Much as it did in 2008 when oil prices were high, the House Democrat majority has revealed its plan to pay qualifying Alaskans a one-time “energy relief check” in addition to the annual Permanent Fund dividend, whatever amount the Legislature agrees to pay Alaskans out of the 2023 budget.
“The check will help supplement Alaskans who are hurting from rising fuel costs, record inflation, and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the House majority said in a statement.
The reality is, this is the other half of the dividend that was due Alaskans in 2021, when the legislative majority only paid half of what was statutorily due.
“Between the negative economic effects of COVID and escalating energy costs, our residents are suffering,” said Speaker Louise Stutes. “With the influx of new revenue, we are in a position to provide an Energy Relief Check to Alaskans and that is exactly what the House Coalition intends to do.”
“The cost of fuel is skyrocketing across the country, but nowhere is that more acutely being felt than in rural Alaska,” said Rep. Neal Foster, the Democrat who co-chairs the Finance Committee. “An Energy Relief Check of $1,300, on top of the Permanent Fund Dividend, is exactly what Alaskans need now.”
“As the Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee, I see the budget impacts that high energy prices are having on Alaskan families,” said Rep. Kelly Merrick, the Republican from Eagle River who has joined the Democrat-led caucus. “With the amount of revenue coming through the state right now, providing an Energy Relief Check is the right thing to do.”
“Fuel prices could very well double by the end of the year,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat who re-registered with no party. “This Energy Relief Check will provide immediate assistance to the Alaskans who are bearing the brunt of these sharply climbing energy costs.”
In 2008, the Legislature approved an Energy Rebate, which was agreed to by then-Gov. Sarah Palin. But that year, they also received their entire Permanent Fund dividend.