This is the year for no PFD. Change my mind. - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, May 29, 2020
HomeColumnsThis is the year for no PFD. Change my mind.

This is the year for no PFD. Change my mind.

AN ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF A ZERO DIVIDEND IN 2020

Alaska businesses won’t fill up with tourists and their money this summer, if the current “cruise ship crisis” continues.

Tourism, which accounts for one in 10 jobs in Alaska, brings in over $4.5 billion a year in economic impact to the state’s private economy.

That’s about the size of the state budget (undesignated general funds).

But this year, that money won’t come; from Ketchikan to Fairbanks, private businesses that operate in the tourism sector have been knocked flat on their backs. Untold families that depend on visitors to Alaska won’t be seeing a paycheck for another 18 months, and the businesses they run will not be hiring this year. Many are likely to fail.

Losing that sector of the economy is not the only problem Alaska faces.

The price of North Slope crude oil, projected to be in the mid-$60s, has dropped into the $30s due to a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and now the slowdown of the economy due to the coronavirus. Alaska’s budget was built on oil selling at twice what it’s now selling.

Oil brings the revenue that runs state services, from education and public safety to roads and bridges.

But wait, there’s more.

Commercial fishing is in trouble. With the coronavirus hitting hard all over Asia, the salmon fishery is going to have a very tough year indeed: Who will remove all those pin bones and package that fish? Who will buy that fish? The market for salmon has dried up overnight. Within three months, the Trump Administration could be declaring the 2020 Alaska fisheries an economic disaster.

Alaskans knew that the State budget was already fragile, but with all three pillars of the private sector hit hard this year — tourism, oil, and fisheries — it’s shaping up to be a scenario reminiscent of the 1980s recession, when people left the state in droves as the economy cratered.

The coronavirus, if it hits Alaskans hard medically, will take an additional unknown toll on government services, as the health care system faces strain and people expect more from their state government.

The scenario painted here, if the writer has succeeded, shows an impact on Alaska worse than the grounding of the Exxon Valdez.

Times like these call for Alaskans to pull together like they never have before.

It’s not a time to introduce more state spending, if not directly related to health and safety. It’s also not a time to introduce taxes on the beleaguered oil industry, or a new income tax on those Alaskans who will still be fortunate enough to have a job in six months.

Some, like the Alaska Municipal League, are calling for that broad-based tax. In a letter to the Legislature, the League reminded lawmakers that even last year it had advocated for broad-based taxes (income tax), a position the group has held since 2015.

Of course, for the AML, there has never been enough money for government, even back in the salad days of $110 oil.

But others are saying before that broad-based tax happens, it’s time to zero out the Permanent Fund dividend.

Already, the dividend appears to be in the $900 range, as discussions take place in the Capitol about how to balance the budget. Even with a dividend under $1,000, the budget does not come close to balancing.

Some are asking: Why not take the PFD down to zero this year, and keep basic services running during a time of state, national, and international crisis?

Conservatives are divided on that question. Permanent Fund defenders say that the annual dividend is a royalty that they are due, and Alaska Statute defines how it shall be paid. They want the law followed, whatever the result may be.

But others say if this was a company royalty, it would not be paid this year at all. No responsible CEO could justify proposing it, and no board of directors would approve it. The “company” is in the red and is now fighting for its life.

Of course, even with a zero Permanent Fund dividend, Alaska’s budget is in the red. For 2020, there’s already a $350 million deficit. Going forward for 2021’s fiscal year, which starts in July, the deficit is between $400-500 million — and that is without a dividend.

The Constitutional Budget Reserve was always the backstop. It started out this year with about $2.1 billion, but the supplemental budget took it down by some $200 million; the deficit ate even more. That leaves barely over $1 billion in the CBR to help balance the 2021 budget.

The statutorily calculated dividend this year could be as high as $3,000, an amount that some conservatives argue is irresponsible.

WHAT ABOUT BUDGET CUTS?

There are still some expenditures that should be held flat, such as education. This is not the time to increase funding for any program that is not directly related to health and safety. And that includes the increases some legislators want for the Pioneer Homes and ferries. We should not be paying out-of-state ferry workers to operate boats for what is often literally a handful of passengers. And yet we do.

There are still cuts that can be made to the state budget, and should be made. State office workers could take more furloughs, for instance.

But the real time for the correction to Alaska’s glory-day budgeting was in 2015-2019. If that correction had occurred when it should have, the economy would have adjusted to it by now.

Today, with crisis hitting from every direction, legislators can’t enact deep cuts, as to do so would further destabilize the entire state. That time may be in the future, but not this year.

That’s why a zero dividend makes sense. But to do so, there needs to be a grand bargain to recalculate the dividend formula going forward.

It’s not healthy for citizens to be receiving $3,000 from their government each and every year — not when the Constitutional Budget Reserve has to be paid back. Additionally, even if it says “royalty” on the check, it’s looking more and more like an entitlement that is creating a dependency mentality. It may say “royalty,” but it’s a lot like the income redistribution of socialism.

JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION

What are your thoughts about zeroing out the Permanent Fund dividend this year? What would you require from state government in order for that to be acceptable? Add your comments below. Civil comments, that is.

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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

  • I believe you are right. I also believe that until the PFD is gone the government will not cut services. Our government and, unfortunately, many non-profit organizations are bloated and living in the past. We’ve seen that the legislature will not be responsible and caves to special interest groups. It’s unfortunate that their lack of planning and accountability will now hurt all Alaskans.

    • Ok, so if everyone is gonna be knocked on thier backs this year and tourism is down. Let’s take their PFD too!

      • I think that after Gov.Walker tapped into it. The whole legislature went wild thinking of all the ways they could spend the money. It is the peoples money. And just like I have to balance my books, so do they. Cut back raises, bussiness trips and
        work from home. Have more independent audits to cut fat. And
        Consolidate services. And get corrupt spending out. Just like President Trump said. Drain the swamp. We have one of the richest states. Give me a break. I’M frome here. I see money going in and money going out. Be accountable.

        • Ms. Downing is spinning the same old tired song of the conservative ideology. Conservatives can not tolerate seeing anyone get what they tirelessly refer to as “free money.” Of course now they say, “entitlement.” But it is truly deplorable for anyone to use the Coronavirus as a battering ram to try to eliminate the pfd and burden the people who depend on it by saying people have become overly dependent on the government. Ms Downing is the typical conservative who thinks that unless you have a home paid for and a couple hundred thousand in the bank you are a total disgrace and you should be kicked to the side of the road and out of everyone’s way. Sadly, this has become typical in American society and American politics.

          • It is conservatives that have been fighting to protect the pfd. Where have you been? 🤔

            And it is not free money. It is a dividend from investment and paid to the shareholders, us. We gave up our subsurface rights to our property in exchange for collective ownership of subsurface resources.

            Those of us that waited hours to testify at senate hearings last summer on behalf of protecting the pfd were mostly conservatives. It was the big government leaning groups crying for the pfd to be spent on government.

            Ms. Downing also was defending the pfd. What is happening today is catastrophic and a game changer.

            We are now looking at riding out the storm and keeping essential services.

            By chance did you just move here?

          • You don’t know anything about conservatives.

        • If everyday residents are forced to spend their savings and retirements to get by this year then why would the state not help with the dividend at least at last years level? Next year may be better if the virus thing is solved to consider all options again. I just think your timing is off.

          Bob

    • If they pay out zero then every Alaskan has a lawsuit that they can file. We traded our subsurface mineral rights for that PFD & if they produce zero that’s grounds to sue for breach of contract……

      • Med check time for Blackcat.

      • Blackcat: I understand your frustration, but that suggestion that the sub-surface mineral rights were an assert that we’ve ‘traded’ away for a PFD is simply unfounded. When the State was founded, it was the Constitution that gave those rights to the State. There was no offer to pay citizens cash as a result.

        • Actually, it was a condition in the statehood act. Fed figured that Alaska had so little income sources, that minerals and oil would be just about it for a long time.
          The agreement was that of the land allotted to Alaska, the subsurface rights were to remain with the state, and couldn’t be sold along with surface title, whenever Alaska sold any of it’s land.
          If I’m correct, even the Mental Health Lands don’t include subsurface rights.
          The 12 Alaska Native regional corps however were granted subsurface rights because the lands granted were all federal.

