This is our 'rainy day': Alaskans need the PFD now - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, April 7, 2020
HomeColumnsThis is our ‘rainy day’: Alaskans need the PFD now

This is our ‘rainy day’: Alaskans need the PFD now

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

By JOE GELDHOF, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Alaska is at a critical point.  Oil prices have tanked.  The threat from the COVID-19 virus is obvious.  Our state’s fiscal and budgetary situation is in chaos.

The wealth Alaska has received in the last four decades from oil belonging to the citizens has largely been spent.  Looking back, it is easy to determine we spent too much of our non-renewable oil wealth and saved too little.

As a result of our spending habits, we face a fiscal crisis, one that is augmented by the COVID-19 virus, low oil prices and a volatile stock market.

Our organization, the Permanent Fund Defenders, believes prompt action is required to prevent Alaska from falling in economic catastrophe.  Instead of managing this crisis, we fear our elected officials will accelerate the raids on the Permanent Fund earnings and deny Alaskan citizens the direct benefits of their savings account.

Now is the time for all Alaskans to stand together to defend the Permanent Fund and use our savings wealth for the benefit of every Alaskan.  

Wealthy Alaskans and those with power want to divert funding for the PFD into government, so they do not have to pay taxes. This hurts those among us with the smallest resources and builds the budget on the backs of the poor.

Given the crisis we face, the wise thing for our elected officials to do is immediately make an additional PFD payment based on the 2018 application process. Using the 2018 application process (for the 2019 check) will allow for payment of a $1,400 within 60 days, benefiting every eligible Alaskan and especially those most in need.  

Payment of $1,400 to every Alaskan eligible for a PFD last year will provide a buffer to the economic uncertainty caused by low oil prices and the COVID-19 virus. 

Alaskans need relief today, not down the trail. Governments like Hong Kong are making immediate cash payments to every adult resident to stimulate their economy, a move hailed by many economists as a sound way to protect the economy and reduce economic uncertainty. 

Alaska’s people and our economy will benefit from an immediate payment to every person of $1,400. Payment now, based on the eligibility requirements from last year when the PFD was reduced, will help Alaskans through these difficult times.

The earnings generated by the Permanent Fund belong to the people of Alaska, not the lobbyists and special interests trying to deny Alaskans from obtaining a responsible share of their saved wealth.

For too long, Alaska’s politicians have avoided making the hard choices that would put our state government spending on a sustainable trajectory.  Our politicians have spent too much, avoided tough calls on making government more accountable and toyed with various borrowing and fiscal incentive schemes that favor powerful special interests. It’s past time for Alaska’s elected officials to put the citizens first and stop pandering to special interests.  

Now is the time for the legislature to act by appropriating a portion of the earnings wealth to the people. The earnings wealth derived from the Permanent Fund belongs to the citizens of Alaska, not the special interests.  Payment of an additional $1,400 as part of the 2019 PFD program will help individuals in our state and mitigate the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 virus and a diminished economy. 

Going forward, what Alaskans deserve and need is a constitutional amendment that permanently protects the Permanent Fund. 

The mineral resource wealth from our commons belongs to all Alaskans equally. Every Alaskan deserves an equal share of our wealth.

After the legislature appropriates a supplemental PFD payment, they need to put a constitutional amendment before the voters allowing for a sensible draw from Permanent Fund earnings, perpetual protection of the Permanent Fund from the ravages of inflation and a guaranteed payment of a dividend to every eligible Alaskan.  

Permanent protection of the people’s wealth and payment of a dividend is hardly a radical proposition. After all, the wealth belongs to the people of Alaska, not the lobbyists and special interests trying to deny Alaskans from obtaining a responsible share of their saved wealth.

The Permanent Fund Defenders Board includes: Chairman Clem Tillion (Halibut Cove), Jack Hickel (Anchorage), Rick Halford (Aleknagik), Joe Geldhof (Juneau) & Juanita Cassellius (Eagle River). Website: www.pfdak.com

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Latest comments

  • We should all demand a PFD payout now. It’s time to take care of Alaskans.

  • Hear, hear!

  • A word of reason! So sad that our legislators don’t understand the concept.

  • The Governor can work on the Economic Emergency by distributing full back and current PFD’s from the ERA using this:

    Current Disaster Law:
    Sec. 26.23.050. Financing.
    (a) It is the intent of the legislature, and declared to be the policy of the state, that funds to meet disaster emergencies will always be available.

