Senate can't decide on PFD amount - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
HomePoliticsSenate can’t decide on PFD amount

Senate can’t decide on PFD amount



Today’s vote was a bust in the Senate for SB 1002, the bill that would have set the Permanent Fund dividend for this year at $1,600, the same as last year, or even $3,000, the amount it was amended to on the Senate floor.

Sen. Shelley Hughes offered the amendment to make the dividend whole, and her amendment passed, 10-8, increasing the dividend to $3,000, the amount that it would be if the Legislature followed the statutory formula.

Then the bill, as amended, went for the vote of the body, but even winning 10-8 there were not enough senators in the chamber. The Senate needed 11 votes to pass a bill. Both Sens. Tom Begich and Mike Shower were excused.

Shower announced last week he had to return to his job as pilot as he was out of leave time. He is scheduled to return on Friday. The Senate can then rescind its vote and take it up again.

The Legislature has been in special session since May 16 and has yet to pass an operating budget, capital budget, Mental Health budget, the Permanent Fund dividend amount, and has also not included fiscal year 2020 education funding in the budget — that item is heading for a lawsuit against the governor, who insists that the Legislature must appropriate the funds in order for him to distribute them.

Meanwhile, Gov. Michael Dunleavy said earlier this year that the dividend should be $3,000 and he offered a constitutional amendment to the Legislature that would be voted on by the people, setting the formula permanently and removing it from becoming a political football.

The vote failure in the Senate prompted Speaker Bryce Edgmon to take advantage of the situation and say it wasn’t the House Majority’s fault that there is not PFD.

“Today’s vote in the Senate perfectly illustrates why an operating budget has not yet been enacted: debate over the amount of year’s Permanent Fund Dividend is consuming the Legislature. This is why we believe the Legislature should first pass a responsible budget to provide students, elders, and business leaders certainty in the critical services they rely on. Then we can focus on the many important questions surrounding the future of the Permanent Fund,” Edgmon said.

House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt took a more pointed approach, poking back at Edgmon:

“Two months ago, we offered multiple amendments during the budget process that would have ensured that we would avoid costly special sessions. Those amendments were not taken up. Instead, we still stand without an operating budget, a capital budget, a mental health budget, and K-12 education funding,” he said. “The House Majority’s refusal to discuss what’s best for Alaska is doing long-term damage. It is well past time for the 24-member House Majority to pass a dividend, an operating budget, and fund education, as is required by the Constitution.”

House Finance Co-Chair Tammie Wilson said today on Facebook that she supports a full dividend: “I made an effort to bring the discussion on whether or not it was time to look at the formula. The answer was basically no. So until the formula is changed, I will be voting yes on what is currently in law,” she wrote, in response to public criticism of her HB 1002.

There are 11 days left of the special session.

Donations Welcome


Written by

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

  • I’ll start with a quote by Napoleon.: ” If you wish to be a success in politics, promise everything, deliver nothing”.
    The fools driving in the Alaska legislature deserve nothing in the way of “public support”. The inane reasons for refusing to do what they are elected to do are a shame upon Alaska. How about this one?: ” The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time congress meets”. Will Rogers. The attempt to justify their actions border on absolute stupidity. Also, they must think all Alaskans are as stupid as their “faithful constituents”. Not the case. Alaskans want what is rightfully theirs. Competent politicos, lawful, rightful actions and regard for their constituents. All their constituents. Not just a handful with a big mouth and a want for others money, even though that’s the case, currently. The PFD needs to quit being a political football. It was/is defined, historically, as the property of the people of Alaska, not the politicos. The attempts to steal it are ongoing and a disgrace. Simply to satisfy the stated wants and wishes of asea, liberals and socialist dims. I certainly look forward to the attempts at blatant theft stopping. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen.

    Another: ” Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent”. Napoleon, again. Think about that, Alaskans. The more who speak up for righteous discipline by our politicians, the better. Being quiet will not win.

    • Well said and written, Ben Colder. I couldn’t have said it better. Alaskans, are you listening?

      • Agree!

    • Well said!!

  • Tammie Wilson will fall in line with other Republicans at the last hour, knowing that she has alienated everyone from her. Democrats despise her. Republicans do not trust her. She’s in the wilderness alone, without a friend, and without a governor who would otherwise support her. A lesson unlearned.

    • Actually, if you know anything about politics you would see that she is playing a very intelligent gain. Politics is about the achievable and in this legislature so closely divided she has placed herself in the strongest position possible which makes her able to push where needed and stop what she can, probably the most important thing she can do.