        • Another stupid opinion article. Let’s hose everyone because of a virus induced downturn. Another liberal excuse to grab money that doesn’t belong to them. Fiscal responsibility is the root, your opinion is garbage.

    • Well w me lower rent cost an up beifits for foodstamps an housing for low income people that would be my requirment

  • The simplest solution is liquidated the PFD. Give $10 billion to government the rest to be divided between the qualified applicants. Now that the camels nose is under the tent they will kept raiding the fund until it’s all gone. Best thing now is at least give the money to the people before they send it all.

    • The days of the PFD are numbered. It’s over. Best to get a share now or nothing later.

    • Michael for govenor.

  • Wow, that’s extreme Suzanne. Don’t you realize that what the economy needs right now is the PFD money being put through it. It has way more effect than government spending and really helps the small businesses. This is exactly the time for a full PFD. The Economics Demand It.

    • She’s using many of the same talking points that the unions, liberal, and special interests use. Saying that it’s socialist and all sorts of other blah blah blah that we always hear from people who want to steal the permanent fund from individual Alaskans. regardless of the fact that study after study has proven that a statutory PFD vs cuts, benefits the state overwhelmingly as a whole, and lifts thousands of alaskans out of poverty. PFD cuts have the worst adverse affect on the state as a whole.
      Every dollar of the PFD spent in the local economy turns into three and four dollars by the time it’s gone.

    • This was my initial impression as well. Infuse the economy through the people not the government.

    • I fully agree with Lance Robert’s, I absolutely don’t trust the state legislatures, the alaskan people have several times to their state reps. what we Alaskans want and we get completely ignored, I know that the pfd has 60 billion in it and so there’s no reason not to have the full pfd.

  • There’s plenty to cut. The State needs to downsize. They should suspend all large gatherings INCLUDING THE LEGISLATURE.

    • If govt were cut 20% we wouldn’t even notice for a year. The private sector has already done so; did you notice? No. Next year start outsourcing things that we really think are needed; probably save another 20%.

  • With the Binding Caucus being controlled by the tax and spend Liberals in our legislature, who believes they will not continue to make horrible decisions and try to force it on the Governor, if their recall petition fails and he is still there. If we had reasonable people in our Legislature it would be a no brainer.

    • “No brain” being the key ingredient.
      This is the same pap we’ve been hearing since I came to the state in 2001. It has finally caught up to us.
      Tell me where the state budget is bloated. It’s easy to say that it is, but tell me exactly what you would cut. The Bridge to Nowhere?” Check. The Susitna Damn(sic)” Check. The Corrupt Bastards Club? Done, or is it?
      The increasing budget for the governor’s office? Why not cut that? He’s the one who wants to cut everything, why not HIS budget?

      • The legislative chef and subsidized meals. Funded, unfilled positions carried over year after year. Ghost jobs, they call them. Those alone would pat for half the pfd. It’s a neat little trick to ask “where would you cut?”. The average person doesn’t know where all the largesse is stashed. But there are ways to find out. How’s about the Governor’s Commission On Waste And Fraud? Private sector audit of the Public sector. Reagan tried it and if the Congress would have followed through we might not be 24 trillion in debt. But people think they`he won the lottery when it comes to enriching themselves off the public.

  • How about a program where concerned citizens could opt to donate their permanent fund and others such as myself, a retired senior citizen living on a fixed income, could choose to receive theirs out of necessity. Also, I can appreciate all you are doing here Suzanne but please don’t put yourself in the position of being a “cheerleader” for giving up the pfd. It just puts a target on your chest and is unnecessary. It’s not your responsibility to solve this crisis unless you are an elected legislator. To a degree, they are responsible for putting us in this position, and like wise the primary responsibility for dealing with this dilemma belongs to them.

  • The permanent fund is what gets me through the winter for heating fuel and food now since Governor Walker stole my money I’ve lost 40 pounds of weight which is making me ill because I only eat one meal a day. I can’t afford to eat more I’m physically disabled and I receive 828 dollars a month from social security. I worked for 30 years. I received a 13 dollar a month raise and then I lost 40 dollars in my food stamps, so having my full PFD gives me a little bit more each year. Taking money from poor and disabled people is purely shameful and very ungodly. So when our leaders say they believe in G-D they are just lying to us. They believe in getting rich on government money and the people’s money they don’t care about anyone but themselves.

  • The first thing the spendaholics in Juneau should do is be honest and rename the Alaska Permanent Fund the “Alaska Temporary Fund”. They won’t stop spending until it’s all gone. Then they will come after us with broad-based taxes. At some point the sleeping giant will awaken, demand accountability, and the gravy days of government will finally come to an end. But I don’t think that will happen until we’re destitute with no way out.

    There is a sad truth why you hear jokes like, “It’s so cold I saw a politician with his hands in his own pockets.”

  • Taking (taxing) 600 or 700 million away from people directly hurts the economy.

    Why should all government services get first call on our money?

    Before taking 100 percent of our royalty oil dividend….how about a 20 percent reduction in government services, 20 percent in staff, 20 percent from government before 100 percent from the People.

    • How about a 100% take away of TB. You sir, and your ilk, are the reason the state is in the precarious situation in which we find ourselves today. You and your ilk milked the state for decades while the oil money was flowing, all the while being stingy with the programs the state had that would make it the kind of place to which people would want to come, like decent, properly funded public schools, a support system for seniors, like the Pioneer Homes, a university system that wasn’t gradually starved to the point where is truly could be “drowned in a bathtub,” adequate health care, and a viable arts and humanities community, so our citizens would have something to do other than sit and watch TV.
      “The true measure of any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” A few comments above your post is a story from someone who is relying on the meager resources made available to him from your so-called “socialist” government. Do you wish to gainsay Gandhi? If so, I eagerly await your response.

      • You really haven’t been paying attention have you Greg? We’ve been spending more than just about anyone on all of the things you listed above, it’s a big reason we are in the financial trouble we are in. Throwing good money after bad isn’t a sound investment strategy. The answer to the problem we have isn’t to spend more.

      • GREG R – Your comment is a deserved direct hit on Tuckerman Babcock. Given the chaos he generated we’d all be better off if we never heard another peep from Dunleavy’s ex-Chief of Staff and henchman. The only question I can’t answer is, “Was his decision making done by design, or was it simply ignorance?”

  • the state can afford to tighten their belts better than the citizens who you describe as not going to be working as much, Then there are the fixed income seniors, etc. good time to readjust state spending.

  • It’s not the Alaskan resident’s fault that our legislators can’t balance a budget. Its very visible many are blinded by special interest leaches, who zap funds in the multimillions of dollars every budget year. A full Permanent Fund Dividend shall always be paid in full. The Alaska State Government needs to cut government expenditures and balance the budget. A complete State audit should have been completed years ago, so we know precisely where all funded dollars have come in and gone out. I would suggest that all agencies under the State umbrella be cut 10% and let the directors of each make the cuts.

    • This budget stratagem is typical of someone who hasn’t looked at even a simple budget. Say you have your home budget set up so that 28% is for housing, 30% for food, 17% for health care, 10% for transportation, 10% for entertainment, and 5% for a slush fund. Are you going to cut your budget for food, housing, health care, and transportation, each by 10%. If so, you are going to be living in a smaller, place, maybe not as nice, eating out less, or not at all, or eating less because you can’t buy groceries, and riding the bus rather than driving your Prius. And if you’ve been cutting back in previous years, your house has already become smaller, your eating patterns have been trimmed, your health care is tenuous or non-existent, you gave up cable TV long ago, and there is no slush fund.
      Lose one paycheck and you are no longer in play.
      Now, does that sound like a good idea to you?
      That is the situation in which we find ourselves today because the we, the people, who decided whom to put into state government want our PFDs, and no taxes, and the oil companies to pay for everything.

      Those days are over. You can look forward or you can look back, but you can’t go back. You can only go forward, and going there doing the same things that got you into this mess will have highly predictable consequences.

