Breaking: Dunleavy vetoes the $525 PFD, and also cuts legislators' per diem for this fiscal year - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomePoliticsBreaking: Dunleavy vetoes the $525 PFD, and also cuts legislators’ per diem for this fiscal year

Breaking: Dunleavy vetoes the $525 PFD, and also cuts legislators’ per diem for this fiscal year

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Gov. Dunleavy said the Legislature didn’t do its job when it settled for a $525 Permanent Fund dividend for Alaskans.

Thus, he made a bold move and zeroed it out from the 2022 budget. He said he expects the Legislature to return in August and come up with something more fair.

Earlier this year, Dunleavy proposed a “50/50” Permanent Fund constitutional amendment that would guarantee Alaskans receive their share of the State’s resource wealth each year, he reminded the press today.

Under the 50/50 PFD proposal, money spent from the Permanent Fund would be equally split between the people and government. That would mean $2,350 for each eligible Alaskan this year.

That proposal was given almost no consideration by the Legislature.

The Legislature instead reduced the PFD to $1,100, but more than half of that was contingent on a 3/4 Constitutional Budget Reserve vote by members of the Legislature. When that vote failed, the PFD was cut to $525.

“Even though the Permanent Fund returned record-setting investment earnings this year, the Legislature’s $525 PFD is the lowest amount in history when accounting for inflation,” he said.

As the pandemic fades and many Alaskans continue the uphill climb toward financial recovery, the Legislature’s record-low PFD is not a serious proposition and only advances the agenda of those who wish to eliminate the PFD forever, he said.

Gov. Dunleavy said he understand the significance of vetoing the PFD and is committed to calling on the Legislature this August “to do right by the people and pass a legitimate PFD for Alaskans.”

The $525 dividend passed by the Legislature happened when pro-statutory dividend legislators put their foot down and refused to be bullied into accepting the $1,100 dividend, because the statutory amount sets it closer to $3,500 for every qualifying person in Alaska.

$525 is just 12 percent of the allowable Earnings Reserve Account draw. The draw is subject to appropriation and is set in statute at 5% from fiscal year 2022 onward under rules established in FY 2019.

The cuts Dunleavy made are to many positions that are unfilled or where people have retired from state service. He said no one working for the state will lost their jobs due to the cuts, and he prioritized public safety and justice.

He also cut many capital projects, including ones he had proposed, because he said his proposal was tied to a bond proposal he made to the Legislature that didn’t pass.

Still, the capital budget is the largest one since 2014.

Other details of the final budget include:

  • Removes hundreds of unfilled and unneeded vacant positions in state government added by the House and Senate Finance Committees.
  • Increases funding for public safety and programs to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Establishes an 18-month schedule for the Alaska Marine Highway System. 
  • Protects education funding.
  • Funds the largest capital budget since 2014, creating jobs, infrastructure and economic opportunity.
  • Creates the Statehood Defense Fund to defend Alaska from federal intrusion to halt natural resource production and take away our Second Amendment rights.
  • Preserves general fund dollars by asking local governments, school districts and other entities use the millions in federal relief funds they already have.
  • Directs the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to pay for new programs and services with its own assets – those programs were improperly funded with state revenue
  • Vetoes $2.0 million in per diem for the Alaska Legislature’s FY 22 budget. Lawmakers need to finish the work on protections for the permanent fund and the PFD before paying themselves. 
  • The total FY 22 operating budget is $4.0 billion, a reduction of $450 million, or a 10% reduction from the FY 21 budget. 

“The Legislature met its constitutional duty to avoid a shutdown, but we still have a lot of work to do because the budget remains incomplete. I look forward to sitting down with lawmakers during the upcoming special session to get Alaskans a fair and sizable PFD that reflects my 50/50 proposal, pass a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, will settle the PFD debate once and for all and see if they can muster the votes to pass the CBR reverse sweep so important programs like university scholarships are properly funded,” Dunleavy said.  

Update: Gov. Dunleavy said the $525 PFD is a “slap in the face” of Alaskans and represents the lowest PFD in Alaska history, when considering inflation. “This $500 was just picked out of the air,” he said, adding that all Alaskans understand that legislators making $5,000 a month in per diem in the special session and still not paying Alaskans their fair dividend is wrong.

“Government is well funded right now but many Alaskans are struggling with the fallout from this pandemic,” he said.

This story will be updated. There is much more information coming out that we’ll sort through today.

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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

  • Dunleavy will soon be a shoe-in for re-election. He’s doing everything right for the majority of Alaskans.

  • 👍👍 It’s about time! Stop paying for procrastination.

  • He received a lot of feedback to do exactly that and more. Also it is a way to balance if not the budget the scales of justice.

