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Thursday, March 21, 2019
HomePolitics and PolicyGovernor’s Permanent Fund pay-back bill sent to three House committees

Governor’s Permanent Fund pay-back bill sent to three House committees

COULD BE DEATH KNELL FOR RETURN OF PAST FUNDS TO ALASKANS

Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s bills to pay back the portion of the Permanent Fund dividend that was taken from Alaskans by Gov. Bill Walker has hit its first major roadblock: The Democrat-controlled House has referred the bills to three committees.

HB 46 and HB 47 were sent to State Affairs, Judiciary, and Finance Committees. State Affairs is chaired by Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, and vice chaired by Anchorage Democrat Zack Fields. Judiciary is chaired by Anchorage Democrat Matt Claman.

HB 46 and HB 47 would pay back between $600 and $700 million a year over three years to Alaskans who were eligible for the dividend in the years it was cut roughly in half by Walker.

SB 23, the companion legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate, was only referred to two committees: State Affairs and Finance. A similar bill by Democrat Bill Wielechowski, SB 13, also received just two committee referrals in the Senate.

At the same time, HB 31, sponsored by Kreiss-Tompkins, proposes to take $5.5 billion out of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account and place it into the principal of the Permanent Fund.

Kreiss-Tompkins’ bill would be an unstructured, one-time draw of nearly one-third of the reserve account, a profound impact on the fund, considering the other pressures on it. Yet the bill only received two committee assignments, one being Kreiss-Tomkins’ State Affairs Committee, which will be friendly to it. The other being Finance, where it will be managed by Democrat Neal Foster, the co-chair of Finance who is in charge of the operating budget.

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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

  • I’m pretty sure that unless Mike Dunleavy finds another way to repay those PFD funds, we will never see a penny of them.

    If Bill Walker was able to steal the money from Alaskans with just his signature, why can’t Dunleavy use his signature to give it back to us Alaskans?

    I understand Dunleavy wants to follow the proper political process to do it, but given what Gary Knopp just pulled in the legislature, I think it’s time to face the facts we are playing hardball now.

    In other words, no more “Mr. Nice Guy” Governor Dunleavy.

  • And THIS is exactly why the Republicans in Kenai need to begin a recall campaign against Gary Knopp!

    • Not sure if any real attempt will be made. Our own Alaskan Republican Party didn’t do a great job on vetting Knopp, so what makes us think they’ll do anything in recalling him? I would love to see something, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  • If we really want to avoid taxes as long as possible and have some sort of reasonable education system, etc. it seems pretty backwards to drain the PF earnings reserve for “back dividends”.

    The PFD is not in the constitution and shouldn’t be. I’d rather use the earnings to support fiscally responsible state spending than distribute it and have the feds take 1/3 of it anyway. Given the harsh budget, these bills are Dead on Arrival!

    • The key to your whole point is fiscally responsible state spending, it is the entire reason we have a Permanent Fund to begin with. Legislators wasted money as fast as it came in the door and thus the PF was created, the dividend was a secondary thought to locking up the money brought in by the states oil wealth and keeping it away from the Legislators who would otherwise spend it.

      I don’t think Dunleavy’s budget gets us to a fiscally responsible spending level yet, but it’s a good start.

      • Steve O, you are exactly right! Some of us who were here before and during Governor Jay Hammond’s leadership know the reason behind the establishment of the PFD!!!

    • Mr. Wright;
      You are free to return your dividend check to the state government if you wish. (A friend of mine actually does.) But it is the only government program that treats everyone equally as is the principle stated in Article 1, Section 1 of Alaska’s constitution, so it isn’t appropriate for the legislature to take any amount of the dividend away from other people who might not agree with your priorities.

    • Define fiscally responsible state spending 😂

      • Budgeting only what comes into the State Coffers.

      • Spending in the Budget only what you take in from revenue

    • We pay nearly double the average US rate per student…and have a failing system. It’s about time to look at something other than money when ASD employees earn far more than the average citizen, and have far better benefits. The Democratic Party shows how regressive it really is when it steals from the poorest to pad the retirements of the upper middle class.

