Judgment Day in Juneau - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, October 17, 2019
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Judgment Day in Juneau

By REP. SARAH VANCE

Our Permanent Fund Corporation, which is tasked with growing the Permanent Fund, has been achieving record growth and the fund is now valued at $64 billion. There is more money in the Earnings Reserve Account today than there has ever been in the history of the Permanent Fund, roughly $19 billion. Your past PFD half-payments sit in the Earnings Reserve Account, growing interest for the state.

Some politicians might tell you the state simply “cannot afford” to pay a full Permanent Fund dividend. Can this be true?

This legislator says, transfer to the people what the law says belongs to them.

Your legislators stand at a crossroad. As we head into the special session, lawmakers will be forced to answer critical questions about priorities.

  • Will we ensure education is funded for FY20 or continue to play a prideful game of chicken with the governor?
  • Will we repeal the mistakes of SB 91, or only pretend to be tough on crime?
  • Will we pay out a full PFD, as is required by law, or perpetuate a recession to take more money from the pockets of Alaskans?

Make no mistake: decisions made this week will speak volumes about the values of your elected officials.

I believe in a full, statutory permanent fund dividend and will continue to fight for this cause. Alaska’s resources are our birthright and the PFD is our inheritance. As shareholders of the state’s wealth, the dividend is the ultimate expression of Alaskan sovereignty. You should have priority over any government funded project. Let us not forget that paying a full, statutory dividend is required by law.

This crisis was deliberately manufactured to create an environment where theft appears justified in the eyes of the public. Alaskans have been sold a story that the PFD system is broken and needs fixed. It’s fake news. Our economy continues to crumble while Alaskan families struggle to put bread on the table.

More than $72 million was stolen from the economy of my district. How about yours?  If there was such a crisis, why didn’t the Legislature inflation-proof the fund for 3 years in a row in order to maintain its value?

Thirty-three bills regarding the PFD are currently moving about the Capitol. Several bills rising to the top include transformative words replacing “shall transfer” to “may appropriate.” With edits like these, the Legislature would have the power to decide ifwhen, and how much to pay a dividend.

Words matter. Intent is everything.

Nothing else stimulates the Alaskan economy quite like the PFD. It is critical to the fabric of Alaska’s economy.

The original intent of the Fund was to offset a downturn in oil prices. With earnings the Fund has produced, we could have been sowing the dividend into our local communities to curb our state’s 4-year economic recession. Instead, for the past three years, we’ve allowed politicians to shrink our dividend check to ensure money is available for their pet projects. The state already gets 75 percent of the royalties to spend on bloated government. How much is enough?

Sarah Vance represents Alaska’s District 31 in the House of Representatives.

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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

  • What a breath of fresh air coming from one of our Reps ! (Paul Seaton’s replacement by the way.) Vance gets it totally . This is why we need new blood in Juneau. The Vance’s are still too few to turn this thing around, but she has the vision and the ability to express what Alaskans are feeling. Big things are ado with the Earnings of the Permanent Fund in the coming special sessions. It’s good to know that Sarah Vance is in Juneau ! (or where ever they meet)

  • The funds in the Earnings Reserve Account are managed by the Permanent Fund Corporation but not really part of the Permanent Fund. The funds in the ERA are available for spending if a simple majority of the legislature agrees to appropriate and they will, sooner or later.

    The need for action here is obvious. Move a big chunk of the funds in the ERA into the Permanent Fund, which is a trust fund that the legislature cannot touch.

    The funds in the ERA stem from investment income earned from our Permanent Fund and they should not be blown on government funding.

  • This is what recessions do-make it hard for some to put bread on the table.
    That said, Alaska is on the verge of coming out of its recent recession and this year’s budget will have much to say about whether/not we start into another recession IMO. A look into how our legislators are voting will tell you about how their constituents have faired under this recent recession as, I suspect, they are telling their representatives what they want from them.
    To get a feel for how serious it is, just look at the State’s institutions some are willing to endanger to get their hands on the almost $6ooo promised them this year. And, we will get a look at how important being re-elected is for some of our representatives as they attempt to get a handle on the State’s business.

  • Children are a resource for our future. The NEA path does not care first for our children. The child an have have been tossed aside so that the admin …and non teaching positions (not including maintenance staff) can live ,travel and retire bloated paychecks). 45% of the education funding goes to retirement with admins living well beyond the average private sectors dreams.

    The educators scream it for for the children and “OUR” future while trying to slip into an admin position or create a new admin position.

    The admins direct the path of the education… The books, the curriculum.. The admins control the teacher’s classes. We have far too many admin. Admins need to justify their need by toying with the education … …this is what I see is just why Johnnie can’t read ,do math, or think ….but give Johnnie a cucumber and he can put a condom on it. Social engineering k-12 is not education! That social engineering is thanks to THE NEA and too many admins trying to be relevant.

    It’s for the kids is a blatant lie! The money is not going to the classrooms……bad teachers man a classroom under the protection of admins and the NEA.

  • The biggest problem with many of our elected legislators is, they are not “voting” to represent the citizens who elected them. Sarah Vance is an outstanding exception. As soon as an opportunity arises, many of them are showing their true colors and betraying those that actually put them there, with the excuses that their betrayal is “beneficial” to those constituents. That $6,000 mentioned, is not/was never, intended to fund State’s institutions. It was/is meant, specifically to be disbursed to it’s rightful owners. The citizens of Alaska. Re-election seems to not be important to many. Regardless, they vote against the wishes of their constituents. Why? I don’t have that answer for their betrayal. Only they do. And they constantly misrepresent their actions as “good for Alaska”. Knopp and Stutes are prime examples. Only now, they are paying the political price for their betrayal. It still comes to the same argument. To whom does the PFD belong? The answer, is the citizens who depend on the PFD to supplement their meager earnings. Alaska is an expensive state to reside in. The PFD helps resolve that for a vast majority of recipients of their rightful PFD. The programs that dims are trying to steal the PFDs for, are simply socialist attempts to obtain, for their own BS, the funds that belong to all Alaskans, not just their dim/socialist allies.

  • I think the liberal majority will force through a payment under $3,000, telling us they need the money for another gasoline study or a study on the Juneau road or a study on the Knik Arm bridge or a study on why UA is failing in its mission or a study on why homelessness is out of control or a study on studies.

    2018 proved that the electorate will not punish bad legislators; they only leave when they want to. Alaska voters will do nothing to change out a legislative body that ignores the peoples will.

    However, let a governor propose cuts to snow machine trail maintenance, schools, the Pioneers Home, UA or other liberal loves, and here come the torches and pitchforks!

    In the immortal words of Pogo: We have met the enemy and he is us.

  • Thank you Sarah for representing “we the people.”

  • If I were confident that our legislators would spend it wisely, I would be all for eliminating the PFD – but they never have, they won’t, and they never will.
    Many of the people who are clever at getting themselves elected, generally don’t have the skill sets to do the job right once they get it. The people who have the skill sets, largely avoid public office.
    I especially think that voting on a bill when one has a conflict of interest should be at least a class-A misdemeanor.

  • there are those with out the vision of Hammond, who seek to make them selves look good at the cost of All Alaskans.
    I believe the actual wording used had reference to the spending ability of drunken sailors.
    It is now past time for those in the legislature to figure out that they were elected to do a job. Note it is not a career but a job. You have been entrusted with the management of the corporation Alaska. Not to pilfer or purchase aggrandizement at our expense. A vote was called on the PFD about 20 years ago, yet politicians have tried to chip away at it. There are some who are falling under the spell of the half truths that they cannot manage with out it.
    I say we need to realize the credibility this large fund gives to Alaska. Not just the share we get annually but the financial and social status of The State. We may have fallen on harder times that we planned for (Or failed to plan for!) but unlike many we are not bankrupt.
    Unlike many some seem to think you can run a business with out an income. A State with out an income is not really a State. So prior to the PFD Alaskans paid taxes. Alaska grew on that income.
    Rather than try to pilfer us to bankruptcy how about making actual decisions, that may affect you’re electability in the next run off. But in the longer term will benefit Alaska and the lives of Alaskans. Find that part of your anatomy that gives you the strength to make the really big decisions. The really right ones, not for personal gain but for the whole States gain. As those who came before did.
    It is not about you, or me, but about We!

