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Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Let the people of Alaska decide

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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Alaskans should decide

 

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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

  • If the legislators make cuts then they themselves should have their pay cut and let them pay for their travel expenses, food and etc. It is always cuts but also a lot of spending on items the state needs or they think it’s needs. Actually maybe it’s time the people have more of a say by voting on their upcoming decisions on anything.

  • Follow the classic tried and true formula that has been in law since the 1980’s.

    But make sure Governor Dunleavy doesn’t cut the legislature’s $9.4B from the Earnings Reserve Account into the Permanent Fund where it is protected forever from being blown. Saving more now will result in higher PFD’s down the trail.

    There are plenty of funds in the Earnings Reserve Account to pay a full PFD and also move $9.4B into the trust fund.

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