  • I am disappointed with this opinion. Certainly, I understand that when the PFD changed from a pass through dividend to to an appropriation this act changed the nature of the dividend from a capitalist payout to a socialist handout. This is exactly what SB 26 was designed to do. It was the decoupling of the PFD from the Earnings Reserve which gave politicians like Senator Von Imhof the narrative to call it a government spend. I would suggest exactly the opposite going forward. I agree that all the factors this writer highlights will have a major impact on our private economy. This is precisely why not only a full PFD should be paid out, but the restoration of funds taken from previous years. Our State Constitution Article 1 section 2 states that the resources of this state belong to ALL citizens of this state, not special interests of the state. I would argue that the distribution of the PFD is the most equitable resource distribution devised in our history. A full payout and payback, while costing $4 billion, would inject massive funds into an ecomomy about to take a major hit. Given the fact that the PFD money circulates at least 4 times in our economy. This would be massive. Taking the PFD to maintain a bloated and ineffective government to exactly to wrong thing to do. In closing I chaired United for Liberty as we produced a budget book in 2017 which identified specific cuts of $1.5 billion to state government without disrupting essential services. I traveled to Juneau and presented all legislators with the budget book. The majority threw the book in the trash and went about ignoring the fiscal trainwreck we were heading toward.

    • And after the PF is completely depleted, then what?

    • Well said, Mr. Chambers.

    • I COMPLETELY concur with Michael Chambers opinion. J. Franco

    • What Chambers is saying rings true. It puts a lot of little nagging questions to rest.

    • I can picture them doing that. Many are disrespectful to the citizens of this great state.

  • I’m leaning toward supporting the “Surplus Dividend” concept; a phrase I first heard from the late Sen. Chris Birch

    As suggested in your post, the CEO/Board (Governor/Legislators) are tasked with managing the company’s (State’s) finances; both revenue and expenses. It’s entirely up to you and I to elect the right people to run our state. If a $3,000 PFD is the voter’s number 1 priority, then elect a slate that will: 1. slash state expenditures and/or 2. create additional revenue and/or 3. increase the 5% POMV draw from the Earnings Reserve of the Permanent Fund in order to fund a $2.0 billion payout

    Conversely, if the electorate places government services first, then the PFD is paid in a manner similar to a ‘year-end profit (surplus) dividend’

    I will ask every candidate to be clear on their priorities and, if elected, will expect them to adhere to their campaign position, Some elected officials have done a better job of that then others….

    This is on you and I alone; we get the government we vote for.

  • I’d give my family’s up for a year, if they passed a term limits bill that goes into effect starting with this years election cycle.

    TWO terms Senate and FOUR terms house.

  • I am, as an elected city council member, am a member of AML and attend at least 3 meetings a year with the full membership. The organization as a whole is somewhere “left of Lenin” in its management because Sleetmute has the same vote as Anchorage. This means the unorganized boroughs have an unfair influence on AML caucuses. I have been attending state-wide meetings on different subjects matters in Alaska for over 20 years and somewhere during the meetings the following statement is always heard, “What about the Alaska Bush or Natives?” like the rest of us had forgotten they existed. So, us non-natives give in and award the “BUSH” undue and unearned influence on the subject being discussed as to not being accused of being racist. I find this attitude hard to stomach anymore because of the most single-minded, wanting a bandaid fix now group is the Alaska Natives who I would like to remind when they were invaded by the Russians were a pre-stone age, a pre-neo-lithic society which hadn’t even learned how to forge metal. The Great Alaska natives were 7-9000 years behind the rest of the world. Now we have been told by the native corporation advertising arm that Alaska won’t even be inhabitable if it wasn’t for native groups oversight. What a joke. You can pick up the newspaper archives and read what issues were at the top of the critical need to fix now list in Native villages and it would not be any different than today’s paper. Just change the date on the folio and re-run the article. Problem solved. The management of Bush Alaska lives in two different worlds, the one they believe they live in and the real world. Until they decide which world is better suited for them, there will never be a solution to the problems in rural Alaska. Life ain’t a buffet line where you can pick and choose which dish you want on your lunch plate. Life in America is based on meritocracy and reward, not some racially based system. The state support of geographic areas that refuse to spend their own money on services will come to an end at some point soon. Then and only then will the state’s budget begin to balance and rural Alaska will begin to realize that their precious elders are nothing more than old paid-for mouthpieces with too much influence over the young folks and hadn’t had a new thought in decades. Tell us about “the good old days grandpa” makes good memories but not productive incomes. Get with the program, Alaska and quit living in the 1960s like the legislators and state workers are doing..

    • Ok, that takes care of the Native hate. Back to the real discussion.

    • Wow, so much hate. Do you even know what we are talking about? Glad you could get that off your chest. Now people will know not to vote for you. Life aint all about you.

    • Europeans came and coveted. They took and felt guilt. They couldn’t let go of what they stole, so that guilt turned into hatred for the ones they stole from. That hatred turned into murder, exterminating tens of millions of Natives.
      Their descendants say that what happened in the past is past and gone. That it’s not like that anymore. Mike Dryden is one of the many who put the lie to the claim that the past is gone forever. He is living proof that our 44 million acres, with sub-surface rights is to be coveted, and many are willing to kill for it.
      The Mike Drydens of the world put that wedge between races. That waiting for the other shoe to drop.
      They may eventually succeed in taking what little we have left, and they will feel guilt. That guilt will turn into hatred, and they will kill us, exterminate us once again.
      The past isn’t gone, it never will be gone. The Mike Drydens of the world won’t ever change, can’t ever change. They speak with forked tongues.
      Proof is in the thousands of Alaskan property titles, with covenants, which forbid resale to any Native.
      Genocide is genocide. You can’t ever dress it up. You can’t ever relabel it. The good ones, the ones whom would never do such a thing keep trying to make up for it, but the Mike Drydens never sleep.

  • Wow, Suzanne! Just give it all the big government is your answer? Really?
    Many of the reasons you stated in your own article are the very reasons that the people should geta full PFD, plus some payback by executive order emergency.
    It’s just like Brad keithley says, this is really about the top 20% (Suzanne included apparently) not wanting to pay an income tax. Which is coming anyway once the government and special interest groups spend all of the PFD. basically they are telling the government to go ahead and spend like drunken sailors, as long as they don’t get taxed. Not at near the same rate as the poor and middle class though via a PFD tax. government will only get spending under control when an income tax is implemented and they are held more accountable. That’s from Jay Hammond himself when he was talking about income taxes versus taking the PFD.

  • Everyone wants a “Democracy”. Well here is Democracy in action folks. The “Majority” of T.P.T.B. wants your money. In a “Constitutional Republic”, which our country was Founded as, all the Land along with all the Resources of a State belongs to “We The People”. The money to run our Nation was originally raised by Tariffs, Excises, etc. and whatever the Legitimate Government taxed the Corporations which was passed on to the consumer as an Indirect Tax. We have no Legitimate Government. Read Article 12, Section 8 of the so-called “Constitution of the State of Alaska” to prove this point. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • Welcome to the world of reason Suzanne. The obvious counter-argument to your plan is that ending the Dividend would remove another $1 Billion from the economy during a time of duress. This situation is for which the CBR was established. Instead the Legislature depleted it when the deficit spending should have been funded by the PFER.
    I too, believe the Dividend should have been ended or reduced years ago when the deficits began.
    However I believe we should end it with a “full” $3000 Dividend. Suspend the Dividend program until we get our “house in order”. Which involves:
    1. Tap the PFER for the one-time excess Dividend.
    2. Pay off the oil tax credits (at a discount?) from the PFER.
    3. Re-fund the CBR at least $2 Billion from the PFER. This is just a down payment on the $12 Billion that is owed.
    4. Continue the POMV program. In following years use the portion of the POMV formerly used for Dividends to fund a bigger capital budget and to re-fund the CBR.

    The $3000 Dividend this year would be a buffer to Alaskans for adjusting to life without the Dividend. Some might even use it to leave the State (which would actually be helpful).
    This plan would reduce the PFER beyond PMOV requirements by $4 Billion and the total value of the PF to $57-61 Billion depending on which day of the week it is on Wall Street. But it will clear the deck and set us on a sane responsible path.