  • Follow the statutory amount, that’s what Gov Dunleavy campaigned on and that’s what I expect to get. Not $2,350, I want the full $3,500. Gov Dunleavy lost my re-election vote for going against his word and following the Mark Begich plan of reduced dividends rather than fighting for what is OURS.

    • When did Begich have a hand in deciding how much government assistance you received?

    • Dunleavy cannot make the dividend larger. Your beef should be with the legilature, they are solely responsible.

      • Then why did he run for gov on that promise? Full statutory dividends plus pay back for the ones that were robbed from the people.

        • Well when other legislators run that they support the full PFD like Josh Revak and Peter Micciche, you probably think its gonna be easier that what it is. I don’t blame the governor that the Legislature will refuse to give us a full PFD no matter what. I understand that he can’t win every battle, but I do expect him to fight and fight is what he’s at least starting to do again. Let’s see how this plays out.

        • The governor does not appropriate money, the legislature does. The governor submits a budget to the legislature and the legislature ignores it.
          .
          What governor Dunleavy ran on was doing everything he could to see that the statutory dividend was paid and that the people would have a say in how the dividend is paid in future years through a constitutional amendment, something the legislature has fought him on. Personally I think he should have vetoed more, but after his first effort a recall was instituted and that stunted his efforts. If he is able to force the legislature to make a decision then this will be worth it, if not then we will vote a new group in to waste our money.

      • @Tiani:
        What good is that? Half of the legislators think they should BE governor, and the other half already think they ARE.

        • A truer statement could not be made. However, keep in mind that this time the Gov took a hostage – their cherished per deims. August should be hot, or maybe this time the Gov can make a dent. We know the main opposition is from Senator Bert Stedman.

  • My plan is working to perfection. ZERO Dividend. The special session will never come up with an acceptable revision to the Constitution supported by 2/3 of the Legislature. Never in a million years and certainly not in 30 days. This will probably force the Legislature to over-ride his veto of the Dividend. If they don’t have the votes to over-ride – that is even better!
    Dunleavy and the rest of the RINO faction have painted themselves into a corner – again.
    It’s time for Real Republicans to stand up to this nonsense! 6 years of madness over the Deficit Dividend is ENOUGH!

  • A real good job on the part of Gov. Dunleavy. Not all may like him but I was reading about Calif. Gov Gavin Newsome’s recall set for September. I realized how much tyranny we would be under with a governor like him, or Washington State’s Jay Inslee. Yes, the $525 PFD is a slap in the face especially when we read about record earnings.

  • Watch the Dems and RINOs leave it at a $0 PFD. Big mistake to veto it all

  • I guessed correctly. Suzanne delayed reporting Dunleavy signing the budget so she would have the whole story on any veto’s … which is why I never said anything about her silence on it.
    Dunleavy rocks on this one…………………..

    • …and if the legislature doesn’t come up with a suitable PFD, or any PFD at all, Dunleavy’s veto will have us all getting exactly ZERO dollars this year.
      That’s getting rolled.

      • Actual spending power of $525 is pathetic. Dunleavy’s veto is the will of the majority of Alaskans. It turns it into a political “Hail-Mary”.
        No dividend? A small dividend? Then we vote for every tax possible. Sales, income, excise, mill rate, whatever, to stick it to the libs. We are at the “Let them eat cake” stage of national and Alaska politics.
        Maybe someone will start a “No Public Employee Union” initiative? We have the votes if we’re angry enough.
        There may be no “Bastille” to storm but there’s plenty of oxen to gore.

  • On top of the Deficit Dividend Fiasco, we have another fiasco going along concerning the reverse sweep (funds taken into and out of the CBR ) and the projects and tax credits funded with additional borrowing from the CBR.

    A careful examination of Alaska Constitution Article 9 Section 17 Budget Reserve Fund reveals that the Legislature has NOT been following the Constitutional Requirements which has led to a virtual depletion of the CBR account ($12 Billion depletion over the past 6-7 years).

    Dunleavy, Wielechowski and the Gang of RINO’s have lost their constitutional arguments at every turn – so what’s their solution? Change the Constitution!
    I hope I never see the day that could possibly happen.

    • More fraud from the big banger. Go preach to your own people and save Suzanne some bandwidth. Go study the law some more, fellow. Try the 9th grade civics desk book.

    • Hear, hear!

  • Use the money to pay down some of the $750 million owed in oil tax credits

  • Stand strong! Non illigitimi carborundum!

  • Another thing:
    I do support changing the Constitution to limit the Legislature to a 5% annual draw without approval of 2/3 of voters. This should not be necessary but unfortunately governments typically spend every cent they can get their fingers on. So we have to get the Legislature’s fingers off the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve.

