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The check will bounce: Alaska House passes $1,100 dividend with money that isn’t there

The bill to fund the Permanent Fund dividend may have the governor’s name on it, but it’s not his bill anymore. HB3003 pays Alaskans less than one third of the legal amount for their annual dividend, as set by Alaska Statute.

The $1,100 PFD is also not the compromise suggested by the governor — the 50-50 plan, which would come with a constitutional amendment that voters would decide on: Should the formula for the PFD be placed in the Alaska Constitution – yes or no?

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There’s a problem with it, and it all comes down to color of money. The Legislature has deviated from past law that said the Permanent Fund dividend source was the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account that was transferred into dividend fund.

This year, the House majority is re-upping what passed two months ago, when the dividend is paid from different monies. One is general fund, not the ERA, and the other is the Statutory Budget Reserve.

Here’s where it gets tough: The money the House is trying to use to pay the dividend — the SBR– is not there. Money available in the SBR in June was vetoed by the governor. On June 30, any money not vetoed in the SBR was swept in to the Constitutional Budget Reserve. So the money the House is using for the dividend is not in one of the funds it’s using.

Barring anything else, such as a judge’s order, the check will bounce.

The money available for the dividend in the General Fund is only about $600 per dividend recipient, a fact pointed out by Rep. David Eastman. The vote was a gaslighting operation, to try to make this the governor’s fault if the PFD is only $600.

This is coming at time when the Permanent Fund is just shy of $83 billion.

On Monday, a proper solution for the permanent fund dividend — paying a full PFD as established by Statute — failed narrowly.

Read: House votes down statutory PFD

As for the Fiscal Plan Working Group, which was supposed to come up with a plan going forward, it saw its suggestions to allow the people of Alaska to vote on a new PFD formula ignored.

The 50-50 plan, as it is called, was accepted by many “full PFD’ legislators as their compromise.

“I thought it was our first step toward compromise. It was our step for those who might not be a full PFD person. It was a huge compromise,” said Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake.

“There’s no impetus to put the PFD into a constitutional amendment. Leadership has said it will not happen,” he said. “Many of us thought it might be good. Many of us thought it might be bad. There was a path forward. The path has to start with putting it out to the voters. We have seen none of that. In fact, we have heard, ‘Don’t even try.'”

“The bill doesn’t contain a PFD. It’s not a Permanent Fund dividend. It’s just a check from the SBR and the General Fund. It’s not what we were sent down here to do. I’ll be voting no,” said Rep. Chris Kurka of Wasilla.

Rep. Adam Wool, a Democrat representing Fairbanks argued that the money is there. “I guess another court case might be happening, I don’t know,” he said. “This Permanent Fund needs to last infinitely, oil will not last infinitely,” he said, and mentioned global warming as a problem for oil in Alaska.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


  1. So they voted to keep on spending money they don’t have. Kind of sounds like status quo to me. If Alaska gets in as bad as shape as California did under Arnold, maybe the feds will come and bail them out.

  2. It should be so simple to just follow the existing law and get it done….but these Whack O’s can not seem to step on the grass next the the sign that says stay off the grass or touch the wet paint next to the sign that says ‘do not touch wet paint’.. we seem stuck again with a legislature that is lawless and refuses to legislate and a Governor that just cannot seem to bring himself to govern..!!

  3. Funny how these politicians think this money is coming out of their OWN pockets….. $83,000,000,000.00. Not sure how many are eligible to get it this year, but by past years, looks to be about 630,000 on average @ $1,100.00 is 693,000,000, or less than 1% of the account. Yeah we would definitely go broke if they had to pay out the entire $3,000 that’s due. Geez!!!!

  4. Many times I wish my parents left the State of Alaska for a state where its people are less dependent on state and federal government resources, and where it does not elect state legislators only residing there because of Alaska is the easiest place for them to be elected to any public office. Alaska is the place where its people are dependent and poor where lying ambitious persons temporarily come to steal their fortune. That’s my state.

    • I do not depend on ANY government program, including the PFD.

      Dependency is a personal choice, not dictated by geographic location.

    • There is no State in the United States of America that doesn’t have a segment of the population depended on the State and Federal Government. You are delusional is you believe otherwise. Alaska has a tiny population of 730,000 people. That number will decline again in the next census. There is no rational explanation for the behavior of the Legislators. Alaska is a wealthy State. Full of natural resources. Those resources are theoretically owned and produced for the benefit of the people. Something stinks in Juneau.

      • I so agree with you this PFD c— only came about when Bill Walker was allowed to screw it up; this issue needs to go away and put it back to the original formula which automatically sets the amount every year the PFD does not belong to the Alaska politicians and they need to get their hands off of it !

  5. I remember a time where it was based on how well the investment went. Now it is based on how much is left after all the social ‘progressive” spending of elected politicians and what they decide to give out as scraps.

    Politicians should have NEVER been allowed to touch any of that money.

    • They weren’t. Then some lib wackos decided to challenge the statutory formula. AK supreme court libs ruled that the PFD was an expenditure, and had to be appropriated by congress. Chaos ensued. Short of a Constitutional Amendment, chaos will continue. AKSC mistake was assuming that it was the State’s money to spend – it’s held and administered by the State on the people’s behalf. Bolger erred greatly.

  6. They’re acting like its their money. Another year of them with mass amnesia, and the people getting shafted, nothing new, nothing to see here, its what they wanted and they got it.

