Jim Crawford: Concerning the PFD, just say no to special interests this year and next - Must Read Alaska
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Jim Crawford: Concerning the PFD, just say no to special interests this year and next

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By JIM CRAWFORD

Eddie Burke and I co-chaired the statewide “Just say No” campaign in 1999 to save the Alaska Permanent Fund. The people understood that earnings were vital to the success of their 1976 Amendment to protect the Alaska Permanent Fund. 

Simply, the earnings from the fund would make dividends sustainable. They also understood that the Permanent Fund was established for all Alaskans, each and every one of us. All the talk we heard then and now was and is only meant to let the special interests spend the Fund.  We said NO then and we must reinforce that NO again this year.

We must reestablish Permanent Fund dividends at 50% of net income after inflation proofing. We then are assured of two things:  1. The dividend is sustainable and 2. Fund managers will maximize the earnings and growth of the Fund.  This is the capitalist philosophy that built America.

The sustainable approach to the PFD limits spending from the Fund to 50% of earnings less inflation. The experiment called the Percent of Market Value failed and resulted at year end FY 2020 in reducing the Fund balance by nearly $1 billion after the POMV draw was made. The balance of the Fund went down by $998 million under POMV while our dividends crashed after the Legislators got done carving up the POMV draw.  

Eighty percent for government and 20 percent for the Alaska owners of the fund is not fair. The people’s dividend was their last priority.  

In the last election, voters removed nine senior incumbents in the Legislature who opposed the people’s plan. Have we elected a majority that supports our majority? The people’s plan was supported by 83% of the voters in 1999.  I’ll bet that majority hasn’t gone down 5 points, even with the constant pounding of the news media and the big spenders.

Past Legislatures have proven they cannot enact a long-term fiscal plan. The people, therefore, must do it for them through constitutional amendments just as Gov. Mike Dunleavy has urged. If we can’t get the votes in the Legislature to pass constitutional protection, let’s have a constitutional convention and approve them that way.  We must bring back accountability in Alaska’s budgetary battles.

If the Legislature again blocks protection of our dividend and the Fund itself, there is a provision in the state constitution that allows the public’s voice to be both heard and obeyed. The people, not the Legislature or the courts, have the power to overrule and enforce any provision that is passed by a simple majority vote in a properly called Constitutional Convention. You could call it the people’s final trump card.

Let’s prepare for a constitutional convention. The last time, voters were asked if they wanted to convene a constitutional convention was in 2012. This plebiscite is required every 10 years.  The 10 years is up next year, in 2022. The plebiscite question must be on the ballot every 10 years, according to Article XIII our Alaska Constitution.

Section 3, Article XIII of the Alaska Constitution says, “Constitutional conventions shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution, subject only to ratification by the people. No call for a constitutional convention shall limit these powers of the convention.”

This is the ultimate take back of government by the people.  If voters want to protect their dividends and the corpus of the Fund, we can do so.  If a majority votes to hold a Constitutional Convention, we will have one.  That convention can solve a number of Alaska’s problems. Together, we can build a grand coalition of people who understand that in Alaska, the People control government, not the other way around. 

Those in the Legislature who align with the people’s interest will enjoy huge support. Those who are satisfied with the short shrift given to dividend supporters to sustain “Jabba the Hutt” government will be accountable to the People.

Here’s the deal:

1. Set the dividend at 50% of Fund earnings less inflation proofing.

2. Cap draws and never exceed the earnings of the Fund less inflation.

3.  Constitutionally protect the whole Fund.

4.  Cancel the POMV and adopt a strict actual earnings discipline.

5.  Provide an effective spending cap that limits the expansion of Alaskan government.

6.  Require a majority vote of Alaskans to raise taxes or reinstate the Alaska income tax.

If you read the financial statements of the state and our agencies, you quickly understand that we have billions tucked away and yet spenders demand more. I still don’t know what our state and local governments did to spend an additional, federal covid gift of $6.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

The only ones getting stiffed are those Alaskans who get their earnings in the form of dividends.  Alaskans are smart.  We decided and voted decades ago to save and invest our earnings in resource development through the Alaska Permanent Fund.  Our savings are growing. Thanks to all who took part in making the fiscal plan to turn barrels of oil into barrels of renewable cash.  It worked.

Let us convince our friends in the Legislature to make the best deal for Alaskans.  And thank them for investing our savings.  Our little fund now has $81 billion and earned $16 billion so far this year.  

Jim Crawford is a third-generation Alaskan entrepreneur who resides in Anchorage with his bride of 37 years, Terri.  Capital Alaska LLC is a capital funder which studies and reports on and may sponsor projects of sustained economic growth for the Alaskan economy.   Mr. Crawford known as the Permanent Fund Defender was a member of the Investment Advisory Committee, appointed by Governor Hammond to plan and execute the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation.