    I would also replace the current Dividend with an account in the Alaska Individual Trust Fund (my concept) which would be invested in parallel with the Permanent Fund by the Permanent Fund Corporation. Each year the Legislature would deposit surplus funds into the Trust Fund and each resident would be issued an equal amount of shares. Every year you get more shares, depending on the amount of the surplus, AND your prior shares will have appreciated (over time) like stock portfolios. The Shares are tax exempt until you remove them for cash (taxable) or possibly for tax-exempt reasons (education, healthcare, etc.).

    You could pay a lot of money for bad advice – but good advice is free today – lol

    • Even more fraud. Go run for office, so we can watch you stumble around. Go take some jr. high finance courses then get back to us.

    • Well, I’m not ready to go that far, but it’s probably a lot better idea than letting the Legis. or the Greedy Heathens run the deal.
      Oh yes, and the Governor.

  • I’ll risk my PFD to take a stand as the Gov seems to be doing! Sometimes it’s what you gotta do. Win or lose.

  • Great job!!!

  • Nothing has been done to cut actual government spending. Simply cutting capital projects is not reducing the size of our oversized state government. Still not doing the hard things and the proverbial can is still being kicked down the road.

    • Spot on.

      I want to discuss why we fund the University to the same tune as Washington funds UW. 🤔 Not nearly as many students!

      I am pro education, but the board of regents is derelict of duty when it comes to an overinflated budget. They make concessions and sometimes eliminate jobs… entry level ones. The Admin offices are so bloated they cannot even provide basic needs for instructors and students. Trim the fat cats.

      • U of A is a white elephant. Most graduates go south for work. Shut it down and save three billion per year.

  • Wow…he found his balls finally 👏 good job gov

  • Why didn’t he veto the whole damn thing?

    Once again, crouching small in Alaska.

  • How ’bout they just give Alaskans what we are owed? The FULL AMOUNT, plus what they owe us from years past! Anything else is just theft.

    • Spoken like a true, entitled Alaskan. “Where’s mine?”

      • Spoken like a true, entitled statist: “What belongs to the individual really belongs to the government.”

      • The earnings do not belong to the Government. The Government has no right to it. It’s a matter of Natural Law, as well as Statute…DON’T STEAL.

  • Chris Nyman,

    Do you honestly think you are a conservative or even a conservative Republican, and do you honestly expect others to believe that you are either?

  • This is a politically smart move – but the left will try to pin it all on the Tall Man. Crooks in congress will escape again…

  • I was hoping for more, well I was really hoping for less budget by way of more vetoes. This should have happened a couple years ago so the children who are our elected representatives would have had to face reality.
    .
    The $525 dividend that these clowns approved isn’t even two days of per diem for the legislature. We need a new legislature, and we need new voters to make that happen…it’s past time to get those who have been on the sidelines and too busy to vote involved.

    • Hmmm, STEVE-O, do you still get a PFD? How much time do you spend in AK?

      • Greg,
        I spend every second of every day here, last time I left the state was about 5 years ago due to my mothers death.
        .
        I’m guessing your checks are issued by the State of Alaska that’s why you take these issues so personally. It’s understandable why you are so biased.

  • Well done Governor, keep on that trail, tighten those reins and get us our dividend!

  • Well done Governor, keep on that trail, tighten those reins and get us our dividend!

  • Fantastic!

  • Good for him. The legislature needs almost 100% turnover. Get rid of them.

  • MD … You’re exercising true leadership, holding these jokers (ie – legislators) feet to the fire, holding them accountable. I’m sure there’s a few dimwits whining and crying, but don’t pay any attention, keep forging forward.
    Good Job!

  • The per diem needs to be taken away from the legislature. When was the last time they actually managed to get their job done in the regular session? If they can’t get their work done they don’t deserve to get this extra money. If the room. And board s coming out of their pockets, I bet the work starts to get done.

  • From a student of Alaska politics:
    Glad to see a veto of the unfair PFD. And a better explanation of what was really vetoed. I expected him to veto that PFD. Also, by vetoing the fund that the legislature draws their per diem from, and seeing the cries of pain from Stedman and company who thought they could ride rough-shod over him, he has signaled That he has had enough. And that vetoed fun is a good bargaining ship to get what he wants. Great job, Gov!

  • It took a lot of guts to do what he did, but Gov Dunleavy stands tall. Our Legislature is an abject failure. I for one will be actively campaigning against our turncoat Legislator Kelly Merrick who gave away a majority to Stutes and the Dems. She failed Eagle River, but I’m glad to see the Governor stopped that runaway freight train. And those rat bastards in Juneau should not a plugged nickel of per diem – they failed this state.

  • Way to go, Governor Dunleavy!