  • Time to put AKLEG back in its place.. No changes w/out a vote of the People and Full restored PFDs… The 50 % is designated not Apropriated. The Dividend is paid not Appropriated. You cannot forward Appropriate or Designate..We may need to vote on the Designated amounts to keep them in check or from becoming a general fund..any purpose dollar. Protecting the funds other 50 percent or the GOV designated half needs to have vote never touching our half of the shared mineral rights…

  • Never before will the Citizens of Alaska be as fully aware of this special session than this 2019 session. Simply they are watching their representatives and how they will vote for or against the people getting their rightful amount of the PFD. Some will start a recall proceeding and others will wait for elections. But either way the ones voting against giving Alaska Citizens their fair share (50%) of the earning of the PFD for the past four years will be ousted from their representative seats in the legislators.

  • We should charge interest as an initiative to prevent frivolous earnings use until we have a vote on the essential services. They want a draw we want an interest based on the essential service ranked by a vote of the people…Shall we charge 5 percent on all draws voted on and 10 percent enacted prior to a vote.

  • True and righteously stated…
    .
    And preaching to the choir…
    .
    Now, may one ask, what are you and like-minded colleagues doing about it, Representative Vance?

  • I wanted to respond to Irish lass. First off, most teachers are not paid high salaries in regard to what we do. I am not, nor will ever be, a member of NEA since I think that they have their own agenda. My agenda and that of the school that I serve in is to educate our children to the best of their abilities. I will take a child that wants to learn as far as they want to go! As far as creating new positions for teachers or administrators, that is just baloney. Our school has 2 administrators – one for the high school and one for the middle school so that is justifiable. As far as retiring on bloated paychecks, another one for the baloney pile. I will retire on about $20K a year while many people that I know of will be double or triple this amount. Would I like to have more in retirement? Yes, I would but living in a village is very, very expensive for both rent/groceries/utilities so that takes about half of my paycheck every month. I teach mathematics and science (this year) because our district took a 10 million dollar cut. We lost several positions because of this cut and are expected to do the same amount of work with less positions. Am I going to do my best this year? Absolutely, but it is because I love teaching children and am passionate about my subject materials. However, I am also tired of having parents and school boards that do not realize what is happening in the classroom and are not doing what they need to be doing to support our children at home. It amazes me how small the number is of parents that come into Parent-Teacher conferences! This is not about money but it is about the future of villages, the State of Alaska, and our nation! What we put into our children is exactly what we get out of it. Either put the money toward education or start building more prisons!

  • Bryce will never get his belly full. The only way to bring the pfd to the people in it’s entirety is to bring home this fence sitter.

  • Sarah, wish you were my representative. I believe my Rep is more concerned with her job and the next election.

  • Faith , check out how many admin making your job harder are in the school district building. That’s pay dirt and they are not too accountable.

  • Fantastic column. Sarah Vance understands and appreciates where we are as a populace, what got her and Governor Mike Dunleavy elected and I believe she’s committed to honoring her promises. What a breath of fresh air. For far too long, (at least the past three years), the Walker administration stole monies from the families of Alaska to finance pet projects and pay Union fat cats for their vote. State government bloat is killing this state – it’s time to wean those cats and kick them out. The PFD is important to the people and what’s more it’s theirs by law and right. Let’s Legislature proof our money and let’s do it now.

  • Another Republican shill. Let’s just “get what’s ours’ today and not worry about the Alaska of tomorrow. We should never have established a PFD. Now people see it as an entitlement and want ‘their money’ whatever the cost to government services or in investing to diversify our economy for a sustainable future. Oh, and the oil companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

    • I doubt that Republicans are more in favor of the PFD than Democrats. I think Democrats are generally more in favor of government handouts than Republicans. Universal basic income is not part of the Republican platform. Regardless, the PFD is the worst public policy ever invented. It has hijacked policy debate. Collectively, we are fools. As the saying goes, none of us is as stupid individually as we are as a committee.

  • Thank you Rep Sarah Vance for standing with We The People. The real majority, not the fake majority. The same voters that elected our governor, not the Union’s. Stand strong. The people are behind you. That’s why deseaton Seaton is long gone

  • Good job Rep Vance. You are doing exactly what you campaigned on, and have kept your promises to the voters. You have class, integrity, and honor. Something your predecessor never had. After suffering 16 years of deception and udder incompetence, its great to know what to expect from our new district 31 representative. Now for the current batch that calls themselves the majority, its time to pitch them all under a speeding logging truck one at a time.