      She introduced HB 1002 to show the House that the people will not tolerate the changes to the PFD program and it did just that. By our overwhelming resistance to the established powers they conceded the fight. Exactly what she planned.

      And yes there will be those, ignorant of politics, who will condemn her for not being in the wilderness of the minority, but without her where she is you would be in a far worse situation.

      • Why is she not supporting the governor? Is she really smarter than the governor? I doubt that. She has been powerless and effectiveless as a legislator since 2010. She wanted a flirtation with power and the Finance Committee, run by Democrats, offered that. Myopic sightedness. With the majority of voters on the governor’s side, Wilson will
        die on the vine.

  • 11 more days of failure and we get them in Wasilla! Thats when the fun begins!

  • The Upper House has as many idiots and bozos as the Lower House. What part of VETO don’t you dunces understand? Governor Dunleavy us going to give Alaskans a minimum if $3000 PFD this fall. Period. That’s why the majority of Alaskans elected him, and continue to support him. GO HOME OR GO TO API. We’re done here.

  • We know Shower had a good reason, where was Begich?????

  • Very odd that Senator Shower was absent or that the vote could not have been scheduled so that he could attend and vote. Speaking from some experience with the Senate, it isn’t hard to count to eleven. If Senator Shower is dodging this vote, it will cost him with his constituents. If it was just a scheduling issue, the matter will come up again. If it is NOT brought back up, something funny is going on.

    Some of the other machinations regarding the dividend and Permanent Fund are bizarre. Apparently some refuse to make the appropriation for the dividend from the earnings reserve account, which, to my knowledge, is where the earnings from the Fund are deposited. That is just nutty. And no coherent rationale has been advanced for depositing most of the earnings reserve into the corpus of the Fund. I think the question should be asked: “What value does the State and the citizens get from the principal of the Permanent Fund?” Frankly, if it cannot be used as collateral and we refuse to invest it in Alaska and further, if we refuse to use the earnings, the entire Permanent Fund is a waste. Saving money for a purpose is good, but if there is no purpose for saving, it is just goofy.

  • Very cool of Governor Dunleavy to individually thank each member who voted to support his PFD plan today on Twitter.

    If your rep is NOT on that list, it’s time to call, write, or generally excoriate your lousy elected official.

    Having said that, just watch. In the end, The Force will be with him.

  • These wackos in the Alaska Legislature are INSANE. The average Alaskan couldn’t give a rip about any one of them.

    • The average Alaskan doesn’t vote so the average legislator couldn’t give a rip about any one of them either…unfortunately.

      • Steve:
        When the average Alaskan “non-voter” doesn’t get her/his $3k this fall……they will become voters.

        • I sure wish that were true, the previous Governor and legislature have taken about half of the PFD the last three years and voter turnout numbers have trended downward during that time. Last general election, that included the governors race, turnout was below 50%. The governors election before that turnout was almost 60%.

          • Steve: that’s because many of them were brainwashed by the mainstream press into believing the PFD payout was a BAD thing. But now, we have MRAK and Suzanne showing the Truth of the matter. Changes are in the wind, starting last election with Dunleavy.

  • Hi there,

    My name is Kobe Rizk and I am the college intern at Must Read Alaska. I noticed the high commenting activity on this post. I want to encourage you to view our newly launched political forum on the website. To do this, go to the MRAK home screen and select the “Forums” tab at the top menu bar. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected], or if you would prefer, reach out to Suzanne. You have the ability to create your own topics and discussions, and I would encourage you to share these with fellow MRAK readers. We would love to see some more activity on this new and exciting part of the MRAK project.


    • Will check it out!

  • Why do we continue to pay these people while they are in a Special session? They didn’t do their job the first time around.

  • I am a UAA employee and I am in favor of taking all your PFD’s to pay for my benefits package and fund my retirement.

  • There are two type of thieves in the world. The first are the ones we despise. They wear ski masks and yield guns, knives or some other weapon. They separate valuables and money from their victims with the threat of violence. The latter are the ones we vote for. They wear nice clothes, suits and ties. They smile and kiss babies to show they are of kind heart. They are written up in history books for their “achievements”. In reality, they use a pen and a smile. Though they are supposed to be “transparent”, they will hide information and disavow they knew anything about it. They have no scruples of robbing you blind for their personal gain by making it appear that it is something for the “public good”. This group needs to be watched very carefully and reminded constantly who they really work for. There’s a sub-group to this. They are the non-elected. They use the employees union as their shield, making them untouchable. Perhaps it’s time to bring back public hangings. As a reminder to what happens when you steal from your employers.

%d bloggers like this: