Up next: Another vote on a $1,600 PFD and $330 million more spending - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Sunday, February 23, 2020
HomePoliticsUp next: Another vote on a $1,600 PFD and $330 million more spending

Up next: Another vote on a $1,600 PFD and $330 million more spending

The House of Representatives will consider a bill on the House floor on Tuesday that would add back roughly $330 million in spending, and give Alaskans $1,600 in Permanent Fund dividends this year, less than half of what the statutory formula would give them.

[See the full text of HB 2001 here]

The bill only allows $91 million of Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s Undesignated General Fund vetoes to stand.

The numbers don’t quite add up to the $444 million that was cut by Dunleavy as there are differences between what is designated and undesignated funds. The House Finance Committee members had a number of questions about how the numbers were arrived at, and members expressed confusion.

The added-back spending includes $110 million for the University System, carving away at the $135 million in cuts the system had been given. Also being funded would be other programs cut by Dunleavy — public broadcasting, the State Council on the Arts, Alaska Legal Services Corporation, and a host of others.

The bill also brings back education forward-funding for fiscal year 2021, something that Dunleavy has said is illegal. The leadership of the House and Senate have filed a lawsuit to settle that question, but in the meantime, House Finance wants to make another run at forward funding.

[See the list of items this legislation is attempting to fund via appropriation, rather than a veto override vote]

This is part veto-override legislation and part PFD legislation, rolled into one, with a complicated funding mechanism that will be subject to much debate on the House floor.

The bill only needs 21 votes to pass, and the House majority currently has 23 members, nearly ensuring that the bill will go to the Senate in some form.

Among the items not added back to the budget are the school bond debt reimbursement, and travel for the executive branch, much of it in the Department of Transportation.

[See the list of accepted veto items the House Majority is not attempting to override here.]

House Finance co-chairs have come up with an unusual way of paying for dividends. They want to reverse a veto of $1 billion deposit from the Earnings Reserve Account to the General Fund. Then appropriate $147 million from the Statutory Budget Reserve to the Dividend Fund, and $898.3 million from the General Fund to the Dividend Fund and then restore the full $9.4 billion transfer from the Earnings Reserve Account to the corpus of the Permanent Fund.

[Read the funding mechanism here]

Donations Welcome

Share

Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Bryce!!!!!! You’re not listening. We said a full PFD, not half!

    • So you are willing to destroy the lives of thousands and crash the economy for an extra $1,400?
      .
      Why do you think so many conservative business groups oppose the cuts? Did they suddenly become libtards in their sleep?

      • Adam, by taking $10,000 away from an average family every year, what do you think that will do? In the bush, you are taking it away as revenue for our pilots, stores, children’s clothing, food etc. It’s harming people. Some rely on it.

        • Greg, so you prefer to get 3000$, on which you are going to pay Federal taxes, and then have the price of electricity in the push quadrupled as the winter is coming and other bush services cut. Rather than having 1400$, with proportionally less Federal taxes, and have some support for cheaper electricity in the bush as well as other services ? I’m not sure the 1500$ extra is going to cover the electricity cost increase. Just saying.

      • Adam, by the thousands, are you referring to the 8% of UAA students that actually graduate from a 4 year program? Or was it the 60% of state money that goes towards admin costs? Kind of top heavy wouldn’t you say? They lost their accreditation on their teacher ed program. Alaska isn’t getting what it paid for. Many are getting a job from them with nothing to show for it. Big mistake with stolen Alaskan’s money. Education should be held accountable instead of throwing money and hoping for the best.

        • Greg, if you are looking at the pie chart, you will see that 50% goest to Admin AND Services, this not only fund administration, but also all the services like building maintenance, electricity, heating. In the administration part, there is also a portion for professor of assistant professor for them to be paid when they are writing grant. Federal rules does not allow to write grant on Federal money. Hence, those fund are used to support the University, they are not a waste as you like to see them.

        • Greg.
          .
          There are so points where we agree. Of course administrators are overpaid but this budget doesn’t demand that the cuts be taken from admins. They are talking about eliminating entire departments. This attacks programs on the ground.
          .
          You are imaging a scalpel, this is a blunt machete.
          .
          This budget takes from those in the bush. Expect electricity rates to triple in areas that depend on diesel.
          .
          Eliminating rural campuses does the same.
          .
          Clearly that one program had problems. Other programs are the best in the world. These cuts threaten the good and the bad.
          .
          That 8 percent is cherry-picked spin doctor number that you can only get by including rural campuses with non traditional students who can complete in 4 years. If you work your way through college it takes more than 4 years.

      • Losing your income does nor DESTROY lives. It forces changes. Many private sector workers lose their income every year.
        There is too much govt money and too many govt. employees in this state. Especially at the University. I fully support Dunleavys cuts and the 3000 dividend can help those laid off to leave the state!

        • Please. May karma deliver to you what you wish upon others.

        • If losing income doesn’t destroy lives then why are you worried about the pfd being paid out at $3,000 and ruining thousands of Alaskans lives? Double speak. We have already had our lives ruined by the legislator and previous governor. Let those who enjoyed life then eat crow now for a bit.