  • I agree with Elizabeth Henry, nothing whatsoever has yet been done by any elected official to make the tough decisions required of our economy. I think the House Republicans also believe that and I am hopeful they use what little leverage they have left to force some real and honest budget cuts (for the first time). I am happy Public Broadcasting was cut. I believe the $4 billion and more should be transferred from the Earnings Reserve to the corpus. I also believe that taking $500 million out of education would actually improve standardized test results, and taking $500 million out of Medicaid would reduce medical costs for all Alaskans. I am heartened that the Legislature wanted none of the new general obligation debt as it was a terrible idea. You know the capital budget pays for lots of lobbyists but very little of capital spending stays in the state as we produce so little of what it buys.

  • Now you’re talking Mike. Keep up the good work, better late than never.

  • I don’t count on the PFD. however, one of the of 60 members of the original group deciding how the PFD was to be distributed stated to me that the PFD payout was determined by the earnings of the previous year.. So how did we get into the mess we are in. Seems to me the Legislature needs to cut the budget and allow Alaskans to receive the share that was originally meant for them to have.

  • Excellent job, Gov!

    Alaskans are roiling at the legislators (like Natasha VonRipOff) who are arrogant elitists who dare to retroactively indulge themselves with back pay per diem contrary to the clear intent of the law regarding their failure to do their job in a designated timely manner. Ripping us off, ignoring the law, and specifically acting above and outside of the law while simultaneously claiming struggling pandemic impacted Alaskans are greedy is infuriating. The overspending to support their cronies while simultaneously treating the people of Alaska like livestock to be milked of depleted hard earned household budgets has to end right now. We have had enough.

    Also, Natasha should be censured by her party for her insulting selfish and bizarre attitude toward the people she is supposed to represent. It is pretty apparent her interests lie in stripping us of what little we have and distributing our monies to special interests that benefit her stranglehold on political power. Like I said, ENOUGH!

    Thank you for your courage Governor Dunleavy!

  • If we don’t get our PFD this year, there will be no need to file for our PFD next year.

  • I’m pleased the Governor is finally “standing tall for Alaska” Thank you sir!

    • Good on you, Julie. I agree, and I like your name.

  • You know, there are those of us who are not crunched by low PFDs but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get them. We own a house, we pay taxes on that home every year even though it belongs to us, and yet we don’t have any mineral rights. The PFD, contrary to what most believe, is not a reward for living in Alaska. It is money that is distributed to shareholders(residents of Alaska) in the wealth of the resources here in Alaska. The name, Permanent Fund Dividend, should be a clue as to its intent. It is a dividend, it is permanent and there is a STATUTORY formula for distribution. That means it is part of the law. Another thing to note is that these so-called legislators who wanted to pass the lowest PFD in history after a very profitable year were making $5000 a month in per diem during the special session. How’s that for greed and corruption? I think they should all be fired because they obviously don’t know how to do their jobs.

  • Thank you, Governor Dunleavy.

  • No real support for men and more resources for women’s groups and shelters. I am probably going to get the replies of nothing happens to men or complaining that women need to be protected. How about some equality in available services? More help is available to women than men and we continuously pay these private organizations to fulfill these needs through state money. Look at how Fairbanks, a town of 30K, has a homeless coordinator that makes over 110K a year (guy has a degree in public administration, or a Crackerjack box degree as most of us would say). We have multiple charities that apparently need someone to get paid six figures to help them actually do their jobs. Tax money going to individuals to coordinate with the bloated services.

    Increases funding for public safety and programs to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault.

    How about we fund a Men’s domestic violence shelter that does not use the Duluth model that basically makes everything a man’s fault. Nobody wants to address issues with male suicide, death from violence, and lack of attainment, but hey we are doing more to tell men they are abusers and bad.

    I live in Fairbanks and looked into what is available here from the shelter. I am not going to add my opinion, but I see resources and classes for women & girls. Boys are told to not be abusers for their class.

  • Look! He’s beginning to stand again! Let’s see if he decides to stand tall.

  • Interesting…. has anyone that has the numbers figured out how much of a per diem cut it was per legislator? Would be interesting to see if it’s the same amount as that of the stolen PFD….

    • The per diem cut is small change in the sate budget. But if it got the Legis. to kick into action during the 90 day session, it might be worth it.
      Also, cut a similar amount from the governor’s budget if the Legis. doesn’t deliver. I mean, we’re all in this together, aren’t we?

    • Lori: That is Dunleavy’s habit and practice. Probably is equal to the stolen PFD.

  • We need to follow the dark money trail and figure out how to put the screws to the ones who are controlling our legislators.

  • Happy 4th Dunleavy!
    Hey while you got that ax swinging how about having Alaska Airlines remove “Alaska” from their name, they don’t represent this state as we don’t represent hate and tyranny.

  • For all you Dunleavy cheerleaders, did you see the article where he stupidly missed $4 billion in the state budget?

    4 billion which will probably allow the legislature to ignore him once again.

    Is past time to admit the man is not up to the job. Instead of kissing his backside, start looking for a real Republican (no RINOs) to run against him.

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