    • Interesting remarks, with some merit. One thing not seen though was a Constitutional Spending Cap of 2.5%. Without it, we continue digging the hole we are in.
      Would be interesting to see what you propose would leave the PFER with. Also, not on board with the POMV and SB26. I would want the 1982 Statute followed, the existing formula fully followed, which if course, based on your idea would be a less PFD for now, but would grow like it has in the past.
      Not sure I’m on board completely, but interesting idea.

      • Thanks Mike. FYI The earnings reserve stood at $18 Billion and the corpus PF was $49 Billion at the stock market high for a total PF value of $67 Billion. At the recent market low the total PF value went down to $60 Billion. There is plenty of cash in the PFER to pay our bills. If we did, the finance gurus would be very happy.

  • A very well reasoned article Suzanne, but I fear the rhetoric churned up by a few politicians and some in the media over the last few years will make it difficult for a large number of Alaskans to accept this reasoning.
    The previous administration attempted to deal with a lot of the issues we know face, but was stymied by legislators that weren’t ready to make the unpopular decisions. We now have a Governor that capitalized on those unpopular choices made by his predecessor and used them to get elected. Great strategy, but with the current situation it definitely puts the Governor in a pickle.
    Hopefully with all the personnel changes on the third floor we now have someone in Dunleavy’s ear that can see past a full Pfd. The only out I can see is the PFD and the Governor will eat crow with that decision should he make it. A true leader will admit when they’re wrong and adjust, while I’m skeptical Dunleavy has those qualities I sure hope he makes me eat my words and proves me wrong. Rooting for Alaska.

    • Many families depend on the PFD. If it is taken away, once again we are taxing the people who have very little.

  • This just feels like feeding the beast and starving the people. Services should be adjusted to fit the budget. Businesses closing not only hurts the business, but the employees. Who could use the dividend, as small as it is. Juneau has proven to be less than honorable in fiduciary responsibility. Access to that pile of money will only fuel the already omnipresent corruption, and spending will swell to consume the new pile of cash. Government needs restraint, and there are none now. I agree with Governor Hammond. Give the money to the people, and make the government claw it back. Jay was a smart man with an uncanny prescience of the workings of government in general and Juneau in particular.

  • I can almost support,this view, if and it is an if that would never happen, the correlating activities of running the government like a business were to occur. If the government were a business, departments and divisions that didn’t meet budget or performance goals would see their leadership replaced swiftly. In a time of economic crisis or declining revenues, they would see a right sizing of costs, realigning to products/services that provided an actual return on investment, a curtailing of non-essential travel and activity, more intense scrutiny on efficient staffing and discretionary spending. Yes, no corporation or Board would be issuing a dividend with the budget in the same state that ours is in. But they sure as heck wouldn’t be allowing it to roll forward and produce more if the same, or even become more out of balance and inefficient. Allowing one without a guarantee of the other is beyond poor business, it is malfeasance, and rewards the bad behavior that created the situation the state is currently in.

  • Not PFD related, but after 14 years, we are headed south. Keep up the fight. See you in the funny papers.

    • Bon voyage. I actually agreed with you on a couple of things, tho’ I’d never admit it. Good luck in the real world, and, if you decide to come back, Alaska will still be here, one way or another.

      • Thanks. Yeah, no need to fall on your own sword
        Live to fight another day.

  • I won’t try to change your mind because I agree with your well stated claim.

    Conservatives who rightly desire to ‘follow the law’ should, as you say, push for a grand bargain to “recalculate the dividend formula going forward”. But they should also, as part of this ‘grand bargain’, work to amend the ALASKA constitution to grant mineral right on private property owners.

  • In the 1980’s there was no bailouts, we all survived. Times may have been tough but we did survive.

  • OR…wait for it…this “pandemic” is NOT what the Fake News has concocted and will subside after only a very short time when people begin to realize that it was always only a boldfaced attempt to sink a successful presidency and never an actual global emergency. We can all take a collective breath, wait a bit, watch as the cruise lines resume their schedules and the Alaska tourism begins to rebound in a very large way.

    Also, the fish sale industry to the Far East was never in jeopardy. Fish were not part of the wet market issues initially identified by the “scientists” in China and abroad who pondered where the virus first exploded. Let’s also remember that they STILL (to this day) really don’t know where the virus first had this new emboldened emergence. There are only presumptions and guesses. Yes, it was Wuhan, but for now, we’re not sure about its true origins and maybe we’ll never know.

    As for the political aspect. This viral emergency sits very well with those who have been on the side of doing away with the PFD. Who in all their wisdom could possibly stand for it when such a horrifying and frightening virus was ratcheting up its cruelty on the public and threatened the health and welfare of the people? Oh, yes, it’s a very good argument, but is it accurate? We’re told that the Swine Flu from 2010 infected 60 million Americans and killed 13,000 of them, including 1,200 children! Was the border closed and some industries halted? Yes, but after 9 months of rising infections and deaths. President Obama was never faulted for that decision by the way. And what was the difference between the Swine Flu a scant 10 years ago and this current Wuhan Virus? Aside from the fact that this pales in comparison to the infection rate and death toll? That’s right. The Fake News and Leftwing machine of disinformation has been working in tandem in order to present this pandemic as the be-all, end-all of global viruses. Think about the impact here when the Swine Flu had already ended the lives of 300 children and 6,000 adults and had infected 23 million Americans, this Wuhan Virus has killed 41 adults over the age of 60 with immune-deficiency issues. We don’t know how many are infected, but the number stands at about 1,000. This is the real crux of the matter. The comparison tells a story…NOT of a pandemic that sees no end…but of a concerted effort by the Left to present this situation in as terrible a light as possible for a means to an end…that end is the presidency of Donald Trump.

    So, before we begin trusting the word of career politicians who are not struggling year-to-year living in an amazing, wonderful place like Alaska, and before we begin trusting the words of the Fake News Industrial Complex or Communist China, let’s all take a collective deep breath and remember that the tourism industry has been paused, the fisheries are still hiring, and the oil purchase ordered by the president will benefit Americans (perhaps not Alaskans) but all Americans in the future when a true oil crisis does occur, and leave the PFD to run its natural course. There will ALWAYS be a tendency by many to end the PFD. We don’t need the effort of the Fake News and the Left to push this conversation forward for that to occur. Let our own people battle this out, rather than trust in the outsiders who really don’t have our best interests at heart.

    • Med check time for Mr. Dillinger. Get your paranoia under control and then work out your issues with counseling.

      • I can’t imagine ever debating with this guy. For every single comment you write, this guy answers, “Med check.” It’s like having a debate with Joe Biden. Different last name, but the same forgetful response. Never a valid argument, just “Med check,” which, if I’m not mistaken, used to be code in NYC for “I’m looking for a date. Got any leads?” Sorry, Geldhof, but I’m already married.

        • I believe in the PFD and work to support continued payment as well as putting protection of the PFD in the Alaska Constitution.
          The kind of spew you put out is based on assumption you harbor based on media sources that are ideologically driven and without objective merit.
          You really should get your meds adjusted or get on them if you are not to deal with your narrow minded and paranoid opinions. And counseling might help you apprehend the world in objective terms instead of the little subjective fantasy world you are living in.

          • We have hard Left and hard Right. There is no middle ground left. Nothing left except a binary choice.
            Humm? Sounds like I picked up a binary infection.

    • Never had a more ignorant post been read on here. I’m going with about a 75 IQ.

      • Says the guy who believes Don Lemon is a genius.

  • This is the time more than ever to let Alaskan’s have their PFD. Spending the money to support a wasteful state government bureaucracy benafits only a few. Government got itself into this predicament by not developing infrastructure and alternative revenue sources while spending like no tomorrow.

    The state is in a crisis now, no denying. People who have wanted to take away the PFD to use for government spending for years are going to use this crisis to try and deny Alaskan’s their fair share of the wealth that is being drained from our state. The crisis we are in is the very reason the permanent fund dividend should be given to the people. The money goes directly to the people who desperately need it, everywhere in the state.