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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

  • Good thoughts. But with the corruption and influence of special interests we see in Juneau now, we also need action to bring the legislature into accountability to the governed. I would also like to see the legislative session moved to be accessible to the majority: South central one year, Fairbanks the other (or maybe we could contract the hotels at Denali for the sessions). Our voices need to be heard and sometimes in their faces. We can’t all fly first class to Juneau like high dollar lobbyists.

  • A pleasure to read a common sense, informed and rational statesman, present the plain old truth! Thanks much Jim!

  • I agree Jim. What do you want us to do? Sign me up.

  • What more can I say? Except Ridiculous, Non-Factual, Pie in the Sky, Constitutional Re-write, Misleading, Fiduciary Bankrupt, with a Neo-Socialism view of the purpose of Government.

    Let’s keep it simple, preserve and respect the Alaska Constitution. If the Legislature would simply respect the Constitutional Amendment for the Budget Reserve Fund this nonsense would have been over a long time ago.

  • Chris you seem to be the one with ridiculous pie in the sky ideas of these carpet bagging politicians respecting spending restrictions, Constitutions or Even basic property rights has 2020 taught you nothing?. At the very least these kinds of radical ideas, with enough support would at least shift the Overton window and shake these clowns up and At best it just might work.

  • Jim Crawford, Right On!

  • Let’s quit talking about, let’s just get it done Jim.
    `Chris on the other hand, I think your cookie dough is a bit over done. Why is this ridiculous, pie in the sky and the rest of your dribble your spewing?

  • Remember it’s the law to give us our money, from the PFD.
    Why are they not in jail. If I break the law I go to jail or get a ticket.
    What did the legislators say last year? We the people don’t know how to handle that much free money.
    So you, the government know best. You just piss away our money on things, I don’t need or want.
    Remember it our money, and I can do just fine, figuring out what to save, spend, or give away my PFD money.
    Stop the madness

  • If the legislature can’t follow the law now, how is a Constitutional Amendment going to change anything??? These people are like heroin junkies with OUR money and it’s insane to think more laws are going to stop them from STEALING! They are CRIMINALS right now, find a way to do something about it right now!!!

  • I appreciate the thoughts. I do. I just don’t see how we can get around a corrupt legislature hell bent for the economic collapse of Alaska.

  • Chris. I’m curious.

    Did the Permanent Fund Divided beat you up as a kid, steal your lunch money, or run off with your wife?

    You loathe the PFD so badly you can’t think of anything else. It blinds you to the reality of life in a corrupt state with a corrupt legislature. If the legislature honored the rule of law in Alaska we wouldn’t be here now.

  • Good essay, Jim.
    .
    Twenty-one years later, the legislative half of Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team doesn’t seem to have changed much.
    .
    Alaska’s Lobbyist Directory shows 421 line items of special interests who bought or leased legislators.
    .
    Add up annual fees, monthly fees, annual, monthly, and hourly wages over the course of one year, special interests invest about $23,781,324 in the lobbyist half of Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team
    .
    … an average of $396,355 per legislator.
    .
    This seems hardly like a charity operation. People who spend nearly $24 Million on lobbyists want something for what they bought and they want it now, not later.
    .
    But they’ll back off because Alaskans, whose lives and livelihoods the very same lobbyist-legislator team wrecked in the name of China flu, “just say no”?
    .
    If they don’t back off, Jim, do we have a Plan B?

  • He’s probably a retired state employee worried about his golden pension they gave to the boomers back in the 80’s. That’s one of the major reasons the budget is so hard to balance today.

  • As I have said before, I knew the same mentality as those that hated on the Zobels in 1980 would rear its head again. Sometimes the truth is very uncomfortable.

    Good luck and Godspeed to you. I would like to respond to you individually and explain the errors in your thinking. That is, if you are brave enough to tell us your real name.

  • The plain truth is the P-Fund was devised to limit the growth and power of State Government. The original intent of the fund was to insure that a portion of the massive Oil Wealth earnings were set aside and not completely consumed by political special interests. Now comes folks like Mr. Nyman, who claim to be fiscal conservatives but all the while they advocate the termination of the funds dividend to the people. Mr. Nyman’s position is that the leviathan called State Government be given plenary access to the funds cookie jar. Beware of wolves in sheep’s apparel. Cross dressing canines are easy to spot, for one, they never advocate a real audit of State Spending, nor a real comprehensive debate about where government spending really goes and what benefit the people actually derive from this spending. Mr. Nyman and others of his pack are rapacious advocates of big government spending , they masquerade as “conservatives” . Do not be fooled!

  • The State of Alaska government has expanded to an unsustainable level and, if left unchecked, will suck up every dime it can absorb from whatever avenue it can get it from. It is long past time for an extreme reduction in the size of Alaska State government.

  • To AK4LIBERATION – you hit the nail on the head! Can’t have all those Alaskan teachers who retired in Arizona eating beans in their Golden Years! The rest of us on the other hand, eh….

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