Now is the time to pay the full PFD to Alaskans - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, November 27, 2020
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Now is the time to pay the full PFD to Alaskans

By JESSE SUMNER

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced this year’s budget reductions, following through with what fiscal conservatives have said must happen if Alaska is to stay afloat during these challenging times. We cannot continue to operate as if we have an unlimited amount of money. We don’t.

In the midst of a public health crisis – especially one where the closing of most businesses is apparently warranted – we cannot spend our precious state dollars on items and programs that a.) will be covered by incoming federal stimulus dollars, or b.) do not assist economic recovery in Alaska.

Without a serious and swift economic recovery, Alaskans will have no choice but to either leave the state, face unimaginable levels of taxation, or suffer in poverty until our leaders figure out what their priorities should be.

For several years now, Alaskans have been deprived of their statutory permanent fund dividend checks. More and more, it appears as if this year, of all years, will be no different.

One of the governor’s vetoes was $1.5 billion that legislative leaders in the House and Senate had tried to tuck back into the Permanent Fund, in an attempt to keep it out of the hands of the dividend program. This was the wrong move by legislative leaders and the right move by the governor.

A member of the House Majority recently accused Alaskans of being “very quick to have their hands out,” as justification for why no additional dividend funds or economic stimulus payments should be made.

Should anyone be surprised that Alaskans, many of whom are only unable to work because of the mandates imposed by the government, might have an itch to access the money that lawfully belongs to them?

As people suffer more – and they will, the longer this virus remains in Alaska – the worse our future will look.

Anchorage Rep. Lance Pruitt wrote a letter to Gov. Dunleavy asking him to direct the Department of Revenue to issue PFD checks as soon as possible, rather than waiting until October. Of course, I support this idea, and I encourage Gov. Dunleavy to follow through on it.

But I also know that the dividend authorized by Senate President Cathy Giessel and Speaker Bryce Edgmon is only $1,000. Yes, it would help families and stimulate the economy for a week or two, but it’s a severe slap to the face, especially when $1.5 billion is sitting there ready to go – ready to help Alaskans weather this storm.

Times like these are why we have the Permanent Fund. Not to pay for government programs, not to enable governments to spend more money without making cuts. The fund exists so that when the unexpected happens – as it has – that we can keep people afloat with their money.

This isn’t borrowed from a bank or from China – it’s Alaskan money, earned on the backs of Alaskans. It’s time to put that money to work, get people through this tough time, and follow the law.

Jesse Sumner is a candidate for State Representative in District 10 (Wasilla), and a member of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly. Learn more about Jesse at SumnerForAlaska.com.

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  • Truth.

  • If The late Governor Jay Hammond we’re still around and able to make decisions I am confident that he would want The Permanent Fund to be used to help Alaskans through this totally unexpected medical and financial disaster. What is a better reason to start using these funds? . If they cannot be used during these times, when can they ever be used. Imo this is exactly what Hammond would have wanted to happen. And is what should happen.

  • We’re quick to have our hands out…wow really. We are the hardest working people, honest, back breaking work. Thank you for this article, it really opened my eyes.

  • Thank you for recognizing and promoting the fact that record-level unemployment is singularly due to a government mandate.

    Yet, I question the logic of this phrase the PF/PFD is: “…earned on the backs of Alaskans.”

    How, pray tell, did I ‘earn’ it?

    • You’re breathing aren’t you?

  • Yeah. They won’t do it. The Speaker of the House had to get out his paddle and give Johnson a spanking, but it’s all good now.

  • Yes! Some of us small individual small business’ totally depends on work to support our families . I also support my 73 year old mother. Most of the help that was promised is either on hold, or not available right now. The longer I’m not able to work the more desperate our situation . I can’t even imagine applying for food stamps or emergency funds, that system is so over loaded it could take months! However that looks like the next step. This is not even the worst case scenario , I’m sure there are way worse, however the stress of not knowing where money is going to come from , just to pay rent and buy food is extremely stressful and majorly depressing . Something sooner rather than later could help!

  • The house majority is playing their collective fiddles while Alaska burns.

  • 100% truth.

    • And people actually vote for these crooks. That’s the part that amazes me.

  • “Times like these are why we have the Permanent Fund. Not to pay for government programs, not to enable governments to spend more money without making cuts. The fund exists so that when the unexpected happens – as it has – that we can keep people afloat with their money.”

    Remind me then, why is it that a PFD is paid out during years of prosperity again?

    Well that would be because the basis for the PFD has nothing to do with what you state. It exists because Jay H realized that were the fund not set up any money that could’ve been saved wouldn’t have been, and we’d be at the exact same juncture but with all the money having been squandered by politicians and wanna be politicians such as yourself.

    The question is, how will anything anyone does impact Alaska moving forward in a positive way and does the PFD have anything to do with that? The answer is that the PFD has been an interesting social and economic experiment but if it does anything it would be that it attracts and props up a layer of miscreants. We don’t need it. By the same token, we don’t the same idiots that got us into the budget problem to now be able to squander the soon to be pillaged PFD fund.

    As a budding politician how do you propose moving forward and how important is it to you that Alaska operate within its means?

