Michael Tavoliero: The Left has scalped Alaskans’ PFDs since 2016, but can Dunleavy fix it?

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By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

In the 2018 Alaska gubernatorial race, Michael Dunleavy emerged as the guardian, vowing to shield Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend from encroaching threats. His campaign resonated with resolute promises: “Only one candidate has proven he will protect the PFD: Mike Dunleavy.” The slogans emphasized trust in the democratic process with “No change to the PFD without a vote of the people: Mike Dunleavy.” 

I was there. I remember. Do you?

In the silence that followed the storm of the Left’s fervent pursuit to recall Gov. Dunleavy during his initial term, a subtle corrosion took hold. The echoes of discontent lingered, especially after the departure of his first chief of staff. Now, in his second term, the clamor for recall has subsided, replaced by a new tempest as the governor endeavors to fulfill the promise of disbursing the full PFD to eligible recipients.

The PFD remains a political football, carried downfield toward the goal since 2016 but stopped by opposition that believes the state bureaucracy is more important than the people.

For every political season since Gov. Walker, the PFD has been the central topic of legislative debate, with the money team funded to ensure the state bureaucracy is not cut, as well as the full dividend not paid. 

And with every crisis, real or faked, comes an opportunity.

Against the backdrop of the winter of 2022, Alaska faced an economic frost, with fuel oil prices soaring to $5.03 per gallon in 85 unsubsidized communities, well above the national average of $3.60 per gallon. In the isolated expanses of Arctic Village, Hughes, and Alatna, where air cargo is the lifeline for fuel delivery, the cost reached alarming heights. Arctic Village, adapting to biomass for heating, signaled a community in transition.

In the annals of Alaskan tradition, the PFD served as a financial bulwark for families in these frigid landscapes, especially when economic pillars like subsistence, commercial fishing, and natural resource industries weathered the storm of pandemic realities.

Unbeknownst to many, the State of Alaska carries a debt to its citizens — every eligible PFD recipient from 2016 to the present is owed $13,820, totaling $55,280 for a family of four. In a state where the specter of government growth looms large, eroding the prospects of natural resource development, this owed income could suture the gaping wounds of financial distress.

Within the corridors of Alaska governance, the governor wields a constitutional tapestry of authority, as articulated in Article III, section 23. This executive authority weaves a narrative where the governor:

  1. – Exercises the Governor’s Authority: Initiates changes deemed indispensable for efficient administration.
  2. – Issues Executive Orders: Enunciates changes necessitating the force of law.
  3. – Allows Legislative Oversight: Affords the legislature a prescribed timeframe (sixty days) during sessions to challenge and disapprove these executive orders.
  4. – Determines the Effective Date: Mandates that, absent legislative disapproval through a majority resolution in joint session, the executive orders become effective at a later date designated by the governor.

This gubernatorial prerogative is both a shield and a sword, providing the flexibility for administrative course corrections while maintaining a crucial check by the legislative branch.

As the 2024 presidential election looms on the horizon, the political tapestry of Alaska reveals a mosaic — a symphony of 13 Democrats, 22 Republicans, 4 no-party independents, and 1 nonpartisan in the Alaska House of Representatives. All 40 seats are up for grabs. Meanwhile, in the Alaska Senate, the composition comprises 9 Democrats and 11 Republicans, with 9 Senate seats in contention.

Is it politically naive to consider any of the 40 of these House Candidates and any of the 9 of these Senate candidates disapproving through a majority resolution in the next joint session of the legislature during perhaps the most major election in the history of Alaska and the United States? 

Timing is everything.

Gov. Dunleavy, entrenched in his second term and ineligible for re-election, stands at a juncture where the legacy he leaves hinges on the deployment of his constitutional authority. The adage holds true: when good men do nothing, evil flourishes.

The Governor has the singular reality of being in the best position to exercise the bully pulpit and spread the news across the state. The past due PFD amount of $13,820 is owed to eligible Alaskans.

In 2023, 61,000 Alaska’s children’s parents lack secure employment while in 2021 the Alaska Legislature’s Capitol complex is now spread over five blocks in Juneau, rather than move the Legislature out of Juneau to the road system allowing greater operational saving for the state.

In a past interview between Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson, Peterson said, “Things get to terrible places one tiny step at a time. If I encroach on you and I’m sophisticated about it, I’m going to encroach two millimeters. I’m going to encroach right to the point where you start to protest, then I’m going to stop. I’m going to wait, then you’re going to calm down, then I’m going to encroach again. Right to the point where you protest, then I’m going to stop. I’m just going to do that forever, and before you know it, you’re going to be back three miles from where you started.”

This is the Left side of the Alaska Legislature’s strategy to subdue Alaska into its existing bureaucratic hegemony. We have one champion left.

