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.
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.