        • MQ, I love when we agree. Let’s get rid of the PFD. This will not DESTROY your life. It’s just losing some extra-income.

          Forcing an increase of electricity cost, removing access to education, lowering healthcare standard system, not taking care of your elderly, those are going to destroy a couple of life in the future.

  • The responsible path forward is to reduce this wasteful spending on this bloated Government. Most reasonable Alaskans know this and it’s really just simple math.
    Git-R-Done!

    • Most reasonable Alaskans know how to spell too!

      • That’s not entirely correct.

    • Yes, let’s get rid of this bloated Government. Let’s remove all tax credits, let’s not forgot to cut all position but two in the Governor office, as supported by the constitution and suppress the PFD, which is not guarantee by the constitution.

  • This is a fiscally conservative compromise that will keep keep us from sliding into another recession.
    .
    If you haven’t read the “too much, too soon” article on the Anchorage Daily News you should.

  • Even England manned up and canned libertard Teresa May for a conservative leader Boris Johnson today.
    Hopefully our four missing Republicans get to Juneau and vote NO on the mostly reverse sweep of vetos and the theft of the PFD.

  • Only the full PFD before passing the reversed Budget bill and guaranteed the PFD fund will be put back in the UDF.

  • I assume this bill is subject to Gov. line item veto?

    • You betcha!

  • Anyone have a link or source to read to help understand what each of these funds is & what they are for? It is confusing.

    Whatever came of the Governor’s bills to require changes to taxation & PFD formula be put to a vote of the people?

    There is just no end to government spending if legislators have funds to spend…it will be spent. Many of the things are good things…its just that there is no end to them.

    I’m coming to believe the best people to decide where & how to spend money are the people themselves…given the choice…and one thing the PFD does is exactly that. A direct investment in all the people of Alaska that is not income qualified or taxpayer funded. Thats a good cause right there.

  • So, just to understand the Legislature needed 3/4 of a majority to “over-ride” the Governor’s Vetoes, but they can “re-write” a bill to over-ride the Vetoes with just 21 Votes needed in the House? Seems like we are stuck on the “spin-cycle” these days in Alaskan Politics…

    • It’s the process you are whining about here, Steve?
      It will get done (that sausage making) and not everyone will like the end result. Even that “spin-cycle” will end IMO.

      • Bill,
        Calling it a “Process” would validate the actions at hand…
        I will admit that at first I thought the 40 percent hit to the U of A system was a bit harsh, but after I have been made aware of the salaries that members of the “Ivory Tower” enjoy here in Alaska…It seems that 40 percent is appropriate.
        Do you feel that the president of U of A is worth $420,000 a year when he cannot even maintain accreditation in core degrees?
        Honestly, when you look at how many people are making over $250,000 a year in administration positions at the university you would never think that they have a graduation rate at less than 50 percent.
        Shoveling millions more back on top of a redundant administration that is not producing desirable results would be a huge waste of limited state funds at this time.
        The legislators who are pushing this rewrite of vetoes should have showed up at the Wasilla location (in the first place) and addressed their concerns as line item overrides instead of sending protestors and attempting to create a disturbance.

        • It’s fairly apparent that you are upset with the process that doesn’t give you want you want, but that’s hardly the goal of any process. It will be validated on its own and the Wasilla location was strictly for the amateurs that showed up there.
          The only way to properly address university salaries is by comparing them to other similar universities. Arbitrarily determining what is a proper salary is BS and you know it. This governor doesn’t have a clue about anything he has done IMO and he was elected simply for promising money for votes. Those chickens will come home to roost and we have us a divided Alaska but tough noogies, I say. Heheh!
          Not sure if you noticed but even the minority leader voted for this Capital Budget yesterday-how long do you think the rest of those amateurs will hold out? Once those absentees are in Juneau it will pass and those hold-outs will all change their votes so’s not to be shown voting against it.
          Hard to say how the rewrites go but the process is in the open on Gavel Alaska with everything on the record. And it almost sounded like you feel the legislature sent protestors and wanted a disturbance-loosen that tinfoil a bit.

          • Bill,
            Next time you are looking for “Bolsheviks” in Alaska, go no further than the U of A administration office.
            I think it is disingenuous to have ADN write stories of student’s loosing scholarships when the president is making close to half a Million dollars a year.
            I can see why these over priced “Ivory Tower” inhabitants cried so loudly as the Governor announced his cuts.
            They are also the group who is against an income tax while over 33 percent of the state lives in poverty.
            The same 33 percent who are losing Medicaid and social services would also be the group who would benefit the most from a full PFD.
            This is corporate socialism of the 21st century and everyone in the audience knows it.
            This is not about me not getting what I want, it is about grossly rewarding a president (and fellow administrators) for failing accreditation and a poor graduation rate (less than 50 percent).
            As for the protestors sent to Wasilla, it was proven that several had worked as aides for Democratic members of the Legislature.
            I guess we know what side you are one…Bolshevism.

