Breaking: Permanent Fund payback plan announced - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Breaking: Permanent Fund payback plan announced

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THE TOTAL RESTORATION IS AS MUCH $3,678 OVER THREE YEARS

Gov. Mike Dunleavy today explained to Alaskans how he intends for the State to pay back the Permanent Fund dividend portion that the Administration believes belongs to Alaskans from the past three years of the Walker Administration.

He provided two bills today. One that would make special appropriations from the Earnings Reserve Account, a $17 billion sub account of the Alaska Permanent Fund, for payment of “unpaid permanent fund dividends.” The bill also authorizes the next four fiscal years of dividend payments.

“I am transmitting a special appropriations bill that authorizes the payment of unpaid dividends, which came as a result of executive and legislative action, in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

“The transfer occurs over the current and next two fiscal years. The bill also authorizes the transfer for the payment of the Permanent Fund Dividend Program for the fiscal years ending 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.”

The other bill directs the Department of Revenue to pay dividends over the next three years, according to a formula, to certain eligible individuals.

“Eligible individuals will be determined by the receipt of a prior year’s dividend and the eligibility for a current year’s dividend.  Individuals eligible for the 2016 unpaid dividend are a person who received the 2016 dividend and is eligible for a 2019 dividend; an individual eligible for the 2017 unpaid dividend is a person who received a 2017 dividend and is eligible for a 2020 dividend; and an individual eligible for the 2018 unpaid dividend is a person who received a 2018 dividend and is eligible for a dividend in 2021.”

RESTORATIVE ACTION

Dunleavy characterized his bill as fulfilling his commitment to Alaskans.

 “I intend to follow the law and take restorative action to the unpaid portions of the permanent fund dividends from 2016, 2017, and 2018 to eligible individuals,” he said in a statement.

For 2019, Alaskans would receive back pay of $1,061, but will have had to have received a 2016 dividend and be eligible for the 2019 dividend.

For 2020, Alaskans would receive another $1,289. That’s only for those who were eligible for a 2017 dividend and still eligible for the 2020 dividend.

For 2021, Alaskans would get an additional $1,328, if they received a 2018 dividend and are still eligible for a 2021 dividend.

While running for governor, Dunleavy said he supported returning to the historic formula for establishing the dividend amount each year.

He characterized this plan as fulfilling his promise to Alaskans and said if Alaskans want to change the way the Permanent Fund dividend is calculated, they should vote on it.

“As our economy faces a recession and our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation, the payment of the unpaid amounts of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 dividends, distributed over the next three years, can significantly contribute to improving Alaska’s economy. It will also restore the trust of Alaskans that we will follow the law and the statutory formula that has been used since the first dividend check was issued in 1982.”

Commissioner Bruce Tangeman said he views the payback as a separate issue from the POMV — Percent of Market Value — that was passed by last year’s legislature and signed by the former governor.

“This is just making correct the past three years,” Tangeman said.

The commissioner acknowledged that all of this is subject to appropriation, and that will take the agreement of the Legislature. One Legislature cannot bind the hands of future appropriators.

Tangeman said it will take a couple hundred hours of programming to add this calculation into the Permanent Fund Division’s system.

“I think in the end the Legislature will do the right thing,” Gov. Dunleavy said, adding that many Alaskans will use the money to make repairs after the Nov. 30 earthquake.

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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.

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