After the budget and the tiny PFD, each lawmaker gets $8,700 for special session - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, October 23, 2021
HomeTop NewsAfter the budget and the tiny PFD, each lawmaker gets $8,700 for special session

After the budget and the tiny PFD, each lawmaker gets $8,700 for special session

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Immediately after the Senate passed a budget that is partly unfunded, and a Permanent Fund dividend that is arguably the smallest in Alaska history, the Legislative Council met Wednesday to circumvent a state law preventing lawmakers from receiving per diem until the budget it passed, if not passed during the regular session.

In a Capitol building that the public has been locked out of for more than a year, Legislative Council locked the public out further by going into executive session, with no witnesses, to decide that the legislators will be awarded per diem retroactive to May 20, the first day of special session.

That means legislators will get up to $8,790 for the 30 days they will have spent in special session.

“I move that Legislative Council authorize special session per diem payments retroactive to May 20, 2021, for the first special session of the 32nd Alaska State Legislature,” Speaker Louise Stutes read to the council.

In 2019, Megan Wallace, director of Legal Services, explained that Alaska Statute says legislators are not entitled to per diem payments after the 121st day until the first day that the Legislature passes a fully funded operating budget.

However, there is a loophole. “That law does not prevent this body from taking action to provide retroactive payments. The language says it is not to be paid until after the budget is passed,” Wallace told legislators then.

Sen. Lora Reinbold offered an amendment to say that the per diem would be awarded to those legislators physically present in Juneau.

But Sen. Bert Stedman said that was unfair to the legislators whose presence wasn’t needed in Juneau if they didn’t have a committee assignment, and many members are not able to seek other employment, if they are expected to drop their work and return to Juneau for a vote or other matters.

Speaker Stutes agreed with Stedman and said that when members return to their districts, they are often still working on legislative business.

Sen. Gary Stevens said that with Covid, people are working more remotely, and that “we have a good honor system, it has worked well in the past, people put down the per diem they think they deserve, and it’s reviewed by staff and the public has a chance to look at it and see if there is any misuse of it.”

Reinbold said the public will be disappointed because of the reduction of the Permanent Fund dividend decision and the budget. “I think we’re on very thin ice with the ethics law.”

The Reinbold amendment failed, 9-1. Reinbold was also the only legislator on the council to vote against the per diem.

Read The math: The $525 PFD is only worth $195 in 1984 dollars

Read: Protest vote Senate votes for $525 PFD, rejecting conference committee strong-arm tactic

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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

  • Please ask Her Majesty Princess Natasha von Imhof if she thinks this is greedy and a load of crap. Also, ask the Lady Sara Rasmussen if she’s going claim full per diem.
    Where can we unwashed masses get our cake to eat?

  • Isn’t it nice that “they” gave themselves 3-4 times as much as the PFD “they” didn’t give us just for being a legislator whether “they” showed up or not??? And that’s just for 30 days.
    And the beat goes on…

  • Mrs. Reinbold is the only legislative representative that is truly on the voters side. These morons are shameless!!!

  • Let the peasants have crumbs as we know what’s best for those Heathens.

  • The legislators have found a way to pad their wallets at the expense of the state of Alaska;s future and their contituents. The whole of the, are guilty of operating a racket, instead of properly performing the business of the state.

  • I wish I could say I’m surprised… but I’m not. I’ve come to expect the “For me, but not for thee…” behavior and attitude from our elected officials. Couldn’t get the job done in 90 or even 120 days and now they want their per diem for a “Job NOT well done”. This is like expecting full credit and a grade adjustment for turning in a homework assignment after the school year has ended. Does this make them “entitled & greedy”, I think so. Unfortunately, I feel there is really nothing we can do about it, these people are like sharks teeth, you take one out and there is another that pops up right behind them. Sad… truly sad…

  • Though the value of what our elected public servant are doing to earn per diem is debatable, there is some quid pro quo. The PFD is an entitlement program. Other than having a pulse and filling out a form, there is nothing done to receive a PFD.

  • Wow. I’ve never felt as if I ever “deserved” to receive a PFD but, if they’re giving it away, I’d much rather have the $$ in the hands of citizens than in any politicians reach and control. I’m quite sure that I’m not alone in taking that position. Next, they’ll be voting on Cost of Living increases for themselves.