Is it time for the governor to marshal his constitutional powers, ensuring the fulfillment of promises and the restoration of Alaska’s oil wealth to its deserving citizens? The answer to this question will sculpt the narrative of Alaska’s future, echoing through the corridors of governance and resonating in the hearts of its people.

Michael Tavoliero is a senior contributor to Must Read Alaska.

26 COMMENTS

  1. If the Lawbreakers aren’t going to do what’s right, then they might as well start working for welfare as there will be a lot more people applying, and it’s become clear that we already don’t have enough workers there to handle the job.

  2. Government has no business giving away money to citizens. There is no means testing; the rich and the poor receive the same PFD amount. The PFD is an artifact of indiscriminate financial management by the state of Alaska. If the state had put all the money given away as PFDs instead into a sealed trust not available to legislatures the state of Alaska would be well situated (like Norway). Instead the Permanent Fund is a target for every progressive cause.

    • Schizo post detected.

      “Government has no business giving away money to citizens.” OK, so far so good.
      “There is no means testing; the rich and poor receive the same PFD amount.” BZZZ, you lose.

      Why worry about ‘means testing’ – or care about the relative wealth of those receiving the PFD – if you believe the government ‘shouldn’t be giving money out in the first place’.
      This is a lefty clumsily posing as a ‘hardcore’ libertarian to shame conservatives.

      They pull the same tired act whenever they try to bring back the state income tax, “Real Alaskans used to pay income tax before the oil money showed up….” Then, they disappear when we point out that Alaska spends over three times as much on government as other US states of comparable population. Aren’t all those oil royalty-fueled government programs and state jobs making us ‘soft’? No, because Mr. Fake Libertarian here actually likes all those programs.

      And all this ignores Jay Hammond’s wisdom in creating the PFD in the first place. Hammond had seen every penny of the initial 1960’s lease sale spent by politicians in record time. Sending every Alaskan a check gives everyone in a personal stake in preventing politicians raiding future oil wealth. Hammond understood that without those PFD checks, an apathetic voting public would allow ‘tax and spend’ lefties to fritter away the Fund – as soon as they figured out a way to engineer a faux budget crisis.

      The Permanent Fund wouldn’t be ‘a target’ for his progressive friends – because it wouldn’t even exist. It wouldn’t have even survived the 1985 oil price slump and subsequent real estate crash.

      • Apu, Oral Freeman created the P- Fund, Jay and the others followed later. Oral saw the fund as a means to “limit government ” and to save some of the wealth for the little guy.

        Oral would be incensed if he saw that the fund or its earnings were allocated to fund Government.
        Oh, BTW, Oral was an old school Democrat. An extinct species.

    • It isn’t giving money to anyone. It isn’t welfare. It is OUR share of jointly owned state resources. There us a mechanism for you to turn your share over to any of dozens of charities or to accept your share and give it to someone who you feel is more deserving than you.
      I have a sense that you know this and are a collectiivist who feels government knows best how to spend money. Solyndra and Fiskers. Point Mckenzie ag project…. Thank goodness you are not making the decisions.

  3. No. Respectfully, hoe high are you even asking that question?

    The Cowardly Lion of Alaska blew his chance in Wasilla He politically peed his pants, cuckholded himself, and lost any credibility he ever had.

    Standing tall never looks so small.

    Walker started killing the PFD. Dunleavy’s cowardice finished the job.

  4. Dunleavy isn’t going to fix a thing. he plans on raiding the PFD with the PFD board in his pocket and the “crooked mouth” Adam Crumb. No, raiding it is now easier than he thought. but Dunleavy does a good job of “baiting” everyone in with a promise of a check.. Not the regular ones but maybe a big one. You ought to know what baiting people will do to expectancy of circumstances. Check out who Dunleavy has in his pockets and keep your eyes on the “Plan” that Adam Crumb put together with Dunleavy and the PFD board. When Dunleavy is done, there won’t be any PFD.

  5. He has not fixed the PFD according to the campaign promises he made while running for governor. The original formula based on Permanent Fund earnings and the five year rolling average worked fine without basing it on the price of oil or percent of market value. 5 yr. rolling average of Permanent Fund earnings go up, you get a bigger dividend. Earnings go down, you get a smaller dividend. The State legislature has a 7 yr. bite of the majority of YOUR dividend money and wants the rest since they can spend it better than you can.

  6. “….but can Dunleavy fix it?”
    Short answer: NO
    Michael, Why are you obsessed with appealing to the covetous primal instinct of the human race?
    I am the last person to defend an unnecessarily large and inefficient government. However I also understand that our elected representatives have a fiduciary responsibility to balance the budget and provide financial stability to our State of Alaska.
    I do dislike the Dividend because it fosters a never ending dependency by our citizens for government subsidy as exemplified by your demands.
    Nonetheless, if you can succeed in downsizing the primary black holes of the state budget such as education and Medicaid, I will cheer on the increased size of the Dividend.