    Government bureaucrats who have always coveted the permanent fund and those wealthy who desperately want to avoid a state income tax are the only ones who deny the benefit all that cash brings to our communities. The $3000 each that we were expecting changes the whole financial dynamic for people everywhere in the state who have been drudging through years of recession caused by bloated government and bad planning.

    Giving the money to the people will support the economy far better than spending it on over paid bureaucrats and government programs that benefit very few. Now lets talk about creating a new state government that meets the needs of Alaska and Alaskans while creating opportunities for success and staying within a budget.

  • The reason this governor was elected was because we had lost faith in the last admin and the legislature as a whole.

    It’s the same reason we can’t give the state our PFD. These crooks cannot be trusted. If a PFD could buy us some honest legislators? More than the 3-4 we have now? Or if it would just buy A legitimate, and courageous republican majority- what we THOUGHT we had elected-to govern as honest adults along side the governor-then I would be all for it. Instead, this would be giving the lunatics running the asylum, flamethrowers and hand grenades—no good will come of it. They will mismanage it and NEVER give it back.

    Not to mention, all the households and small businesses hurt by this? They could probably use a triple
    PFD. That may be the best emergency relief package we can offer. Give us half of what they stole back and use the rest for government. That’s one idea.

    But just giving it to these crooks, the ones that hate us, and that think we are serfs in THEIR kingdom?

    No-This would NOT be a smart play.

  • This is a year for full pfd and a payback of all past pfds with an electronic card that can only be spent in state. Give it to the people. Not the government .

  • MRAK, did you get hacked? You’re finally starting to talk sense…lol

      • No problem…we’re in accordance on this one…clear-sightedness makes for strange bedfellows….

        • For the misinformed who asked if I had just moved here, I’ve been here 31 years. It is the conservative ideology that nurtures the hate for “the poor who depend on ‘free money’ but I’ll concede the point that the pfd and Alaska is a different DNA than the rest of the country. Bottom line is that every single Alaskan legislator who has tried to take the pfd from us, or reduced it by not adhering to the formula, should be removed from the legislation – Republican or Democrat. Happy now?

  • Why, during this time of considerable stress and danger for many, should every citizen except public employees suffer the consequences of liberal excess during troubled times? Remember the business model? If a business loses revenue to the point of negative cash flow, what policy must be followed? Very simple. Cut costs, lay off employees, shorten hours and generally down size your business until income meets outgo. What is so difficult about that? It’s business survival. The state should be run as a business. After all, that’s pretty much what it is. If business rules apply, every Alaskan would suffer equally, assuaged somewhat by receiving their yearly PFD. Not have the new “upper middle class” (public employees) thrive while every one else feels the pain. Isn’t that the democracy espoused by the left? I guess that’s only in words, not actions. The PFD still belongs to Alaskans, not politicians. They need to do their job and adjust expenditures to match income in Alaska without stealing Alaskan’s PFD again. If they succeed in robbing the citizens now, kiss the entire PFD goodbye. The original formula for designating the amount of the PFD will automatically adjust the disbursement to account for decreased oil revenue. The politicians won’t. They want it all and to hell with the Alaskan citizens’ needs.

    • Ben Colder – exactly!

  • Suzanne. You started up an interesting discussion on this.
    We must get a handle on spending, that is a fact, period. The Constitutional Amendment to cap spending at 2.5% is the best idea. The second amendment on We the People voting on any attempt to tax us is another must have.
    I can see moving funds from the ER to the CBR, savings account to another savings account. But, and here is a huge BUT, that must be tied in to the spending cap and a legislature less, by a lot inclined to dip into savings, just because they can.

    • Mike, I think the cap constitutional amendment is a ton of work and may not ever succeed politically, THEN it gets put in place and a loophole goes around it.
      We have the tools now to manage our budget but public opinion is highly divided. Thus the politicians are also divided and confused too. You know we already have a constitutional cap, right?
      The only alternative is my suggestion for a $3000 spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down!

  • Those of you who posted lengthy replies….you wrote too much. Yes or no? Yes, I agree that the PFD be suspended. For many thousands of reasons.

  • It comes down to trust, do you trust yourself to spend your money or do you trust government to spend your money? I trust myself far, far more than I trust government.

    • I’d be curious to know just exactly what you so trustingly spent you PFD on. And your neighbor? And your neighbor’s neighbor?
      Just what exactly makes you so sure that every fine citizen of this fine state can be trusted to spent his PFDs in a manner better than the guvmint??

      • I’m curious to know why you feel entitled to my personal property and the property of your fellow citizens. I’m also curious to know why you feel entitled to know what it is that I spend my money on, or what it is that all of your fellow citizens spend their money on.
        .
        Why is it that big government folks always think they know best how to spend other people’s money even when proven wrong time and time again?

  • They were tapping the budget reserve and Rainey day funds when oil was over 100 a bbl.

    • Has anyone checked the full extent of the emergency powers Berkie has in Anchorage now? Some mayors doing this now have the power to restrict the sale of goods like guns and gas as well as seize private property. Where can you find the full extent of his new powers?

  • With all the people suffering economically, you suggest rolling over & giving in to the tax, spend, grow the governnent, & steal your PFD RINO & demokrat leftists? I say this is the time to cut back services to pre-oilfield levels…& let those leave who rely on government largesse to make it.

  • I absolutely disagree with the idea of a $0 PFD. The economy, the private sector, needs the shot in the arm, means jobs, and necessities for families. Further, there is a 3X multiplication factor associated with direct expenditures into the private economy. Gov’t benefits through sales taxes where enacted.
    Further, government has not been cut, not even with Dunleavy’s vetoes, not one of the 26K state employees have been laid off. Yet, in the private sector, there would have been a massive lay off by any company in the state’s revenue shortfall position.
    Further, your assertion is flawed with respect to the source of the PFD. It is not gov’t money, does not affect the budget, because its allocation is based upon the PF’s profit, it is not taken from revenues.
    That distinction is not made clear by the media or the Legislature, but only by the governor, thus far. The money is there, the people can better spend the money than can gov’t.
    We can take this state’s gov’t back to the budgets before Sarah Palin’s drunken sailor party spending by focusing on necessary services and ending the welfare state. People need to WORK. We have resources to develop, there are manifest opportunities, but gov’t stands in the way, that has to change.
    The feds need to end ANILCA, tomorrow, not next week.
    And, the RNCs need to put their lands to work.
    The answer to our money problem is our resources, the bar to using them is government. Cut gov’t to the core.

    • Personal opinion…. I didn’t earn it so I don’t think its owed. However, like most others, I’ve applied for it. I know there are many who depend upon it and with the reduced wages, will really need it. I don’t know how much longer the state will survive without instituting an income tax. That way, low income folks will still get the dividend and those who make more will end up giving it back in taxes. JMO

  • You’re kinda cute in that hat.

    • That`s her koolaid drinking hat.

  • Why was the Dividend instituted ? To provide the People a direct share of the Oil Wealth, a resource that we own in common. It also fulfills the Constitutional mandate to develop the State’s resources for the maximum benefit of the People. What other use of those earnings is more beneficial to the People of Alaska ? The Dividend was set at 50% of the five year running average. Is there a more equitable way to divide that income than 50/50 ? Will the People accept any other split ? A perfect storm of fiscal necessity means what to the residents of Alaska ? The need to take their dividend, or the greater need to receive one ? I would suggest to you that the latter is true. Hammond would call for using the Dividend last, not first. He knew the needs of his fellow Alaskans. An income tax capped at the Dividend amount was his solution to the need for more income. That could be done without even putting a new tax on the Books. Those who want a zero Dividend, because they prefer that to an income tax (that will cost more) will be happy with paying no tax. And those who need the Dividends will continue to get them on a graduated scale. The State gets more income (about a billion dollars) and the other half goes to the State’s residents. It’s a compromise that will not hurt the most vulnerable and needy, and will not take from the wealthy to pay for it. The Dividend program needs protection, not termination.

