HB 1005 effectively dead - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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HB 1005 effectively dead

DIVIDEND CALCULATION REMAKE WAS TOO MUCH FOR ALASKANS

The Alaska Legislature is mostly cleared out of the Capitol, and Must Read Alaska has learned that the controversial bill offered by House Finance Co-chairs Rep. Tammie Wilson and Neal Foster has been swept under the rug. It is unlikely to be seen again.

Speaker Bryce Edgmon has indicated he doesn’t want the bill to advance out of committee, which explains why House Finance has avoided meeting all week, in spite of published meeting notifications.

HB 1005 would issue a full $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend this year to eligible Alaskans, but would cut their future dividends in half. It also would tap the Constitutional Budget Reserve to pay for those dividends.

The House Finance Committee hearing on the bill was a barn-burner, with testimony going 99-1 against the bill. Callers had various reasons for not liking it, and in their two-minute testimony window, they let the committee leaders have it last week.

Now, a bill is being drafted in the Senate to tackle the dividend, which has not been incorporated in the operating budget that is still under negotiation. It may be offered on Monday, as most business in the Legislature is shut down for the remainder of the week.

That bill, which could be numbered SB 1002, would issue the full dividend and tap the Constitutional Budget Reserve, but would not put in the contingency language that required halved dividends in the years ahead.

Critics say if the bill had passed it would have suffered defeat in a voter referendum. And the political liabilities associated with it were making lawmakers queasy.

The Senate leadership may be realizing that not providing a budget to the governor in time for him to sign it would lead to a government shutdown and that it would be difficult for legislators to deflect the blame away from themselves. A new PFD bill that is more palatable is now the way forward, although this is the sausage of lawmaking, and sausage can change.

[Read: Dueling layoff memos]

The special session can last as long as 30 days, which means it will end June 14, if not sooner. The governor has indicated he will send out layoff notices on that day if he has no budget. He has also been signaling he’ll call a second special session in Wasilla.

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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 like alot of other Alaskans are getting very upset and tired of these people who are not taking care of their business in their allotted time and then having to go into special sessions spending more of our taxpayer’s money and padding their own paychecks. Making the governor the bad guy having to lay people off he needs to lay them off or no pay during special sessions.
    WE THE PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF PAYING FOR THEIR NOT DOING THEIR JOBS
    CHARLES GARRETT

  • Just as it should be DEAD by DECREE of Alaskans …try the same thing again it will Die too!

  • Once government starts handing out money to people that say they want it, it is very difficult to stop those handouts. That said, I wish the folks would get this decided: I am planning a nice European trip. One of my kids left Alaska for a real job several years ago; the other is on the way out for the same reason. What do I care?

  • Ladies and Gents, if you think Senate Leadership is your friend, even though you abhor House Leadership, you really need to check in on this session’s history.

    The best checks into this would be google Senator Natasha Von Imoff (Finance) and Senator Cathy Giessel (President).

    Natasha was lobbying for $1500 PFD 25% going forward, and taking $12 Billion from the Earnings Reserve and putting it into the Permanent Fund.

    The $12 Billion will reduce our reserves (in a real fiscal crisis) to $7 billion. Any real emergency will leave us high and dry and they will get their Income Tax.

    • You are correct on one thing: Plowing $12 billion of the earnings reserve into the principal of the Permanent Fund will not solve any of our current problems. At no time has anyone offered a good reason for doing this.

  • This won’t fix the immediate legislative fiasco. Maybe we can’t have a capital that the legislature is road accessible but we can correct that to some degree without moving it. I’d like to have a constitutional amendment that ALL special sessions must be immediately held in a road system city. The amendment would not allow ANY extension in place in Juneau. Strict enforcement of this would force legislators to do their damn jobs within the statutory time frame or face the wrath of citizens face to face at a road accessible venue.

  • Beth Fread: why is moving $12B from the Earnings Reserve Account where the money can be spent by a simple majority of legislators into the Permanent Fund corpus where it cannot be spent a bad thing?
    Get your facts and logic in order.

    • Exactly right, the legislature used to move extra to the corpus regularly. Until we had the first scare and tried to institute an income tax back in the 90s. Unfortunately we then created the CBR which was meant to hold down spending but has done the opposite.

  • Move the Capital.Stop the per diem expense.Do your jobs.Running the state of Alaska is not that difficult.Quit lolly gagging.Do your jobs .It is outrageous that you all can not finish with out special sessions…

  • Hi there,

    My name is Kobe Rizk and I am the college intern at Must Read Alaska. I noticed the high commenting activity on this post. I want to encourage you to view our newly launched political forum on the website. To do this, go to the MRAK home screen and select the “Forums” tab at the top menu bar. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at kobe.rizk@yale.edu, or if you would prefer, reach out to Suzanne. You have the ability to create your own topics and discussions, and I would encourage you to share these with fellow MRAK readers. We would love to see some more activity on this new and exciting part of the MRAK project.

    Kobe

  • You are a lucky fellow, Kobe. Getting to intern and be mentored by the best. And some of us in the comment section aren’t too bad either.

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