  • PFD Blues

    The Alaska State dolts want our PFD
    And leave us a paltry sum, you see
    Yet they’ll take their per diem
    While the public gets the ream
    It’s all rinse and repeat to me

    Seems to happen every time
    The dolts will squeeze every dime
    Hope the gov cancels with his pen
    And make them do it again
    ‘Cause they think it’s not yours, it’s mine

    We voted them in
    Above the electoral din
    Said they’ll take good care
    But we were unaware
    Of their incompetent lying sin

    They know the divvy belongs to us
    Yet at budget time they make a fuss
    The dolts try and keep it all
    Once again we take the fall
    And they wonder why we have no trust

    Again they’ll bring up the vote
    Will they be hero or goat
    Give us our fair share
    Because we’re in despair
    Or will they do it again and just gloat

    I think I know what to do
    It just might please all of us too
    Give us one final payment 
    And be done with betrayment
    Then find someone else you can screw

  • These “public servants” should work from home over zoom. I wonder how much of the state budget that would save.

  • They need to be changed, Like a diaper, and for the same reason.

  • Foul!
    They are all raking the citizens over the coals, stealing their rightful, legal PFD. Rewarding themselves. Bragging about it all. A thoroughly disgusting bunch of greedy, self-centered individuals, who have no regard for the law, or the will of the people. Little wonder the electorate has such direspect for politicians.

  • Laws are for little people. Not legislators.

    And yet the von Imhof calls us greedy and entitled.

  • If they had done their job in the first place and leave the PFD alone
    Would be no need for special sessions. They only do it to line their pockets.
    Do the job you were elected to do in the allotted time or stay over and not get paid

  • Hi, Suzanne. Great article, but please keep in mind that some legislators, including myself, turn off our per diem and instruct that we are not to be paid for the time during a special session before a budget is passed. I will not receive per diem for these 30 or so days.
    Keep up the great work!
    Roger Holland
    Senate, District N
    907-351-8277 cell/text

  • Reinbold for Governor 2022!!!

  • They always seem to find money for themselves but as Natasha says, the rest of us are just money hungry boobs for expending a PFD according to the normal rules. Of course they have to circumvent the law on getting per diem when they have not passed a budget!!

  • Yet they cut unemployment because it incentivized people not to work. I guess collecting money for not doing you job only works if you elected. lol

  • What a bunch of greedy, unethical crooks!
    They should be ashamed of themselves, instead they want to reward themselves while refusing to pay out a decent dividend! Unconscionable!

    We need the capitol in a drivable location so they can’t hide away and do this sort of crap. It is way past time to break Juneau’s stronghold and make government transparent and accessible to the Average citizen. We know that they HATE the light as demonstrated by their refusal to attend Dunleavy’s special session in Wasilla.

    Remember all these things folks! They’ve been screwing us for decades and then they depend upon our amnesia or the bones they throw us before reelection time. I believe we should dump them all and start over (too bad they would continue to get cushy benefits even after they are out of office).

  • Just as I’ve been saying, these lying psychopaths believe that your PFD does not belong to you, but to them.
    They’re special, you see, and you are not.

  • Greedy and entitled much?

  • Seriously, Alaska state legislators are no different than the D.C politicians. Just like Obama care, we politicians know Americans need this wonderful health coverage but let’s not force us politicians to have to buy in Obama care and we’ll give ourselves a better coverage. Alaska politicians “ we don’t have the money to pay you your statutory dividend” but we think it’s only fair that we get $9k because we made it possible for you to receive $500. Thanks a lot!

  • Why pay them anything, they voted in the time frame to get their job done, after that they should be on their dime, not our. The are totally incompetent and unqualified!

  • What was von Imhof screaming about again? Oh yeah, greed. There is a huge amount of “greed” in the legislative budget that needs to be trimmed. Why do budget reduction talks only focus on the operating budget (rhetorical question), hmmmm?

  • Disgusting. Isn’t that about what they’ve stolen from Alaskan’s over the last years?

  • Beer Pong & now this – throw the bums out!

  • OMG…NO
    Reinbold is another clown.

  • Malfeasance? ANYONE?

  • Roger, good for you. You are not cut from the same cloth as Bryce Edgemon, and because of that you shouldn’t be lumped into the same cesspool as he is. Thank you for reminding us that there are still some decent people in politics in Alaska.

  • Since Biden hates us so much any chance he can send the FBI here to investigate this ship of fools?

    I’d prefer honest crooks to the ones we have now

  • ANGRY. Damn bunch of thieves.

  • S. O. S. / D. D.
    Same old s*^& different day

  • What would it take to resort to the original PFD wording and payout? Among those who voted a $500 PFD, how many can be recalled or replaced? I’m looking for answers and will relentlessly pursue them until the PFD is restored and the losers who voted against it are gone. Thank you.

  • As a lifelong 77 year Alaska citizen who has been following the antics of these supposed “People’s Representatives” of both parties this session, all I can say is that for years I was afraid the Russians were coming, now I am afraid they’re not!

    Maybe the time has finally come to run them all off and completely re-deal the political deck to see if we can’t all get back to just being our old tough, loyal, fiercely independent and mutually supporting Alaskan selves.

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