  7. There will never be a “compromise”. Their “compromise” is to trample the Alaska Constitution and principles of prudent financial management. All this salivating over the size of the Permanent Fund is proof itself that human temptation and greed over the Dividend is the driving force of the Big Dividend people. AND don’t forget that at least $12 Billion in the PFER is owed to the CBR! See you at the Alaska Supreme Court.
    Sadly, you big Dividend people don’t seem to understand that we are on the threshold of rapidly increasing dividends in the future if we stick to our guns on the 5% POMV.

    • Are you slinging your hair around too Chris? We will continue to see increasing PFDs under the Statutory Formula – 5% POMV is a rip-off. Looks like the State owes me more than $13,000.

      • Me personally? I wouldn’t be able to do that but I could show you on a doll where it is hurt thousands of natives. Lots of native kids I would point to their stomach because they’re going to bed hungry. If the doll had clothes I could point to the rags that some kids are having to wear to school passed down from previous siblings has they wore them out. I once knew a little girl that wore tennis shoes that was three sizes too big for her. Nobody should have to go to school like that.

  8. Repeal SB26 and all of the sudden their is a lot of earnings in the earnings reserve. Transfers from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) Formulated Based on Average Earned Income Held as Undistributed Earnings (4/5ths averaged over five years) with 1/5th as Distributed Earnings (5/5ths averaged over five years includes 5% for Inflation Proofing) or a 105% of Earnings Divided by 5 years each increment Equals 21% of Average Earnings to be Distributed in Equal Halves or 50-50. (Undistributed Earnings equals 84%) (Distributed Earnings equals 21%)

  9. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same amount the house or democrats tried to pass in the original budget? But instead split it into two separate bill trying to force the hands of the valley legislators and was only able to pass the $525. So after all the public input, special session and special working group session, they decided to just go back to the first budget?

      • As I recall, Governor Mike vetoed the PFD, thus making this year’s payment zilch. If all else fails, it will be Standing Tall’s decision that tanked it.

        • Well $525 was hardly a dividend when the statutory pfd is around $3800. So good for the Governor to have vetoed that joke of a dividend. He should have vetoed the whole budget, that’s where he messed up. I know everyone wants to, but can’t solely blame the Governor for no Dividend this year.

  10. I have a 90 year old friend who is on a very fixed income.
    As far as I’m concerned these thieves stole thousands of dollars out of his back pocket and
    laughed as they did it.
    Absolute thieving scumbags.

  11. Our Governor should execute not his will but ours, the people of Alaska with possessory rights those imprecise liars have chosen to deflect. Our will is to notice they didn’t do their jobs. They failed. Turn off their spigot. Release them from their failed efforts of representing the fiduciary interests of Alaska’s freemen. Appoint by reasonable means those from the regions (names drawn from a big white cowboy hat or a mukluk) and start all over, for 2021. We couldn’t do worse.

  12. I was going to comment on the issue again, but, you know, I’m really just tired of the whole darn thing, with people fighting over free money that isn’t there anymore. I really thought Alaskans could sort out their affairs, but instead they keep acting like spoiled children. So, good luck to you. I’m done with this issue. If you can’t sort it out then you can just keep fighting it out year after year, and then your kids and their kids will continue to do the same. Done. Finished. Don’t care anymore. Gone. Goodbye. Adios. Sort yourselves out, folks. Aren’t you all tired of it, too?

    • We are tired of it for sure, I figured since you don’t live here you wouldn’t have concerned yourself with it anyways…but thanks for telling us our business on your way out the door. How are things down there in Washington anyways, sounds like you had a couple hot spells.

    • The issue for some isn’t that we rely on the PFD, it’s the ground that continues to be lost with state money and revenue. For people as yourself a constitutional means nothing and can be changed at any whim. However to others, it’s a binding agreement made by the people for the people. This money, no matter how irrelevant it is to you, does not SOLEY BELONG to the state government. You can give up your portion as you see fit, but the government has no right to violate the constitution, no matter how many end runs they put on it. The ground that we are loosing will end with no PFD to the people and state income tax. That is the trajectory of irresponsibility spending.

  13. We need a new legislature. There might be some good ones, but I’m all for throwing the baby out with the bath water on this one.

  14. I find Adam Wool’s remarks about the permanent fund needing to exist in perpetuity interesting. The fund is generated from resource development. Most of the people of Adam’s political stripe are anti development.

  15. Honest question: How many state employees were fired during the course of the pandemic?
    With fewer businesses needing paperwork approved, fewer restaurants needing inspections, fewer people driving on the roads and fewer planes, ships and trains transiting our hubs, why did the number of state employees, who are there to serve the public, not drop precipitously?
    Each state government employee we get rid of pays for around 140 of these PFD checks. Just sayin.

  16. “It” is about the republic’s Constitution. It is the people’s protective device exactly for tyranny such we see now. Same tyranny advancement of monarchical admiralty “law” from foreign shores onto this continent, same players even, Whidby, as you completely know and understand. We have

  17. And another thing: Today’s Permanent Fund resource is the cumulative result of the labor and effort by citizens of the State since its inception in 1980. As such, it stands to reason that everyone who contributed to the economy since then should be entitled to a dividend, and not just the current residents. If I lived in Alaska for 35 years and contributed to the economy over the period, why should I sacrifice my PFD upon leaving, and let someone who just moved up last year collect the full amount?

    I think that there is some sound rights logic here, and perhaps a lawsuit pursuing this line of reasoning is in order.

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