    • Its a pet peeve of mine> Name-dropping Jay Hammond. He has zero relevance to our current situation. And everyone has their own interpretation of his populist ramblings. You write pretty well but you have a few false assumptions:
      1. You are not owed anything from the commonly held resource of oil. Or I might say you ARE and you also OWE your share of the States bills.
      2. You cannot tsx in order to continue subsidizing unearned and unaffordable Dividends (not a basic function of constitutional government and not legal under the Alaska Constitution). I would though support a program to actually help people in need – like expanded Medicaid or energy cost support for example (these already exist).
      3. Don’t listen to Hammond, Halford, Tillion, Wielechowski, et. al. They are socialists dressed as conservatives.
      4. My recommendation in my comment above is the only strategy that will work. A spoonful of sugar so to speak. Cheers

    • Bravo ! 100% correct

    • Nicely stated.

  • For those who want the government to have more money, feel free to donate your PFD to the government.

    https://dor.alaska.gov/?source=ttcommain

    I would prefer the government be smaller and more efficient.

    Respectfully.

  • Each & every government official that votes against the distribution of the PFD to Alaskans need to be voted out ASAP!!!

    • Suzanne Downing need to be the first to be voted out due to her continued greed regarding the PFD! She’s not keeping her promise to the people that voted her in. She’s not doing her job!!! There people that’s still suffering since the last half payment,children,women & the elderly!!!

      • Celia, Suzanne does not hold elected office. She is the editor.

        • She’s still got my vote for whatever.

  • What can Alaska live without?
    1) Medicaid – Walker’s legacy, we were getting along without it.
    2) U of A – Better colleges, cheaper in S-48.
    3) Gas-line – Doesn’t pencil out in any way, shape, or form.
    4) Pensions – Too many double dipping. Give them choice Alaska or other pension, not both.
    5) State Income Tax – High earners just want to stand on backs of poor by taking PFD.
    6) Reduce upkeep costs – Sell Sullivan Arena, and other white elephants.
    7) Studded Tires – Repaint lane lines offset & force drivers to drive on crowns instead of in furrows.
    8) Unions – Shouldn’t ever be any unionized government workers.
    9) Use Sullivan Arena and other white elephants to house homeless, where they’re under civil
    commitment until have job.

  • Suzanne, Your argument is to end the PFD distribution, the least Socialist scheme, in order to preserve the most Socialist scheme, government redistribution of wealth through a plethora of service offered to a few at the expense of the many. You indicate where your allegiances lie, with those who have amassed great wealth and wish to preserve it, at the expense of those who have not yet done so. Leave it to the Republican elites to cede the moral high ground to Marxists by abandoning that old Axiom, “he who governs least governs best.” It’s no wonder the young are enamored with Socialism the Republican Guard is making it attractive, instead of promoting their classical roots which included a just allocation of resources. Remember the GOP’s first platform ” free land, free trade , free people”? a far cry from the screw us all mentality you seem to support here.

    • Agree with Fish. Dividend is least socialist. All the reasons Suzanne gives to not have a dividend are equally valid reasons to pay out a dividend. A full dividend.
      The federal govt. is even talking about paying money directly to individuals to make up for losses due to the virus.
      Now is the time we will see where each legislators devotions lie!

    • Mark Fish – Well stated. I agree, however all of this is wasted words on Downing and her supporters. They’re one percenter wannabes who don’t give one rat’s tail about anyone else.

      “The limit to human blindness is to glory in being blind.” (St. Augustine)

  • I preface these comments by first writing that we should continue to look for ways to reduce spending by focusing on the essential functions of government and that the Legislature should place an effective constitutional spending limit on the 2020 general election ballot. Now, on to the main topic…

    My formal training in economics tells me that a $0 PFD would be the completely wrong thing to do. There is no classical or modern economic theory that recommends using policy that takes money out of the economy during a recession or negative aggregate demand shock. Please note that at the federal level they are currently employing both expansionary fiscal and monetary policy.

    Can we afford it? Unlike the federal expansionary policy, we do not have to borrow money to stimulate our economy with the PFD. In fact, the bulk of the money that was taken from Alaskans over the last 4 years was put in the ERA. It could be used if the Legislature repealed SB26 or just chose to ignore the statute. I suggest a repeal or change to SB26 because I do not think it is wise for the Legislature to ignore statutes.

    Bottom line – pay the remainder of the 2019 PFD in June which would give local businesses a needed injection of money, and then pay a full statutory PFD in October. This summer and fall would be the worst times to take more money out of the private economy either in the form of a $0 PFD or taxes.

  • So what now Suzanne? You actually created a useful debate. Lots of interest and responses.
    What I would like to see is a continuing and winnowing of the debate. Each winnowed debate on different issues would be saved and accessible on your website. Perhaps you could put these comments into “camps” of common themes and edit your own summary of the camp arguments. Then request the camps give their final argument.

  • Pay the PFD according to the law as it was written….if you want that payout formula changed then put it to the Alaskan voters. But more importantly, the PFD application page allows the Pick.Click.Give. where Alaskans can designate a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividend to causes they care about statewide…. like to the State of Alaska government! If you are so heartfelt on using the PFD to help State Government, DONATE YOUR’S……it’s YOUR choice, don’t make MY CHOICE FOR ME! Jim.

  • Leave the Permanent Fund alone it isn’t the state Governments to touch. Walker started this shit & Dunleavy needs to reverse Walker’s wrong doing, it states in the Alaska Constitution that the Alaska people are to vote on anything with regards to OUR PFD ! Leave it alone and stop cutting it or changing up the formula Unless ALL Alaskans vote to do so !

  • You wanted comments on your article, Ms. Suzanne Downing, so here are mine. You are SO COMPLETELY WRONG in advocating for no PFD this year.

    “The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.” (Proverbs 13:17).

    By your own examples of downturns in private sector sales, mostly from the shut-downs to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, these are precisely the reasons for an immediate economic stimulus to ALL ALASKANS to persevere the health social distancing. Tourism will suffer due to the big cruise ships not being able to sail & dock in many Alaskan ports. Many small & large businesses are already seeing a downturn in sales as people restrict their consumer purchases to cooperate with the various government warnings on social distancing or quarantining, thus pushing some of their part-time workers into the unemployment line. Commercial fishing will suffer an immediate slowdown for the foreseeable future, thus depriving the local economies of needed jobs & sales. School districts who shut down for longer than the normal spring break will have substitute teachers, who work for no benefits during their seasonal employment, scrambling for additional work elsewhere in order to pay their bills. Even with the lower oil prices that help determine the amount of tax revenue for state government, the jobs associated with the oil industry & their contractors will be faced with a “leaner workforce” that will also produce less consumer purchasing. Those cities who rely upon sales taxes to support their infrastructure & services would see a decline in revenue. For those individuals, working poor, & large families who would normally depend on a job or two & a PFD check to help pay their utility bills, family clothing, or property taxes, their descent below the poverty line would be accelerated & exacerbated. Yet, federal, state, & local government employees would remain relatively unaffected during this time, as those employee & income categories would generally not be as reliant upon a PFD anyway, compared to most in the private sector.

    “When the wicked increase, transgressions increase.” (Proverbs 29:25).

    No, Ms. Downing, now is not the time to curtail the PFD program. We are blessed to have the PFD program for ALL ALASKANS, not for government spending to help special interests. Now is the time to payback the last 4 years of capped PFDs, beginning with the passage Gov. Dunleavy’s bill to restore the missing $1300 for each eligible Alaskan from 2019. That would be the best temporary economic stimulus for ALL ALASKANS during this health care & economic crisis.

    “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice.” (Proverbs 29:2).

  • Once its gone for any reason, it will be gone for every reason. Cheers –

  • People can’t go to work because there children have to stay home from school so their parents can’t get a paycheck ,that is where the
    PDF IS NEEDED THE MOST RIGHT NOW TO KEEP THE GROWTH OF ALASKA GOING

    • Time for Susan Downing and ideas like hers, to go away.
      More proof government has a different agenda than that of the people!

    • Is it raining yet?

    • Give the citizens their PFD back in full you lousy government thieves! You should all be arrested for your theft!

