The math: The Legislature's $525 dividend is worth only $195 in 1984 dollars - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, July 24, 2021
HomePoliticsThe math: The Legislature’s $525 dividend is worth only $195 in 1984 dollars

The math: The Legislature’s $525 dividend is worth only $195 in 1984 dollars

The third year that the Permanent Fund dividend was issued, 1984, it was the lowest in history at $331.29.

If this year’s dividend was to match that smallest dividend in history, factoring in inflation, it would be $872 today.

The $525 dividend that is in the 2022 budget for eligible Alaskans is only worth $195 in 1983 dollars, also because of the effect of inflation.

That makes it by far the smallest dividend in the history of the fund, at a time when the fund is nearing $82 billion, the largest balance in history, an account that is far greater than the gross domestic product of Luxembourg ($72 billion).

It amounts to $1.43 a day for each eligible Alaskan, not enough to be helpful to private sector workers who have been bludgeoned by the pandemic policies of 2020-2021.

The reason the $525 was established for this year’s dividend check is because the rest of the dividend was used as a hostage against the Legislature’s fiscal hawks to force them to vote for budget items they disagree with, or lose more than half of the possible $1,100 dividend.

It was a carrot and stick approach to get them to vote for something less than what is guaranteed by Alaska Statute.

According to Alaska Statute, the lawful calculation of the dividend is based on a five-year average of the Permanent Fund’s performance. It varies depending on the stock market and other factors. Alaska Statute mandates that the dividend is calculated through this method:

  1. Add fund statutory net income from the current plus the previous four fiscal years.
  2. Multiply by 21%
  3. Divide by 2
  4. Subtract prior year obligations, expenses, and PFD program operations
  5. Divide by the number of eligible applicants

If that formula was followed, this year’s dividend would be over $3,000. But since the Gov. Bill Walker era, Alaska Statute has been ignored, and now it’s the “leftover dividend.”

The highest dividend awarded was $2,072 in 2015.

Then-Gov. Bill Walker vetoed half of the 2016 dividend and allowed $1,022 to be remitted to Alaskans for their share of the oil wealth.

Once the statutory calculation was abandoned, all bets were off as the dividend became not a calculation, but a calculated way to leverage other budget items through the legislative process.

Read: Senate protest vote shows conference committee failed in using $525 PFD as threat

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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.

Latest comments

  • Class action citizen / voter lawsuit.

  • Somebody remind me what a “statute” is and why I have to follow them.

  • That’s $195 in 1984 dollars too much.
    Thanks to Senator Von Imhof for reading you “Deficit Dividenders” the riot act!

    I’m sad to see what has happened to my Republican party. Cynical politicians appealing to human greed and avarice while destroying our State’s credibility and financial stability.

    Thanks to the few remaining shining lights: Senators Stedman and Von Imhof.

  • Zero integrity.

  • Suzanne: “Once the statutory calculation was abandoned, all bets were off as the dividend became not a calculation, but a calculated way to leverage other budget items through the legislative process.”

    Have to disagree. This year became a litmus test about forcing the Deficit Dividenders to show themselves as the big spenders borrowing even more money from the CBR to inflate the Dividend. Good grief, after all these years, can you at least acknowledge the relationship between deficit spending and the Dividend?

    I thought when ultra-liberal Senator Wielechowski lost his lawsuit by unanimous Alaska Supreme Court decision that people would wake up and smell the coffee. Apparently not.

  • Here’s Dunleavy’s chance to go big, or not at all. If he vetoes the budget, as is, and shuts down the government for 90 days, it will teach the state employees to be more careful whom they vote for, and what they demand in return. Yes. Hit that entitled crowd in their pocketbooks, just like all the rest of us were hit for 15 months.

    I live on $1,400 per month, plus dividends. I was healthy enough to work a part time job the last two summers, averaging $400 per month.

    The stimulus checks bailed me out this year, as I can’t work at all anymore.

    Double dipping state employees (quadruple if both retired from two jobs) are getting up to $24 thousand per month retirement, with benefits.

  • What example is set by a legislature that doesn’t follow the Statutes they pass, because they want to ignore the Statute? The Liberal Supreme Court also said they don’t have to follow the Statute also. Why does any Alaskan have to obey any Statute passed by the legislature if the body responsible for passing them refuses to follow its own laws. They also routinely ignore laws passed by Alaskans concerning the length of the Session and the Constitutional language about their duties and length of Session. The courts could compel them to follow the law as written until they vote to rescind or change the law, but no they refuse to sanction the legislature so they make a mockery of Alaska law and its Constitution.