  • When cheerleading ends
    .
    Peoples work begins again
    .
    What changes but time…
    …..
    Rhyme and reason gone
    .
    We call, nobody calls back
    .
    Our lifeline’s busy

  • Stephen Wright We should charge equivalent interest as an incentive to reign in excessive spending by initiative to ensure Corporate Earnings are protected and divided equally from the 25% set aside for private qualified dividends or legislated for essential services..(50/50). This would keep Corporate Earnings protected from power grabs and excess services being spent on nonessential services. Even the essential services should never exceed 50% of earnings. If the dividends are capped when legislative initiatives are put forth with the vote of the people. If we take less then they take less until funds are returned with interest. We could draw interest/fees from the government for using the private sector earnings based on a ranking determined by a vote of the people, equal to that of any cuts..Time to put AKLEG back in its place.. No changes w/out a vote of the People and Fully restored PFD Dividends… The Dividend 50 % is Designated not Appropriated. The Dividend is designated by statute and transferred shall or may based on the makeup of the legislature. If our dividend is designated and then transferred by statute, then Government Draws needs to be Designated for a draw with a 50% user fee equivalent to what was charged to the people by the PFD corporations the last 3 years. 50-50 is designated by statute transferred back into the ER until it our 50 percent tax is refunded and returned. Transferred with the same rules that have been placed on our 50% user fee equivalent to recently withheld taxes. Balance needs to be struck with the private sector and we are open for business.

  • Still grumps me when I think that the vast majority of North Slope oil was shipped out of the State at rock bottom prices in the eighties. New ways were invented to increase pipeline throughout above its design capacity. This I think allowed the oil companies to claim they were selling oil at a loss, reduced the State’s tax and royalties. The reasoning I heard was that they had to pump vast volumes at a loss in order to make payments to the banks for the cost to build the pipeline.
    We brag about the size of our Permanent Fund, when Norway now has a Permanent Fund in excess of $1 trillion. Makes our efforts appear pretty small.
    I was here for the first PFD, and heard the arguments for a dividend program. My understanding was the Permanent Fund was created to be able to fund State government when the oil ran out. The PFD was established as a counter to the late 70’s/early 80’s spending excesses of the legislatures. The PFD was to give citizens an individual benefit to the State’s oil windfall.
    Now we have the prospect of vastly declining oil production, 1/4 what we had at the height of Prudhoe Bay. We face the prospect that global warming is accelerating to the point of having real world impacts, making the idea of having a fossil fueled economy increasingly too expensive.
    A citizen sees themself as part of a greater whole. Mr. Dunleavy, in my mind, bought himself the governorship, promising individuals a $6000 PFD. Terrence Cole wrote an opinion piece several months back, pointing out that our constitution has that the citizens of this State of Alaska, have an obligation to adequately fund the functions of government. Too bad far too many comments I read show the immaturity of of the average “me first” citizen. I see the Dunleavy budget plans as being a “shock doctrine” action. I’d be fine with everyone in the State getting $6000PFD, if that went along with no winter road plowing. Shut the train down for 6 months, shut the ferries down for 6 months. Go back to the old days and ways. Have justice and law enforcement as Sidney Huntington wrote. Then it will be up to the individual to figure out individually how to do what gets done now collectively.

  • Me to David pope
    Right on Norway’s got 715 billion in their account.
    Another gripe,I have.
    Sport guide s,charter boat out fits.
    Been getting a free ride .
    License fees waived now for over 22 years now.’
    Just last year,they took 179000 halibuts,220000 sockeye.
    31790 king salmon 80000 cod,40000 coho salmon,clams ,crab,and pinks.

    This resource,the state could have got a little money for ,and they could of contribute it to the general fund.
    No! They get it for free,zero income to the state.
    Last year,the same year,commercial fisherman contributed ,146 million to the general fund.
    Spot guys ,paided them selves ,and most took the revenue South.

    This total ,just two fish .
    44billion in the last 22 years!
    We could balance the budget.

    But they ,still continue ,to rape Alaska.
    It makes me sick!

  • You voted to not fully fund Alaska University System. Which has had a budget that has been cut every year. Don’t try and fool the people. You are not for Alaskans. You are for the party.

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