  • I agree with the idea of a zeroed out PFD this year and I think that the PFD has probably seen its last days. I enjoyed my PFD in the past even when it was in the $300.00 range. My family and I used our PFDs for a variety of things and or services in the past. However, I am strongly opposed to the State of Alaska enacting a statewide income tax just to enable a large, moderate or even a small PFD. That is pure income redistribution at its best. We all know that about 1/2 of the U.S.working age population does not pay a federal income tax, so those same Alaskans who pay no federal income tax will not add to our state coffers to be able to hand out a full or partial PFD.

    • I’m thinking if 100% of the pfd is sucked up by Government it will want more & try for an income tax anyway. Oddly, as long as we have the pfd and a % of revenue directly to the people they (the people) have something to loose, and they express that. I think that has a suppressing effect on the growth of government. Not always successful but at least it’s something. If it results in more conservative legislators it will be more successful.

  • Interesting article and it most definitely is playing devils advocate. I find it interesting that during public testimony on SB 300 and SB306 in the Senate finance committee this week, 95 % of all callers from all over the state said “LEAVE THE PFD ALONE!” Most also said to put it up to a public vote if there were to be any changes to the formula.
    I sat through the full hour of testimony and it was an eye opener as to how in-synch people were from Kodiak to Barrow and all points in between. I concur with them!!

    • It was put to a public vote twice already, both times we told the state to keep their mitts off the PFD. Instead they started taking dividend money anyway.

  • If you don’t want your dividend donate to the state and you will feel noble. The rest of us will keep ours and decide for ourselves where the money is spent.

  • I appreciate the Suzanne Downing article. The core essence that I get out of it, is that we should be fiscally responsible and have a balanced budget. And also, we should not continue driving in a straight line, with full throttle, when the road starts to curve. It may be thrilling to go sailing off the cliff, but it ends badly.
    .
    Unfortunately, I have collected zero PFDs for the past 5 years. I have received the paper PFD checks in the mail, but for the past 5 years, I’ve sent them back to the state, because I don’t feel comfortable keeping the checks when the state is straining under giant deficits. But I keep applying for the PFD, because I keep hoping that “maybe this year, the budget will be balanced”.
    .
    NANA, the Alaska native corporation, sends out yearly dividends to its 14,000 shareholders. In 2015, the annual dividend was about $900. But in 2016, they did not pay out a dividend at all, due to economic troubles. They were able to resume paying dividends in 2017. The viability, survival and credit rating of a company, is more important than giving out a fixed dividend amount. Responsible shareholders understand that.

    • Randy Griffin, you keep sending your PFD back to the government, but don’t call us who do not want to be irresponsible share holders. How arrogant can someone get?

  • I am a 70 yr old, 45 year Alaskan who resides in the poverty lane. I see the pfd theft as class warfare. Those who can financially absorb its loss are all for letting government take it. And trust the government to budget it wisely. And all those in a position of power to effect the theft are in this class.
    I am in the poverty class that the pfd loss would be catastrophic. And all those also in this class are not in a position of power to stop the theft.
    So, as usual, the poverty class is ignored because we have no power, so no voice.
    The public testimony in the legislature is a joke because the legislators really do not care about the voices testifying to the hardship the pfd loss would incur. NONE of them live live in the poverty lane. “Let them eat cake” as the elite out of touch Marie Antoinette suggested. We have an elite out of touch legislature who only hears the voices of special interests and those in a position of power and cares nothing for the thousands of Alaskans struggling to keep their nose above water.
    Class warfare, the haves telling the have nots that they do not care about any hardship incurred by the pfd loss.
    My 2 cents.

    • You need to study that a “Constitutional Republic” really stands for Individual Rights and Liberties and was created in 1787. If we had that form of government today, we would not be having these arguments because “We The People” would already have all the Land with All the Resources Wealth to live on instead of government stealing everything. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • There is is. Alaska, America has a cast system. Those who have, have the power to keep it. Those who don’t have, don’t have the power to get it.
      The PFD was a noble attempt to level Alaska’s playing field, to mitigate the worst effects of our cast system.
      Suddenly there’s a new player in the game. COVID19. It’s beginning to threaten the high casts income, and they can’t do anything effectual to stop it. Soon there will be new members of the low casts. Welcome I say. Happy to have you aboard.

  • Mr. Babcock, in a comment well up the page, notes that elimination of the dividend puts government in position to spend all PF earnings. I agree with that concern and also with the notion that the size and scope of government must be reduced. That said, things go haywire when those insisting on constitutionalizing the dividend show up. Some of those folks invoke Hammond, Hickel and the royalty notion. No one has explained to me the difference between a royalty and an entitlement. Here is my offer: place a requirement to pay twenty-five percent of PF earnings as a dividend and concede the balance to legislative appropriation. The continuing debate over the dividend is killing us.

  • Any discussion of zeroing the PFD should be had only after the state government has been moved to the Anchorage area.

    It’s clear that “We, the People” have taken the back seat to the Special Interests and unions with their high priced lobbyists in Juneau.

    We need the Legislature here, ideally in the Sullivan arena, so We, the People can sit in the stands and observe. When someone tries to pull a fast one we all stand up and douse them with water balloons.

    When government is truly accountable to We, the People, it will be smaller, more efficient, and sessions will last 90 days. And it won’t cost nearly as much, which is a step in the direction we’re discussing.

  • The door to using the PFD for state government should never have been opened. Elected leaders from Democrats to Republicans have been slobbering all over themselves to get their fingers on that money. The oil companies would love for the public to pay for the losses the state is experiencing right now. They are trying to pay as little as possible for our oil. That’s their job, the job of our representatives is to watch out for Alaskans’ interests, which they have done a failing job at doing.
    Keep your fingers off our PFD.

  • “All animals experience fear—human beings, perhaps, most of all. The people who have the effrontery to rule us, who call themselves our government, understand this basic fact of human nature. They exploit it, and they cultivate it. Whether they compose a warfare state or a welfare state, they depend on it to secure popular submission, compliance with official dictates, and, on some occasions, affirmative cooperation with the state’s enterprises and adventures.”- Robert E. Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan

  • Now more than ever a full PFD!
    How many other Stares have a PFD to rob?
    None!
    So what do they do?
    Manage themselves!

  • Dear Fred Flintstone, Save me a seat! Best-said yet!!

  • Suzanne, you write very informative articles about subjects that most of the People would never know anything about if they did not hear about them from you. This is the very best Forum to say what needs to be said and you do a wonderful job at it and the People do a very good job of responding. Keep up the Excellent work. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • The reason that the PFD and dividend was in the first place was because the legislature spent the first 900 million that it got form the early lease sale. The system was set up so the residents would get some of the oil revenues directly and the legislature could not piss it all away. Nothing has changed. The issue is the same today as it was then. The legislature can not and does not want to control its spending. This isn’t a one time situation as the price of oil stays lower than we have been accustomed to this budget issue will happen again. I have been told that we can’t cut our way out of this. If we spent our way into it we can cut our way out. It will be messy but needs to done so that future budgets reflect our income.

  • Another thought. All govt. workers who won’t be working will still get paid. Teachers, etc. Not so private sector employees. Any of them not working will not get a pay check. Oh, there might eventually be a federal bail out, but that won’t help today! This is certainly the time to pay out a full dividend and make last year’s dividend full as well!

  • The ‘Meds’ thing and the ‘Low IQ’ thing is old and tiresome.
    Please return to logic and discourse.

  • I. AM. SHOCKED! Or maybe it’s just taken aback. Ms. right-wing talks sense? Where am I? Certainly not here. Did Fat Chance Art approve? Will Big Mike pull ads? Will the sophomoric weasel hack P.J. ever talk to you again from his cold distant uninhabited planet? Will this essay cure Medred’s endless priapism over commercial fishers? Lordy.

