Gov. Mike Dunleavy: If we're going to save the dividend, it will have to be this year - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, July 24, 2021
HomeColumnsGov. Mike Dunleavy: If we’re going to save the dividend, it will have to be this year

Gov. Mike Dunleavy: If we’re going to save the dividend, it will have to be this year

By GOV. MIKE DUNLEAVY

Support for protecting the Permanent Fund dividend in the Alaska Constitution has reached unprecedented levels. Nearly 100 Alaskans called into the House Judiciary Committee hearing to voice their support and thousands more have sent letters of support.

The “let them eat cake” crowd comprised of the Anchorage Daily News editorial board and once-powerful former state senators are clearly getting nervous as they lash out at our increasingly bipartisan plan. To top it off, 17 out of 20 senators have now voted yes on a $2,350 PFD – the highest PFD amount in Alaska’s history. 

This support couldn’t come at a more critical juncture. Last year, the Legislature “gifted” Alaskans a $992 dividend. This year, the House proposed just $500, but ultimately, it failed to pass. Since my days in the Senate, I’ve consistently warned that the PFD is facing an existential threat from those who would rather see every penny of Alaska’s shared wealth used up by state government. The point of no return is rapidly approaching, and if we’re going to save the PFD, it must be this year.

That’s why Alaskans must be given the chance to vote on protecting the PFD in the constitution. A majority of the Legislature has made it abundantly clear that following the law is not an option, and in fact, the full statutory dividend failed to pass in both legislative bodies this year. As I’ve said hundreds of times before, we must follow the law or change it with a vote of the people.

That also means enshrining the PFD in the constitution so that it can never be tampered with again, and to ensure government cannot spend more from the Permanent Fund than what is owed to the people. A 50-50 split is not perfect, but it presents a path forward in a Legislature where most members are openly hostile to the dividend. The resulting $2,350 dividend is expected to increase to $3,263 over the next decade based on a conservative growth rate of 6.25%, and because the PFD will be in the constitution, that money can never again be touched by lawmakers without a vote of the people.

Some have rightly wondered why 50-50? Anyone who knows me is aware that no one has worked harder since 2016 to save the full PFD. But as I’ve said since my Senate days, without constitutionalizing the PFD, the shrinking dividends are a clear precursor to the ultimate end of the PFD program.

As a consistent defender of the PFD, I truly believe this may be our final chance. Last year’s $992 dividend represented only 20% of the Permanent Fund draw. If some in the Legislature had their way, your share would fall to about 10% or less this year. This is what’s driving me and many defenders of Jay Hammond’s vision to ask for your support of SJR 6. A $2,350 PFD in exchange for a guaranteed, and ever-increasing amount is something I can make peace with to secure the future of the PFD for our grandchildren, and most Alaskans I talk with feel the same.

Ultimately, Alaskans’ voices are the only ones that matter. As I’ve consistently stated, you must have the final say when it comes to making changes to your shareholder rights. This basic tenet of our democracy was ignored by the previous administration, and if we’re going to protect the Permanent Fund and the PFD, we must return these decisions to the hands of the people just like Alaskans did 45 years ago when they chose to establish the Permanent Fund in the constitution. This is exactly what SJR 6 does.

While recent history has demonstrated that hoping the Legislature does the right thing is a fool’s errand, we are fortunate now that there is a growing consensus among legislators that the Permanent Fund and the dividend must be preserved through a constitutional amendment and a vote of the people. This fickle window of support will not last forever. The time to act is now. 

Politicians have been saying for years, “We’ll get to this next year.” Enough is enough. We save the PFD now; we save it forever. Give the people a chance to solve this with a constitutional amendment so we never have to wonder if there will be a PFD this year.

If you’ve come to the same conclusion, I encourage you to contact your legislators and let them know that you support putting the PFD in the constitution forever. You can do so with our easy-to-use tool at akgov.us/pfd or by visiting gov.alaska.gov/pfd.

Regardless of your position on the plan, it’s been an honor serving as your governor. I will always fight for Alaskans to have the opportunity to vote on your Permanent Fund and PFD so that we can constitutionally protect them for generations to come. Thank you for all your support and prayers and I look forward to moving our state forward together. 

Mike Dunleavy is the 12th governor of Alaska.

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Latest comments

  • Shall I assume the Anchorage Daily News won’t be publishing this brief penned by our governor?

  • If you have to shut the government down to fix the PFD situation, then do it Governor. The Private sector faced massive shutdowns during this past year and now is on the rebound. Sometimes you have to cut the fruit tree back to make it produce bigger and better fruit. Use all your tools against the left and then only then will the relent to the will of the people. Maximum benefit to the people of Alaska may mean smaller government even if it is by using the bully pulpit.

  • With the exception of his horribly bad position on the PFD, I generally like this governor.

    I should have prefaced my comment with the disclosure that I am against redistribution of wealth and against Universal Basic Income.

  • I support the statutory dividend 100%. I also am realistic and can see that the statutory dividend will never be followed again. I do not think this is a perfect plan and I disagree with a few key components of this plan, honestly I’m still not convinced that putting the PFD in the state constitution is the right plan. I do however think that on an issue like this a vote of the people is absolutely needed, if not required. In the absence of following the statutory dividend or a better plan I support SJR 6.