    • The ‘covetous primal instinct of the human race’ is exactly what Jay Hammond was counting on to safeguard the Permanent Fund. Without a PFD – the oil wealth would have been spent as fast as the 60’s oil lease money.

      And Dunleavy had nothing to do with the Medicaid expansion – that was our boy Walker doing Obama’s bidding. Until that point, Alaska had been holding the line – but all it takes is one corrupt politician to sell us out and take the pieces of silver. Walker stuck the rest of us with the bill – its a subscription plan you can never shut off.

  7. Notice how they steal less of the PFD on election years?

    Dividend was distributed by a formula since 1980 precisely because it would prevent politicians using it as a way to manipulate voters. System worked just fine for 35 years – until Democrats decided they needed even more money to buy off the public employee unions, and whoopsy-daisy – fraudulent left wing judges magically discover that the 1980 formula now violates the Alaska Constitution.

    Because turning the PFD amount into a timewasting political food fight every single year is such a great use of public resources.

  8. MT made excellent points,laid out a good recipe, and path here. It is clear for all to see, and its a safe bet the left would not hesitate to implement it, and won’t given the chance.

    Dear Governor Dunleavy,

    Its a rough crowd in here, and I wouldn’t guess that bothers you too much.

    My assessment is that you are just about on the precipice of standing and delivering. We can ill afford to have you squander this opportunity. LFG, sir.

  9. The one thing I appreciate about Governor Dunleavy is he’s a gentleman. But I question would a Democrat Governor today not use the full constitutional power when he has his turn instead of not be as a gentleman as Dunleavy to not act like the anchorage assembly just because of the power is in their hands. That’s a question for Dunleavy and his attorney general should they be exercising more authoritative power in light of how Democrats are using their power? But also will it be worth the risk if the consequence is current elected Republican leaders losing their seats if the rest of Alaska don’t agree? Alaska isn’t exactly a red state it gives the illusion Republicans are in charge, but are they really?

  10. Good article, but it left out the real problem. The Triumvirate (Bert Stedman, Kathy Geissel, and Click Bishop) are the real problem here, especially Stedman. Dunleavy submitted three constitutional resolutions that had to be voted on to get to the ballot by the legislature. He did this immediately in his first year as governor. The power base made sure that they never even reached the legislative committees. Two of those proposed constitutional laws would have first of all put the PFD into the Alaska Constitution, and the second one would have given Alaska voters the power to approve or disapprove any new state taxes. Alaskans were never given the option of voting on them due to the legislature. Needless to say, there was total silence about these in the Alaskan press. All three members of the Triumvirate are labeled “Republican.” And all they are doing is to protect their turf at the expense of Alaskans.

  11. Everyone comments here sets up a good case why its good Alaska is as ll locked up for probably 20 years, Even while it continues to make Alaska more expensive less better paying building jobs. With less development and research it produces less wealth for AK leaders to fight over. The scripture says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.“ I don’t like Alaska being locked up. But I do understand why perhaps why the Lord allowed it. Alaskan leadership from the elect to the business community management, to non profit executives, to community councils, to mayors, to assembly members to government bureaucrats and employees they hadn’t been good examples of good financial stewardship. For these people Alaska running out of money, it’s good this crowd has less money to fight over.

  12. Being election year, Dunleavy could push through his promises.. His term as Governor is over so if he’d push what he’s been trying to do without any people trying to suit him.. Remember he tried to do this in his first term, and all sort of idiots started suiting him..

  13. Most people like free stuff and free money is the best free stuff ever. Unfortunately, dear children, the purpose of our public resources should not be to pay people for living. That would be universal basic income, which a motivator for low lifes to move here. Papa Pilgrim and clan being an example.

    This used to be part of America. The more we champion UBI the less we are America. The fact that “Republicans” are lined up at the trough hilarious but sad.

  14. In my opinion the way the PFD is given to so many people that moved here versus born here should be taken into consideration in the Application. Alaska has a growing number of immigrants that partake of something that is too loosely given that it cheats the indigenous or born here Alaskans that are native to this state. The laws should have been more strict about who and how it’s distributed. I’m all for sharing, but in all reality Alaska needs to “close the borders,” on immigrants when our state doesn’t have the infrastructure or housing or finances to handle too many (immigrants) all at once. That needs to be monitored.

  15. Much of this thread is a testimony of the pathetic state of education in Alaska.

    So many are unwilling or unable to comprehend the concept of how dividends work. Understanding would get in the way of political saber rattling and virtue signaling. Both sides.

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