    How do we teach children and young adults that they must obey laws passed by a bunch of people that don’t obey the law and refuse to change it because it is politically dangerous to their continued retention? I used to tell my sons when they complained about following the law on marijuana that the law is the law and you must obey or get it changed. Using the Legislature as a model Every Alaskan should be able to pick and choose the laws they want to follow.

    Every legislator should be ashamed of the example they set for every Alaskan that follows the laws that they pass. You wonder why many people don’t obey the running the red light, or school zone speed limit or kids using drugs, drinking and driving, the hundreds of Alaskans operating vehicles with no license or insurance and drunk laws? Look to the Supreme Court and Legislature for they set the example for all law abiding Alaskans. NOT!

    Concerning the legislators that left Juneau while they were still in session and with business not done. They should be impeached for abandoning their duties like any real Alaskan would be fired for walking off a critical job before it was completed. What if your heart or brain surgeon walked off their job before they finished?

  • Alaska, enjoy your $525 leftover dividend! Remember this day when the election cycle comes around and they want your vote to go back to Juneau and do it all over again. Memories are short and we’ll see them again doing it to us and singing the economic blues about how difficult it is to cut the Operating, Capital, Mental Health budgets, so you can’t possibly ever see (in your lifetime) the full statutory dividend.

  • How is it that statutory law is not followed? Are other statutes optional too?

  • We need to replace every legislator who voted for this. Then we need to go back and fix the calculation to reflect what it was originally.

  • There should be recalls in over half of the State House and Senate districts announced any day now, sadly this will not happen.

  • So we get Nothing
    It’s the Law
    It’s our money.
    It’s the people’s PFD

  • Thieves… This isn’t a game – it’s against the law.

  • How does that stack up to the Operating Budget in 1982, using 2021 dollars?

  • Next year will be the highest in history based on average earned income. The five-year average of the fund is weighted based on 100% plus 5% to inflation proof it or in other words.21% is 105% divided by 5…So As the most recent year comes in the 5th year drops off. Last in First our for those accounting majors LIFO..SO what is my point. 2021’s average earnings are 25%, 2020 (%), 2019 (%), 2018 (%), 2017(%). Historic earnings means a Historic Dividend according to the Hammond 50-50 shared average earnings. It will BE HUGE..

  • We have hope the state will have more oil and gas production and as a result more money. It is time to find ways to improve. The key is in changing the broken oil and gas system and making it better.

    The state has so much oil and gas but the leadership runs risk capital away with the worst tax laws and oil and gas agencies, it is simply the current rules and regulations that are unfair and cost too much and take too long. The evidence is clear, Alaska oil production has dropped every year for decades and Texas has increased with an elected oil and gas commissioner.

    Alaska is a big unfair company town and it has been killing the life out of the economy and the great people of Alaska

    The system is unfair as it favors a few big companies as they abuse the rest. When will someone wake up the sleeping wealth that sits underground?

    It is time to change the oil and gas laws so lots of new risk capital will come and invest in Alaska’s vast oil and gas potential and make Alaskans wealthy and happy again?

  • It has been said: “Well, we keep voting them in.”, which was true and still is to a degree. But the more egregious thing is when candidates, for senator, representative and governor promise they will defend the PFD and then they stab you in the back. This causes voters to think they can trust no one to do what they said they would do and they lose heart.

    We need to dump them all. Maybe this time they will get the message… but probably not. Many are liar… um…lawyers anyway.

  • And Lisa is criticized for RINO proclivities! Gotta love Alaska “Republicans” for Universal Basic Income. It should be a “reality” TV show.

  • Thieves in suits.

  • It may not be that long before TAPS will become uneconomical, and get shut down. It’s certainly due for a major and very expensive refit, as so much of it is corroded dangerously thin. They’re already talking about steel compression re-enforcement sleeves.
    If Biden keeps hammering against Alaska oil, It will happen, because new oil, increasing the flow through rate is the only way that TAPS can stay economical, and be worth maintaining.
    Of course, Biden is so old that he doesn’t have to plan for any long term anything. So, it’s not going to be his problem very much later.