  • Where was this fervor in Wasilla? When you actually had them on the ropes and folder like a cheap suit? Then followed it with giving back the cuts you got from the UA system? Then didn’t red pen the reverse sweep?

    You had your chance and lost it. We’re all paying the price.

  • Not sure I understand. The legislature gets their half, plus half of our half? Sounds like the Joker in The Dark Knight. “How much do you want?” “Half.”
    So three-quarters then becomes the new half … and then next time they will want half of our quarter? This isn’t being driven by Alaska legislators. It’s being driven by outside interests who want ALL of it.

  • No, it would not be half of the current PFD amount, it would be “an amount equal to fifty percent” of the total Permanent Fund draw. If the draw from the Permanent Fund is $3 billion, then Alaskans would receive $1.5 billion. Currently, Alaskans aren’t getting anywhere near half (something like 20%).

    The percentage would not be adjustable in the future without Alaskans’ consent since it would be written directly into the constitution.

  • Dunleavy I don’t believe one greasy word out of your mouth.

  • I am a staunch pro-Trump conservative, but I do not support the Socialist Handout AKA Permanent Fund Dividend. No one is entitled to a moochers check from the government!

  • Jon..
    Maybe you should do a little research for the reason behind the PFD before you declare it a damn handout.

  • Please don’t back down on this one, governor. I’ve not met a Lefty yet who returned their PFD to the state Department of Revenue. A full, statutory PFD as you promised, sir. Besides his lieutenant governor, the small PFD is the main reason Bill Walker cashed in his chips early. And despite their best efforts, the Lefty’s have not been able to recall you.

  • Easily spoken by one who must surely have more than enough, however there are plenty of seniors, single moms and low wage earners out there who are struggling to make their ends meet. These are the ones to whom the PFD means the difference between groceries and meds, or none.

  • The way things are headed, it will all end up in some politician’s relative’s offshore bank account. In the morning while you slept.

  • Jon Alderson, the P-fund from it’s origin was a tool to limit wasteful Government Spending. The funds purpose was to keep a portion of the Oil Wealth away from the politico’s who would spend it on their special interest Pal’s pet projects. It is your $ and was never intended to fund government.

    Government is like a Garbage Bear coming for your trash cans. Like a Garbage Bear, Government will never be satisfied. In fact the more it raids your trash bins the more Garbage Bears it creates to vex you and your progeny into perpetuity. The PFD is not a perfect instrument however it has up until the past few years delivered sums directly to the people that would otherwise gone for more Government Waste.

  • Oh Jon, you already get lots of handouts. The state of Alaska belongs to the people of Alaska so that means all the natural utilities belong to the people too and also any revenues produced by the state belong to the people. We’re just getting what’s already ours. Now Jon, if you eat anything and I assume you do, whether it be peanut butter or peas or strawberries or bread or meat, you are ingesting various handouts from the government. Surely you must know the government pays farmers and ranchers to help them out and keep the market stable. Ultimately, when we sell wheat to China, are very government is helping China out by subsidizing our farmers. Surely you must know all this Jon unless your head has been in the sand since FDR. If you don’t want your PFD, I’m sure there’s somebody in Alaska that would gladly take it off your hands.

  • I was just thinking Jon, if you receive mail then it is subsidized by the United States government. If you live in the bush then the pce helps keep your energy and fuel costs in check. The PFD is one of the smallest contributions from the government to its citizens. You could have picked a bigger endowment if you wanted to stop receiving help from the government.

  • If it’s the law now, to give us are full PFD.
    Then change to a new law.
    Why do you think anything would change.
    They will, still break the law and steal our money.

  • It’s good to see some pushback from MRAK readers against the Governor’s continual effort to achieve Universal Basic Income. I could go on for days about the perverse effect of the Dividend on our State. I have to wonder what Alexendria Ocasio Cortez thinks of Governor Dunleavy’s Plan?

    True Conservatives know that the first order of business is to balance the State budget without over-drawing from the Permanent Fund, borrowing from the CBR (which must be re-paid), or using federal stimulus funds to shift funding sources around.

    The idea of Alaskans voting on the size of their Dividend flies against the very foundation of our representative form of government. It would be essentially mob-rule and at some point force the State to impose new taxes to fund the Dividend. We are so lucky to live in a State where our oil-derived Trust Fund (The Permanent Fund) can pay for government services without imposing an onerous tax burden on the People.

    I accept that, as much as I dislike the current Dividend program, it appears that recovering oil prices and a soaring stock market have bailed it out again….at least until the next stock market crash.

    • Pushback? You must have failed reading comprehension 101 because the vast majority of folks here are in favor of receiving a PFD, not waste it on bloated gov spending like you insist on doing. If you want to give your PFD to the gov then by all means, have at it but as for the rest of us, we’ll gladly accept the royalties on minerals and such extracted from our lands.