    (b) Whenever, and to the extent that, money is needed to cope with a disaster, the first recourse shall be to money regularly appropriated to state and local agencies. The second recourse shall be to money available in the disaster relief fund or, for oil or hazardous substances discharges, the oil and hazardous substance release prevention and response fund, as the governor determines appropriate. If money available from these sources is insufficient, and if the governor finds that other sources of money to cope with the disaster are not available or are insufficient, the governor may, notwithstanding the limitations imposed by AS 37.07.080(e),
    (1) transfer and spend money appropriated for other purposes; or

    (2) borrow money for a term not to exceed two years.

    (c) Nothing in this section limits the governor’s authority to apply for, receive, administer, and spend grants, gifts, or payments from any source, to aid in disaster prevention, preparedness, response, or recovery.

    • I suggest you listen to Mike Porcaro today, where he specifically states that you are incorrect…the governor cannot simply pull money from a hat and dispense it at his convenience. Give it a rest.

  • It would also be a good time to divest the PF from foreign interests and invest in AK.
    The state will need a few good projects to employ Alaskans in the next few years to come.
    The global economy just had a reality check and the ridiculous amount of travel and consumption needs to slow down.
    It will be a long time before tourists are packing onto cruise ships and jet setting around the world…the good side is Alaskans may get to see the positive effect of working together towards a common goal.

    • Steve,

      By investing in outside interests the PF keeps from putting all our eggs in one basket. If the whole of the PF were invested in in-state interests (probably the first time I have ever started four words in a row with the letters ‘in’) we would be in much worse shape than we are today with our diversified PF portfolio.
      .
      In better times, I could see a use for providing loans for in-state businesses, at this point…

  • Comparing Alaska to Hong Kong or any other country isn’t reasonable for one big reason: countries can print money and deficit spend, states cannot. No other state that I’m aware of is considering handing out cash to its citizens, and for good reason….because the money has to come from someplace. No where in your article to you explain how the government should continue to exist for more than a year and still make this kind of payment to the citizens. Opinions may vary, math does not.

    • Trump is giving us money. I’ll take yours. Thanks

    • The place it will come from is called the Permanent Fund, it’s kind of the entire point of the article. You can read more about it here https://apfc.org/

    • Corporations are created by government so the government can tax them. Corporations are not taxpayers, but instead are tax collectors. They only add tax to the price of their goods and services and the consumer pays this indirect tax but cannot lose their home and land.. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • I’m in favor of any money the crooked politicians and former governor stole from us, going back to the people it belongs too- with as little washing and wasting it thru the government as possible. Get it to the people ASAP. It’s theirs anyway, and it’s needed now more than ever.

  • Joe,
    I absolutely agree with you. So should every citizen with any sense at all. So should the politicians currently attempting to steal what’s left of the PFD. But they won’t. I don’t believe it makes one bit of difference to the liberal led legislature if the citizens suffer. As long as the leftist agenda is achieved. What better time for the left to promote the propaganda that declares “the gov’t will take care of you, don’t worry”. Disaster in the making. Instead of standing together for every Alaskan, the pockets of everyone are being picked and theft is rampant by dems with an agenda that benefits no one but them and their “supporters”. Time for that to change, especially in Alaska.

  • Is $1,400 even going to pay 1 months rent or mortgage for the majority of Alaskans? I would rather see a financial stimulation package for businesses who are laying people off due to the quarantine and economic crisis.

    • No but it will let me go to your business and spend it there.

    • $1400/person could help a family of four get by for 60 days, if they are streamlining, only paying for essentials, and if you consider UI and help from the Feds, it could last longer.
      I do think it should be more like 2k/person- and plans should be to do it again in 90 days- but I’ll take whatever relief we can get right now. It would be best if it was just issued to the citizens and not doled out via programs where it is largely lost in the gears of government.

    • What world do you live in Kris, are you a government worker? Yes $1,400 per person will pay for the majority of Alaskans rent or mortgage. In a family of 4 it will pay for many months worth of rent or mortgage.

  • If it’s our rainy day I still see people walking around without protection. When do Alaskans start realizing that taking this thing seriously is going to diminish the long term economic impacts to the State?

    .

    People still traveling to everywhere and coming back without self quarantining. Going out in public and not practicing good public health precautions. Money is a band aid for idiotic and self destructive behavior at this point. We need to start behaving like Alaskans of old and start exhibiting some self dependence and foresight. Get ready to get those gardens and canners rolling and tighten those belts. Next winter is going to be a long one.