  • “This isn’t borrowed from a bank or from China – it’s Alaskan money, earned on the backs of Alaskans. It’s time to put that money to work, get people through this tough time…”
    .
    Same could be said for the $600M which the Alaska Municipal League stashed safely out of taxpayers’ reach, yes?
    .
    That’s the Alaska Municipal League which exists to: “Represent the unified voice of Alaska’s local governments to successfully influence state and federal decision making”, to “provide training and joint services to strengthen local governments.”
    .
    Productive Alaskans might be circling the drain however, first things first, they gotta pay money to “strengthen local governments”, right?
    .
    But… you’re not talking about dissolving the Alaska Municipal League, returning $600M to Alaskan people are you Jesse?
    .
    Why, because your Mat-Su Borough Assembly is a paid-up AML member?
    .
    (akml.org/member-services/municipalities)
    .
    So, quit with the schtick already! For sure quit riding the wave, come up with something original, you may yet get scouted for Alaska’s professional lobbyist-legislator team.

  • I agree thank you for writing what Alaskan’s have been saying for a long time!! Just like we have to live within our budgets so should our government. Please keep your eyes and sticky fingers off our PFD!!

  • The notion of government giving money to its citizens in good times and bad is absurd. Certainly in times like these a cogent argument can be made for government assistance. But this pandemic will end, life will return to normal, yet Alaskan’s will still demand their “full PFD”. It is way past time to revamp the PFD program to one applicable to recessions, wars and natural catastrophes. The PFD is now a perceived entitlement. That must change. When politicians control the entitlement their inclination is to make it bigger and more frequent. The PFD will ultimately be Alaska’s undoing.

    • Please correct me, if I’m wrong ~ but didn’t Alaskans give up the mineral rights on their own properties, in exchange for the Permanent Fund? If you want to abolish the PFD, then shouldn’t mineral rights be given back, to landowners, in exchange?

  • Once again, whew, where to start?
    “We cannot continue to operate as if we have an unlimited amount of money.” says the man who espouses spending a significant amount on what amounts to handouts.
    “… we cannot spend our precious state dollars on items and programs that a.) will be covered by incoming federal stimulus dollars,” says the man anticipating a federal handout, which appears to be manna from heaven for so-called conservatives.
    “Without a serious and swift economic recovery…” If you expect this to be swift, you might want to rethink how difficult it is going to be to restart the economy, especially without threatening the lives of many Alaskans. Do you want to trade swiftness for lives?
    “One of the governor’s vetoes was $1.5 billion that legislative leaders in the House and Senate had tried to tuck back into the Permanent Fund, in an attempt to keep it out of the hands of the dividend program.” says the one who rails against putting away money so the legislature can’t spend it, all the while saying the government spends too much. The PF creates a large amount of income for the state through the interest it produces. The larger the PF, the more interest.
    ” Alaskans have been deprived of their statutory permanent fund dividend checks.” Let’s put this red herring to rest. The so-called “statutory PFD is distributed at the will of the legislature. They control the amount. That’s the statutory part. It’s like the legislative session, statutorily set by the people at 90 days. The constitution says 120 days. Guess what the legislature goes by. There is NO statutory or constitutional obligation to pay a given amount of PFD. It belongs to the people of the state as a whole, not to each individual.
    “As people suffer more – and they will, the longer this virus remains in Alaska – the worse our future will look.” This is the one thing Mr. Sumner says that makes sense. This plague is not going to go away anytime soon, and attempts at quick fixes and treasury draining schemes are doomed to failure, possibly catastrophic. We all, as citizens of this wonderful part of the world and caretakers of those of our neighbors most harmed by the virus, need to work together to get through these times, not stretch our hands out for a short term solution to a long term problem. If $1K is only going to help someone through a week or two, them $3K will help for 3 weeks or so. This isn’t going away in three weeks.
    Perhaps, if the Republican controlled state government of the the new millenium had handled things differently during the glut of oil money, we’d be in a better place now, like the Norwegians. But they didn’t. The bills are now coming due.

  • They moved $11 billion or more into the corpus, and the market turn-down lost half of it already.
    They need to return that $11 billion to the PFD.

    • You need to look at the long term. The losses were the result of a reactionary stock market. Those losses are starting to be regained. The same thing happened in 2008, and the fund recovered very nicely.

  • Jesse Sumner ~ It sounds all good, what you write, but many politicians say what we (the voters) want to hear, in order to elect them. I live in District 10. I have seen how my representatives vote, and I’m happy with them. How would we know, that you wouldn’t get in there, and caucus with the Dems? We don’t. So my vote stays, as is. Mike Shower & David Eastman.

  • The author states: “One of the governor’s vetoes was $1.5 billion that legislative leaders in the House and Senate had tried to tuck back into the Permanent Fund, in an attempt to keep it out of the hands of the dividend program. This was the wrong move by legislative leaders and the right move by the governor.”

    Explain why the veto by the Governor of moving $1.5B from the Earnings Reserve Account where the funds can be spent on anything a majority of the legislature decides and placing those funds in the principle of the Permanent Fund where it cannot be spent was “the right move by the governor.”

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