  • GOV’S OFFICE CT: OK, but what assurance will we have that the draw will be made fair and square? So many ways to manipulate it, and still leave us with little or nothing. Our legislature hasn’t been following the law, nor the constitution anyway, so why would they suddenly follow anything new?
    The real problem is “Citizens United”, and all the dark money in our election process. Why not a bill forbidding dark money? Now that would have an outcome I could trust. It could cure 99% of everything else.
    Could it become a US Constitutional problem? Well, put the burden on the USSC to overcome it. There’s already several groups fighting “Citizens United”. Rinse and repeat.
    Once the government loses the trust of the people, it must rule by force. So all you elected officials had better clean up your act, or see America become the latest failing USSR/CCP … where none of you will have any future in it.

  • Nothing will be solved nor will the Permanent Fund be protected and preserved unless we first reduce the operating budget. In hearings this year legislators agreed, admitted, and proclaimed that the operating budget has not been reduced by even one dollar, and the Governor needs to work with that new honesty. The budget is far too large for 730,000 even if we did not have a huge population cohort that chooses to not work, cannot work, or chooses to live where there is no steady work. The arithmetic says we have to honestly reduce the operating budget by a real and meaningful amount. All we have done thus far is cut the small parts of the budget to increase the large parts of the budget. It’s at best silly (as opposed to dishonest) to say we have to take $3 billion from the Permanent Fund in order to protect it. There is no morality to a bloated budget. A $12 billion 2021 budget (all funds, including supplementals, subterfuges, etc.) represents $16,500 per person, and that would be unsustainable even if Boeing, Microsoft, GM, and Amazon located major operations here. Governor Dunleavy ran on cutting spending, and just because that failed in his one attempt he should not then raid the Permanent Fund, offering a one-time high PFD to get us on board.

  • Jay Hammond warned the Alaskan People years ago about letting Politicians get their hands on the PFD. How true the warning was.

  • So by taking 50% of POMV for Dividends, that leaves a shortfall to balance the State budget without massive cuts. Assuming you are not over-drawing the POMV, do you propose to impose new taxes on The People? Or tax increases on the oil companies? A serious question.

  • I am a staunch Alaskan. A citizen/shareholder. The PFD was designed for us because we are part of the State. If you are one that has the snobbish mentality and wonder why it is supposed to be that the citizens are supposed to be the government? Officials are supposed to represent us not steal from us. But what else do you think they do? Not all but it has been shown who is for the shareholders of this State, once again we the people of Alaska are the shareholders. You do not have to apply for it, but even though you might think it is welfare but I will be you still applied for it right?
    If they want to get rid of the PFD then give the shareholders their total portion of it and then get rid of of the PFD.
    It is up to the people to decide. Yes, I do support the Governor 100%

  • Jon Alderson, this is not a government “socialist” handout. It is owed to us, as we own the mineral rights of our state. Even Alaskan staunch pro-Trump supporters agree with this.

  • It’s about time readers see something typed from Gov. Dunleavy fingertips on Must Read Alaska.

    MRAK is growing to be more than just a blog. Alaska spokespersons (community leaders) can’t politically afford to continue dismissing.

    Alaskans are getting tired of our impoverished lives enough to stop reading the mainstream media sources.Not enough Alaskans are turning out to read community leaders’ ADN contributions under opinions section, and the ADN crowd who do still use ADN only wants to read one side. Hahaha.
    That Dunbar made a mistake ignoring MRAK’s mayoral candidate interview offer this spring. But he still trying to find his voice and figure out which side he stands on issues. Hahaha.

  • I’m sorry Hunter, I should have said “some MRAK readers”. BTW did you get your rightful share of the fish tax and hunting license revenue too? As for me, I have cashed every single PFD and will continue to do so without guilt or reservation. Sounds like you have a bone to pick with the Alaska Supreme Court and I look forward to reading your legal brief in your future lawsuit. Maybe you will do better than Sen. Wielechowski did.

  • Thanks Gov. keep up the good work!!!

  • We’ve been here before. Roger Cremo started it in the 90s by suggesting we forward fund state government. Nada. Zero political will in Juneau. Several other efforts failed. Most recently, the 2016 attempt by the Alaska’s Future organization was pilloried by every media outlet in Alaska and state employees. Why? because Alaska’s Future had the audacity to suggest that, in addition to using a portion of the permanent fund earnings to fund government, that we start an income tax AND cut state government funding. This will go nowhere. All the usual suspects like the state employees’ unions, the Democrat Caucus, The Alaska AFL-CIO and others will line up to oppose it while the Alaska state car drives onward toward and finally over the fiscal cliff.

  • Hmmm…..something isn’t adding up. During the campaign for governor:

    Dunleavy: Full dividend under the traditional formula, with back pay from other years

    Begich: 50/50 split and put in the constitution

    Who’s plan is the governor currently pushing? Sure sounds like Begich’s……

  • Most elected officials head to Juneau saying they will work for the people and end up quarterbacking for state entities and unions. PFD checks help children so they can go to school. They pay for breakfast, clothes, shoes, school supplies, heat at home so they can study, etc. Juneau takes the PFD money from kids and gives it to over staffed schools with bloated budgets. Does stealing money from children so teachers can get a raise make sense?

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