Gov. Mike Dunleavy did not veto the partial Permanent Fund dividend passed by the Legislature on Tuesday, but he called for a fourth special session to deal with the rest of the PFD and to solve the state’s fiscal problems. That special session starts on Oct. 1.
“In a year when the Alaska Permanent Fund earned almost $20 billion, and the total value of the fund exceeds $83 billion, there are members of the legislature that would love to eliminate the PFD, and grow government, regardless of the harm it would cause Alaskans. Our state is still dealing with the economic ramifications of this virus, the distractions of employment issues, the lack of available workers and the disruptions to the supply chains. While we continue to debate the fiscal future of this state, the people of Alaska need help now,” he said.
But the Legislature took $4 billion of those earnings and popped it into the principle of the Permanent Fund, which cannot be touched.
What became evident on Tuesday is that there are enough legislators who simply don’t believe in a full statutory Permanent Fund dividend, and there were others who thought the governor would veto the dividend again, as he did when the Legislature passed a $525 dividend, and were gambling that a zero dividend would then hang around the governor’s neck as he goes into an election year.
But Gov. Dunleavy surprised them when he decided to not veto the partial dividend, but instead take the deal, and then bring them back to finish the job.