In a close vote, the Alaska House of Representatives today voted down an amendment to HB 3003 that would have funded the full statutorily required amount for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.
House Republicans voted largely in favor of following the law, but there were four breakaways: Bart LeBon of Fairbanks, Kelly Merrick of Eagle River, and Steve Thompson of Fairbanks and James Kaufman of Anchorage voted with the Democrats.
Rep. David Eastman introduced the amendment for the full PFD. He was asking the question: Do you follow the law or just pick and choose an amount for political expedience?
Rep. Sara Rasmussen openly disagreed with the statutory PFD, saying it is unsustainable but in the end voted for it because it is the law that is on the books.
The last time the law was followed by the Legislature was in 2015. The statutory formula would mean about a $3,800 dividend this year.
The dividend fight, which was tense at times with Speaker Louise Stutes calling Republicans our of order, took place just before she made a hasty decision to recess to the “call of the chair.”
Some Republicans said they would be happy with the 50-50 plan for the dividend, as proposed by the governor, but not until passage of the governor’s bill to allow the people of Alaska to vote on a constitutional amendment solidifying the 50-50 plan going forward.