  • private sector workers who have been bludgeoned by the pandemic policies of 2020-2021.
    funny the economists had a different take
    Despite the job losses in 2020, Alaskans have, on the whole, seen their collective income increase by roughly $1.4 billion over the past year thanks to the federal funds, mostly in the form of direct stimulus payments and greatly expanded unemployment assistance, he noted.

    “As bad as things are the majority of people have kept their jobs and are in a better financial situation than a year ago,” he said.

  • “Chris Nyman occasionally writes for Must Read Alaska”. That’s funny. A funny smell.

  • Oh poo… Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team won again.
    .
    Want a clue how they do it, download Alaska’s Lobbyist Directory. (aws.state.ak.us/ApocReports/Lobbying/LobbyistDirectory.aspx)
    .
    Select “submit”, select “export all pages”, CSV file. Voila! –421– special interests who bought lobbyists who got them reservations at the public trough.
    .
    Save the download as an Excel spreadsheet.
    .
    Add up what special interests pay annually to the lobbyist half of Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team ($24M), works out to about $400K per legislator.
    .
    Mainstream-media reports a crisis? Search key words in your spreadsheet. Funny how often the search turns up a lobbyist and a special-interest client who care about that specific crisis.
    .
    Then see which elected representatives suddenly start talking about Getting More Money for that specific crisis.
    .
    See it enough times you want to ask, could the whole sordid mess actually be a RICO racket, an epic pay-to-play enterprise, created by “public servants” self-sequestered in the Holy City of Juneau, totally insulated from the masses, accountable to -nobody- for what they do, an enterprise in which they intend for Permanent Fund Dividends and Alaskan voters to play no part?
    .
    What else could it be when you realize: (a) special interests want what they paid for, (b) they’d hardly gamble $24M annually without knowing their investment worked well in the past, and (c) they’d hardly gamble $24M annually without some guarantee the politicians they bought or leased will deliver what they want.
    .
    Look at it this way… who in their right mind chums political waters with $24M but expects nothing on the hook?
    .
    Lost count… how often the legislative half of Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team raise their middle finger to voters… which means voters can be fairly sure most legislators don’t give a damn about them or their dividends… which means the dividend problem probably can’t be fixed without a Constitutional convention.
    .
    Check the math again? 421 special interests + 60 legislators, most seemingly owned or leased by special interests + a judiciary apparently owned and operated by the Judicial Council and obsessed with recalling Governor Dunleavy + ranked-choice voting + Dominion vote-counting equipment
    .
    vs
    .
    Governor Dunleavy + AWOL’s (Alaskans WithOut Lobbyists)
    .
    Juneau, we have a problem.

  • MORRIGAN: Good take. While technically it may not qualify, by the letter of the law, as a RICO violation, it most certainly appears to be a violation of the spirit.

  • “The math: The Legislature’s $525 dividend is worth only $195 in 1984 dollars,” Its also only worth $21 in 1884 dollars… and 12,075,000 Vietnamese Dong at today’s exchange rate. These are are entirely irrelevant emotional points. The fact is, even a $2,000 dividend does not dramatically improve anyone’s life. The entire PFD program merely transfers the addictive and debilitating curse of free money from the political class to the voter class. It diminishes the self-sufficiency of our populace and diverts everyone’s attention away from truly important political issues.

  • JosephDJ,
    .
    Maybe so… seems worth investigating when you read a few bits about what’s happening elsewhere:
    .
    U.S. Attorney in Ohio alleged House Speaker Larry Householder “conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering.”
    .
    Leeland Yee, Democratic legislator from Bay Area, pled guilty to racketeering.
    .
    Brian McLaughlin, New York Assemblyman, was indicted on 44 federal counts, including racketeering, money laundering, bank and mail fraud, labor bribery, and embezzlement.
    .
    Georgia Attorney General announced indictment of Clarence Dean Alford, former member of the Board of Regents representing Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, for one count of racketeering, one count of criminal attempt, one count of computer forgery, and five counts of forgery in the second degree.
    .
    Could this be happening in Alaska? Motive, means, and opportunity exist rather obviously to make it happen. Pattern of facts we have, news we know, truckloads of money changing hands, and a lot of things we don’t know which remain unexplained by those in power who do know… should we worry?
    .
    Here’s hoping Alaska’s U.S. Attorney is looking into it.

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