    • We need to be more considerate of our fellow Alaskans, without a doubt. Most of those coming and going and exposing the rest of us to this are idiots and most likely idiots from the lower 48. Ways to show you are considerate of your fellow Alaskans are washing you hands frequently, sneezing or coughing into the crook of your arm, washing your hands, not buying all the toilet paper you can get your grubby hands on, not going out of state and returning, washing your hands, helping those around you than need help, washing your hands, and then wash your hands again.
      .
      There are a lot of idiots out there, but there are more of us who aren’t idiots. If and when we go to martial law we will know who the idiots are because they will be treated as the public health and safety hazards they are and removed from the general population.

      • I started keeping an extra bundle of TP on hand for my out of town friends who are getting stuck driving to 5 stores and going away empty handed. It looks like it’s coming back now though.

  • I would rather get advice from Bob Geldhof from the band Boomtown Rats,

    • Chris Nyman, being unable to refute Mr. Geldhof’s argument you elected to employ invective, questioning Joe Geldhof’s integrity and intelligence. A cheap debate tactic favored by Lenin.

  • This is still the Law. Regardless how our legislators want to spin this, we are owed for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. That amounts to with interest $5,555.00. There is a legal double standard in this state. Our legislators must obey the law. Are we as citizens seeing this happen? The money has been there since 2016. The legislature must stop the excuses and pay us. We have legislators who sanctioned Representative David Eastman for “not obeying the law” regarding the Rule 82 payment of legal fees for Planned Parenthood. This was a demonstration of their ignorance of the constitution and the law. We are asking these same people to obey the law. Isn’t AS 43.23 still the law? We need to change these lawbreakers or they need to start understanding the law and obey it.

    • Michael: All spending formulas enacted in statute are not binding in the context of building a budget and appropriating funds for programs, projects, etc. That applies to school funding formula, debt repayment formula, the PFD formula, etc. As a matter of constitutional law, spending formulas in statute are aspirational, not binding.
      The only way to guarantee payment of the PFD is put the measure in the Alaska Constitutuion.

  • OK. The horse is out of the barn. Looking around in the barn isn’t going to help, nor is closing the barn door.
    The problem that we are facing is that the state has spent more money than it is taking in (I hear a chorus of cheers in the background), but has also failed to “pay the bills” (I hear a chorus of boos). Those bills are payments to pensions, adequate delayed maintenance support, properly boosting education for the increased population we have absorbed the past twenty years, supporting law enforcement and support systems for released prisoners so they won’t repeat their crimes, support for mental health care within the buroughs and the state in general, support for children being raised in poverty, yawn…I could go on and on.
    Why didn’t we pay those bills. Because there is a large chorus of Alaskans who believe the PFD was set up to allow them to receive the benefits of the “shared” resources of the state. So, they are looking for their own, state sugar daddy.
    In rational, responsible societies (ooh, the “social” word), we band together for the good of the whole. We also allow for certain freedoms, such as civil rights. F’rinstance, private property ownership is OK for your personal space, but owning a state (or, in Hawai’i, an island)…(wait a minute, scratch that last part) is not. The general ownership of the common land is meant to be there for the good of all, like, recreation, wildlife, land for future development, reasonable resource extractions that doesn’t ruin the state with pollution or rape it by taking all the money and running, or stealing all the fish…or gold, or copper, which can either benefit the foreign owned mining company that is doing the extraction (of both ore and money) or the residents of the state. But in this remarkable state, filled with a few remarkable people, the majority decided that they want theirs and screw the rest, so they voted the “anti-goverment” contingent into office and turned the state over to the oil companies.
    Oil was a pretty good haul, but people forgot that it runs out after a while. And they forget that democracy requires a certain amount of responsibility. And that it has to be paid for (recall the adage? “You get what you…”). And so, now that oil isn’t the golden goose it once was, they are now demanding that they get what’s coming to them and are finding out that is exactly what is happening, and that putting whatever stooge they can find who says what they want to hear isn’t going to cut it anymore and that the bills are coming due, and that someone is going to have to pay them or they will get thrown out of their freely(sic) acquired lifestyle, cold hand still holding appropriate gun.
    It’s time to pony up. We’ve been on a free ride since 2001 (when I arrived, my memory doesn’t go back any further), and it is time for true Alaskans, those who love this state and believe in the people who live here, and raise families here, and who die here, to come together for the common good and drive the money hungry carpetbaggers out of our state and start building it back up like the pioneers we are.
    We still have a helluva bank account on our side. It’s called the Permanent Fund.