    • That is the problem right there, “If we really want to avoid taxes as long as possible.” Is it right that we make future Alaskan’s pay taxes while we have freeloaded for the past 40 years on income from a non-renewable resource that is for all Alaskan, present and future? You are right on about the PF that was a decent move back in the day. But we need to start talking about an income tax. We should be capturing some of that income that is made here but leaves every 2 weeks or after the season.

  • If anyone did not know: These bills are at the heart of the budget battle. If the Governor really wants to “deliver” on his campaign promise to pay-back the prior dividends, he will have to compromise on his budget cuts. On the other hand, if he considers the budget cuts more important, he will not require that the PFD bills be passed, and the bills will die and no additional dividend money will be paid.

    • compromise on his budget, really thats what been going on for the 26 years I’ve lived here and look where it gotten us. The same with the Fed Gov, compromise has the nation in dept 22,000,000,000.00 dollars when are people going to wake up and have our governments live within there means like I have to.

      • I agree with your sentiment but interest groups spend millions to lobby the Legislature. I am simply noting how things are going to play out before the Legislature goes home. The Governor wants two things: A reduced budget and the PFD make-up payments. If he wants the latter, he will have to compromise on the former.

  • Richard, supposing Alaska is split 60/40 in favor/against the back PFD payout, that leaves 40% out of 735,000 potential checks voluntarily returned back to the State. If all 294,000 of you Dunleavy haters give your retroactive PFD checks (at $3600.00) back to the state General Fund, that comes out to well over one $billion which is enough to bridge the budget shortfalls that the Lefties are bitching about. So put your money where your mouth is and have your favorite Democrats introduce a bill that allows the retro PFD to be voluntarily returned to the General Fund for financing Leftie’s state programs and agencies. Unfortunately, we all know that Lefties won’t do this because Lefties love free money and will cash the checks that Dunleavy provides.

    • Are you advocating getting free money while denigrating “lefties” as loving free money. All Alaskan have been getting free money for the past 40 years that we have operated this state with oil royalties.. We are going to have to have an income tax or some other taxes in the future. Oil isn’t going to last and it will never be $100 a barrel again. Is it right that we make future Alaskan’s pay taxes while we have freeloaded for the past 40 years on income from a non-renewable resource that is for all Alaskan, present and future? What is the right thing to do?

  • Richard, the PFD was never set up to support “fiscally responsible state spending”.it was set up for the people. After the people get it we’re do you think most of that money goes? Right back into the state’s economy.
    Go away!! Give us back “OUR” money!!

  • If Governor Dunleavy just follows the existing statute that outline PFD payments, all eligible Alaskans will receive a full PFD.
    Bill Walker didn’t follow the existing PFD law 2 years ago and the last legislature followed his lead last year.
    Dunleavy can follow the law requiring full PFD payment if he elects to.

  • We have given our PFD’s since it’s inseption in 1977 to property taxes u
    So inadvertently it was returned to the state via the borough. Lazy Mountian Jim R.I.P., had the PFD figured out to the penny to pay it out in a lump sum retaining the original (x-amount per year of residency) I still favor that plan pay it out then leave it to legislature to spend as they will, may as well get it while you can because the politicians are sure to take it.

  • I think I’ve been converted. Time to stop wasting our money going into communities that wouldn’t exist if it were not for the largesse of oil companies and fisheries. The only roads we need are the ones to resources. Quit pouring money into recreational roads like the Parks, Glenn and Seward Highway. Those jyst serve the welfare leeches. Everyone should get used to wood heated cabins and candlelight while homeschooling there kids and be thankful they live in a State where they get a PFD check and be left to their libertarian ways.

    Capital moves to Fairbanks, airports in Deadhorse and Fairbanks, maintain the Alaska, Richardson and Dalton Highways with 2 on 2 off maintenance camps. Anyone who doesn’t live on the abandoned highway easements or remaining roads and can’t hack bush life can pack it up! Richard Proenneke here we come. Or Chris McCandless for those inept amongst us.

    Glorious paradise!

    • Really Recreational roads? If not for the Glenn & Parks Highway Fairbanks and the North Slope would not be in existence. How do you think all the heavy machinery would get to the oil fields? You sure as hell can not fly all of it into the interior.

  • I hear the sucking sounds now. Once the legislature gets their hands on the people’s chunk, and then that is gone, then what? Then the income tax, then what? Zero “real” revenue sources, then what? Commie State and stepford citizen zombies…..