros straining to pull it. It is time for people like me to jump off the wagon and walk along side, or maybe even help push. Callous, glutinous, self-centered greed is not called for during these tough times. Those who are able, need to roll up their sleeves and help the state achieve a lean, balanced and sustainable budget.
    If we work hard to trim the budget, and the price of oil goes up, and we get an honest budget surplus, and we restock our depleted CBR state savings account, then we can go back to receiving a true “dividend”. We will have earned it.

    • Randy, so what I get from your error ridden post is that “needed services” include a Gasline to Nowhere”, a $92 million State crime lab, a legislative chef and subsidized meals to people already collecting per diem, massive waste fraud and abuse in Medicaid/Medicare, 60% subsidies of ferries, an over funded and under preforming education system ON ALL LEVELS, …..tell me when to stop.
      And no mention of ownership of mineral resources? Is that not relevant to the pfd? And who is this “WE” whose job it is to “work hard to trim the budget”? I mostly see people working so hard to increase the budget. The Rent-A-Mob traipsing around with their petitions. And it seems like the only job of a politician any more is to “seek revenue”.
      I got some advice for you. Regardless of whether you have kids or grand kids or a Union, State or Federal or local govt. job, you can keep feeding The Monster or you can start voting for people who use words like ‘freedom’ ‘liberty’ and ‘oath to the constitution’. Some of us are aware of the results of the choices we make.

      • Wonder what level the Pioneer Homes will be funded at? Giessel’s mom should be taken care of, and Giessel herself should not be burdened by this extra cost. The state should be taking care of Giessel’s mom.

        • Giessel is supposedly a nurse. This power hungry woman needs to step aside and tend to her own family. She does Alaskans no favors.

    • With respect, Randy, productive Alaskans don’t have the results of a forensic audit proving our lobbyist-legislator team criminally wasted and mismanaged our money to the point that the state has only a limited amount of money for needed services.
      We are –owed– a dividend. Don’t buy the lie that it’s a gift, or free money, or something the masses must “earn”. It is a law, royalty payment, a rent payment if you must, paid in lieu of our individual mineral rights.
      We realize the Great Alaska LeDoux Vote Experiment may be a temporary deterrent to replacing the current (expl del) with reasonably honest, populist, libertarian legislators and judges.
      We don’t give up. Greed and arrogance will be their downfall. It’s up to us to exploit their weaknesses, chum the political waters, get them to eat their own.
      Then we might have a chance to refloat our ship of state, yes?

  • I just realized that there may be a bright side to all this for some…….possibly many of the ones who are against a state income tax won’t have to worry about being affected by it in the future, should there ever be one.

  • Productive Alaskans are humbly grateful for being allowed to keep basic services like fire, police, infanticide, sequestering PFD’s, their low-quality, high-price education industry, librarians’ sex-change operations,
    …automatically self-destructing roads, the Great Alaska LeDoux Vote Experiment, telling the governor where he can stuff his special sessions, legislative junkets, gas pipelines and secret deals for communist China,
    …revenue-sharing with cities and boroughs whose multi-billion dollar rainy-day accounts are kept out of public sight, the $650M Alaska Municipal League, and figuring out how to spend money pouring out of the Denali Commission pipeline.

    • ‘Ghost Jobs’, Missle Complex. Tell me when to stop.

      • We just don’t hear enough about SpacePork.

  • We have approximately 8 thousand state employees and they have spouses and kids so their is a 24 thousand voting block we need to overcome. The other option is to spend it all and make the budget bigger so when we go broke all the libs and unions will have to leave or go broke with the rest of us. But the average lazy person will not vote or will vote for a name they remember and here we go down the rat hole again.We have a serious problem and it grows every year. Time is short so we need to make a change now and throw the law breakers out of the state.

    • “…a 24 thousand voting block we need to overcome.”
      Look at it like an opportunity either to win their hearts and minds, to chum the political waters so they eat their own, or an artful combination of both.
      Good news is their situation is not sustainable. They know it and we know it.
      Better news is the numbers look like productive Alaskans simply can’t be taxed enough to support our lobbyist-legislator team, public-sector union-management teams, and the 165 cities and boroughs who make up the Alaska Municipal League.
      Best news is the empire may be on the verge of collapsing, especially if another exodus starts, like it did in the mid 1980’s.
      And no, the China flu won’t stop the exodus. The China flu is not sustainable, biologically or politically. With summer coming, Americans aren’t likely to tolerate drama and experiments in amateur dictatorship much longer.

      • let the exodus start. people can move to states where the government doesn’t pay them to live there. They even charge them by having taxes. I miss the late 80’s.

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