  • If one is convinced Alaska government is a cute and cuddly pooh bear who must be saved, nurtured, and grown at all costs, one should not stop with feeding it our PFD’s.
    .
    Why not force productive Alaskans to pay an income tax, sales tax, and some sort of education-industry excise tax while, of course, preserving exemptions for non-profits, Native corporations, bums, welfare queens, and lobbyists, and rewarding public-sector union-management teams with pay raises so they’re not out-of-pocket?
    .
    In these end days of planetary pandemic, it is clearly the duty of productive Alaskans to care first for their government, and second to subsidize any corporation, or person, whose contracts and subsidies depend on a healthy, growing government.
    .
    Productive Alaskans must be forced to pay for basic services such as fire, police, infanticide, PFD sequestration, a nationally recognized education industry, librarians’ sex-change operations, automatically self-destructing roads, the Great Alaska LeDoux Vote Experiment, gas pipelines for communist China, revenue-sharing with cities and boroughs whose multi-billion dollar rainy-day accounts have to be kept out of public sight, keeping the $650M Alaska Municipal League afloat, figuring out how to spend money pouring out of the Denali Commission pipeline… stuff like that.
    .
    It is counterrevolutionary for masses to question “basic services”! The peoples’ government at each level will decide what constitutes “basic services”. The peoples’ public-sector union-management teams will decide what the masses will pay for “basic services”. The masses will pay that amount.
    .
    Forget giving up PFD’s in exchange for unrestricted “mineral rights”. Dimwits who don’t know the difference between free money and passive income will be utterly clueless about “mineral rights” too, and could be easily misled without a caring lobbyist-legislator team to guide them.
    .
    So, instead of changing minds, should we not be of one mind, pulling together to save our tottering state government from extinction?
    .
    This is no time for selfishness. Workers should show their revolutionary solidarity by giving present and future PFD’s to the peoples’ government. Remember Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need…”.
    .
    How could we do less?

    • Morrigan: You have a good back-hand on the clay.

  • Thanks for starting the discussion Suzanne. My business and my partner’s other businesses just laid off hundreds of lower income workers indefinitely and we do not have the reserves to keep them on the payroll like the big corporations and government workers. So, I support a large one time dividend this year. Ideally it would be for those who are no longer getting a paycheck as a result of the pandemic, but I have no idea how we would figure that out. The economy needs a stimulus now more than ever. As I have said many times, government will spend every dime it gets, justify it, and ask for more. Time to stop feeding the beast. Cut spending back to 2004 levels over a three year period. It can be done if the will is there and we will be better for it.

    • Mayor Dan, paying a PFD only to those who are not getting a paycheck defeats one of the main purposes of the PFD. That being…everyone (defined Alaska residents) gets it. Once you attach a means test to the PFD you are creating a whole new beast.

      If the government wants to specifically send cash assistance to people based on need that is possible, but its not a PFD.

  • NOW is the time to dispatch a FULL PFD, including a retroactive dividend from the Walker years, in order to infuse economic stimulus to qualified Alaska residents. COVID19 requires this action NOW in order to put cash into our economy. Issue the checks NOW, Governor Dunleavy. You will be a hero.

  • The PFD issues we have today began when Walker took office. I did not vote for him and encouraged all my friends to do the same; I had done a bit of research and concluded he was a tax and spend guy. Well, he took office and his first budget was based on 80/barrel for oil; even though at the time, it was hovering near 65 to 70 and projections suggested it would go lower. That year and into the next it went all the way down to the 20/barrel range. But, our blood thirsty, bottom feeding legislators continued to spend at 80/barrel. At that time, they could have curbed their spending, but, they did not. Over the time he was our governor, our state workforce grew as well. But we should not lay the blame of our current fiscal crisis or the wows of the PFD at their feet. These are dedicated men and women working hard to provide us vital services we need each and every day. The problem is that we have too many. But, halting state new hiring’s, through attrition the numbers will fall and eventually be more in line with the workload. Many people are quick on the draw to lay our fiscal problems on the unions. No again. Unions, like any private entity are simply getting everything they can for their members. It’s the legislators who cannot say no. I encourage all Alaskans to make wise choices this fall when many are up for reelection. Get rid of the RINOs and the self-centered democrats we have. And, I also suggest, that since these blood thirty, bottom feeding, jackals put their money where their mouth is and not apply for a PFD; I would be interested to know of those legislators that advocate for doing away with the PFD, applied for it. And, now, after so many years of overspending, our legislators are actually considering an income tax; and it all stems from the fact that they had a chance to curb their spending, adjust their budgets and spend more in-line with the monies they had! I would suggest tar and feathering these idiots but we simply can afford the cost of the tar and feathers.

  • Suzanne, you wasted a good April Fool’s Day column by posting today. Think about it – if you hand over the entire PFD to the politicians, what motive do they have to “restructure”? But if you do the restructuring first, you don’t have to discuss a “zero PFD”, as the amount will already be settled law. That is, assuming settled law will be followed.
    As for all the hard hit businesses, the airlines and others already are lining up and calling their industry lobbyists. What about the workers who got sent home or laid off? No PFD? Because they don’t really need the money or because they just aren’t visible enough?

  • The solution is not complicated. Keep cutting state government until the cost of state government matches incoming revenues. The PFD is operating under a statute and if you don’t like that then get the legislature to change the statute. Until then, send out the PFDs to get the money into the hands of Alaska’s citizens and out of the hands of the Alaska legislature. Come election day, vote all of the “representatives” in the state House and Senate, both Democrat and Republican…..Out of office. We need to quit funding the Legislature in Juneau, bring the legislature to Anchorage and turn the decision making back to “citizen legislators”.

  • Just so everyone is more informed about how our government handled the states money in 2019:
    This comes from Sen. Bill Wielechowski and what it appears to say should concern us all.

    The legislature is constitutionally required to audit State departments every year. The 2019 audit was just released. It reveals stunning mismanagement and waste and a record number of material deficiencies and noncompliance. Here are a few statements from the State Auditor:

    “We are unable to obtain appropriate audit evidence to provide assurances over tax revenues because Department of Revenue management denied auditors sufficient access to Department of Revenue oil and gas production tax-related settlement/appeal files.”

    “We were unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence due to the Department of Revenue Commissioner’s refusal to provide written representations over the financial statement preparation and fair presentation of the tax revenue accounts and written representations for the completeness of the information provided to auditors.”

    The State Comprehensive Annual Financial Report draft (CAFR) “was materially misstated”, and included a “revenue classification misstatement of $1.1 billion…and a $548 million understatement of [an] account.”

    “$69.2 million of FERC-related revenues which should have been deposited into the Constitutional Budget Reserve [CBR] were instead offset to [oil] tax credits”

    After finding misuse of oil tax credits, the Auditors requested more information, but were “denied by the Department of Revenue management.”

    The Dept. of Revenue did not timely transfer oil tax revenue to the CBR, causing millions in lost revenue.

    A random sampling of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF] cases found 27% contained errors.

    The Division of Health Care Services created a “golden ticket” program where they “intentionally disregarded State and federal regulations and overrode internal controls designed to prevent unallowable costs, unallowable activities, and fraud”

    “The audit identified one 19-year old recipient who received 26 [dental] crowns during one visit without prior authorization… and a three year old recipient received 14 stainless steel crowns for primary teeth in one visit”

    “The audit also found a dental provider delivering permanent porcelain/ceramic crowns at a frequency significantly above other providers. This provider accounted for $778,000, or 24% of the $3.2 million expended during FY 19 for the procedure.”

    Four medical claims were overpaid $1,845,721. One recipient had 830 medical claims that were overprocessed, totaling $680,704.

    275 Medicaid and 40 CHIP recipient files were randomly selected from a universe of 77,825 recipients. 17% of the files could not be located by the Department; 15% had income incorrectly counted; 13% lacked sufficient documentation to support the verification of financial eligibility

    The Department of Natural Resources did not transfer $199 million of funds that were required to be transferred to the Permanent Fund.

    • That Evelyn…that’s disturbing

  • If what Evelyn said is true, what is going to be done about it?? This is all a Felony!!! People need to be prosecuted!!!!! Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • Move Alaska’s Capital to Anchorage. After reading the legislature’s audit report, we finally get the point.

    Once again, we need to get the Capital move on the ballot. This time the vote to move will succeed.

    Beware, there are legislators of every political affiliation who will not want the capital moved to Anchorage.

    There are a few legislators who DO want the capital moved, and I will vote only for them.

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