    • “In rational, responsible societies (ooh, the “social” word), we band together for the good of the whole. We also allow for certain freedoms, such as civil rights. ”

      This is the inverse of actual liberal democratic political theory. We don’t “allow” for freedoms, we retain rights and privileges, as individuals, against each other and the government. We merely surrender some exercise, in some limited cases, insofar as such exercise necessarily harms or puts others at risk. The only right truly “given up” is that of personal vengeance, which we turn over to the justice system for redress of wrongs. The government owns nothing but that which we, as individuals voluntarily associating via the political process, allow them. It is important that the fundamental philosophical premises of our system of government not be ignored or misstated, that way lies tyranny.

      And the oil is not “running out,” we continue to find new sources, and innovate new ways to extract proven reserves previously unrecoverable. Prices have dropped not due to scarcity (which would stand fundamental economics on its head) but rather due to over-abundance.

    • Early in your diatribe you state that you “could go on and on”.
      Unfortunately, you did go on and on…and on…and on…etc. After several paragraph long sentences that just went on and on and on, I lost all interest in further reading of your comments. Perhaps a short course in effective communication would allow you to make a 200 word comment in less than several thousand words. You lost me after after the first few.

    • The government gives no rights. It’s only job is to protect the rights God gave us. With our Constitution we had our Property Rights stripped from us, the PFD is the restitution. It’s not the best solution, but it’s what we have.

  • For twenty plus years now I have woken up at 5am, made myself a cup of coffee, read the morning news and laced up my boots and headed to work. I work 6 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day in the sun, rain, sleet, wind and snow, all to provide a better life then I had for my family. Do I need a PFD? No. Am I going to send my families PFD’s back? Not a chance. I’m not wealthy or powerful, I do not want to pay a tax in the name of handing out a PFD, but you would have my families earned income taxed to achieve your end.

    With all that is currently happening in our State you advocate for sending out a $1400 dividend. All I can say is thank god there are saner minds than yours and the Governors in the Capital Building.
    Thoughts from an Alaskan that enjoys the things we have and would prefer to keep them free.

  • Suzanne gets the best writers in Alaska at MRAK. Great Piece, Joe. And yes, we need that dividend now. This is Dunleavy’s shining hour.

  • I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

  • I was born October 17, 1945 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska U.S.A. The United States was created as a “Constitutional Republic” in 1787. During and right after the Civil War it was Unconstitutionally changed into a Socialist “Democracy”. See “U.S. Senate Report 93-549”. I was born a “Freeholder” with all my Unalienable (Un a Lien Able) Rights for “Allodial Ownership” of my Land. In September 2015 I Declared I was a “citizen of Alaska” and Recorded this at the Palmer, Alaska Recording Office. In July and August 2019 I Published a “Legal Notice” in the “Anchorage Daily News” demanding my “Allodial Ownership” to my Land. I gave 90 days for anyone to challenge me and received no challenge so I Recorded this at the Kenai, Alaska Recording Office. I am one of “We The People” who wrote and Ratified “The Constitution of the United States” and therefore I am “Sovereign”. Being a “Sovereign” of this “Constitution Republic” called “The United States of America,” I am Lawfully entitled to an equal share of all the Resources of the Unsettled Lands in Alaska instead of “The State of Alaska”, and the Right to take a Homestead in accordance with the “1862 Homestead Act”. Article 12, Section 8 of the so-called “Constitution of the State of Alaska” proves it is only “Corporate By-Laws”. The first thing we need is a real “Constitution”. I very much agree with most of what I have read of the goals of “The Permanent Fund Defenders Board”. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • The flow of money through our economy has been horribly stifled only a blind man, or a selfish individual (union) would refuse to see that. Literally thousands of people in this state who were working 2 weeks ago, are not working now. Even large businesses are feeling the pain. The economy NEEDS some help. 1400 from the earnings reserve is totally affordable and would be a beginning. The govt people are getting paid, even if they aren’t working (teachers, univ. workers). Private sector isn’t. If the legislature doesn’t step forward and help it will be a spit in the face to everyone in the private sector.

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