By THE ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has told the legislative Permanent Fund dividend working group that any changes to the annual payout should involve a vote of Alaskans.
“Ninety-nine percent of the work we do in Juneau, the people of Alaska have basically said, ‘You guys do it,’ ‘” Dunleavy told the eight-member panel. “We’re too busy with our lives, we’re too busy with our jobs and that’s your role. But when it comes to something of this magnitude, that’s been around for decades, that impacts virtually every Alaskan, I think it behooves us to really think about engaging the people in a positive manner.”
He is absolutely right. There should be a vote on any changes.
The working group, composed of four members from each of the Legislature’s chambers, is tasked with finding a way forward in the raucous fracas over how the dividend will be calculated and its size this year.
There are two camps: one, adamantly backed by Dunleavy, wants the $65 billion fund’s dividend to be calculated under at 1982 law that would give each Alaskan about $3,000.
The other wants to ignore that law, as has been done for the past three years, and reduce the dividend’s amount to about $1,600, or even $900, to address the state’s budget gap. They would reduce the dividend to political whim.
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