          • Well Steve, at one point you are upset with salaries of asst. profs. and now you complain about administrators making huge salaries-which it it? I suspect that these salaries are all relatively comparable and thus can be supported. Of course, in the case of administrators, it can always be argued that UA system has too many of these administrators but that’s not your argument.
            I suspect that many of these administrators could be removed without skipping a beat as these “ivory tower” folks were able to get more than their share of the flowing oil dollars, but that is just my opinion here. This loss of money to UA will no doubt result in the looking at this, along with other areas I’m out of the loop on.
            As for a few having worked as aids means nothing, other than they may have a similar philosophy as some Democrats but your suggesting Legislature sent protestors is plain bogus-remember here that a bunch of Republicans are included in this Juneau bunch and I suspect they would have exposed such a stunt. And I’ve never been on the hunt for Bolsheviks in Alaska-you have be confused with Mongo. Heheh!

    • And he’ll veto and then there will be another vote to override.
      .
      Strange that people are so upset isn’t it? The governor has ordered that the legislators blow up the economy and throw it into a burning dumpster. I don’t understand the hesitation. We should do what our leaders tell us. Follow the law! Even if it leads over a cliff!
      .
      Obedience is democracy. Freedom is slavery. 25 percent is a majority. Ignorance is strength.

      • You seem to be saying, and please correct me if I am wrong, that the more we spend the stronger the economy will become. That might be true for at most a few years, but then, kinda like now, we run out of money to spend. Contrary to the mythology that circulated when Uncle Ted was around, government spending creates a weaker, less diverse economy. A strong, dynamic, resilient economy is to be found in private sector activity. Aligning our spending with our revenues is quite rational. I do not agree with how the Governor has allocated his proposed budget reductions but the overall notion of matching spending to revenues is sound. And the size of a PFD is a whole different discussion.

        • As we all live in a Care Bear world, dreaming of Governor Dunleavy slashing vetoes, after vetoes, let’s not forget Hell may blast on us if Governor Dunleavy get recalled in between two vetos

        • Yes indeed, it’s exactly why most of the people says about the Tax Credit. The less we tax oil company, the more money they brought to Alaska. We both now how true this is: Alaska is high dependent on the oil market, because Alaska give big tax credit to oil company.

          This is exactly what you said: “The more we spend the stronger the economy will become.: That might be true for at most a few years, but then, kinda like now, we run out of money to spend. Contrary to the mythology that circulated when Uncle Ted was around, government spending creates a weaker, less diverse economy”. And we know now how wrong this is.

          A strong, dynamic, resilient economy is to be found in an economy intelligently supported by the state to diversify the revenue, think Agriculture, Fishery, Education…

        • Thanks for the cordial reply.
          .
          Yes, I’m saying that not all cuts are good. I’m saying that study after study show us that education pays for itself. There is a reason that google sprung up in the bay area and not, say, Uzbekistan.
          .
          And yes, I am indeed saying that some sorts of investments return more money than you put into them. Education is one such investment.
          .
          If you will read it I’ll send a study that backs up my assertions.

          • I agree that a vibrant university can create “clustering” of smart people. Most of the time, it is to found in STEM disciplines. Problem is that outside of a few STEM fields, the UA isn’t much to boast about. Both of my kids are smart, went to school in America and have put Alaska in the rear-view mirror. I cannot blame them.

          • @JMARK When you are saying that the UA isn’t much to baost about the STEM fields, are you forgetting the leadership played in the Arctic Science by UAF, are you forgetting about the geology department forming engineer to work in the Gold mine (Fort Knox, Pogo) or in oil extraction , are you forgetting about the department of Engineering working to solve problem of warming climate, expensive electricity in bush area, and so on … The list is very long

        • Second, I would ask you take a look at Norway. Similar geography, similar sorts of challenges but it has a thriving economy.

        • Okay! I get what you are all saying! But I’m a born and raised Alaskan 56 years and counting . I think the pfd is great! Don’t get me wrong it’s helped my family out of some tight spots. My parents didn’t have the pfd to help them out when we were being raised. We did just fine! My father was in local politics and I remember him complaining back before pfd that our state government thought Alaska had endless Mony trees! They still do! That will never change!

          I’ve always wanted to live out in the boonies and could never do that for different reasons or another, one and the biggest reason was I thought it would be very spendy if I wanted to have all the amenities that I would have if I was living in town.

          Times change and not trying to sound cold toward anyone that lives in the bush but those people should probably not live where it takes more money to live than they can afford! Maybe they should move closer to places where they have stores ,and jobs and transportation to where they need to go! I know it’s where their ancestors all lived . But go back and visit every year. I don’t live in my home town of Seward because it’s a dying town! It’s all about the tourist and then it shuts down in the winter. That’s not the way it was when I was a kid growing up there. It’s sad! But my point is the native people in the bush don’t live like their ancestors anymore! They want to live modern lives and the truth is they can’t it’s too expensive! Unless they lived just like their ancestors!

          So the pfd is a short fix to their problems. Times are changing! Our state is growing the more people the moreoney is needed and it certainly didn’t help Alaska at all when the pfds started making people from the lower 48 believe that people’s are getting paid to live here! Now we have all the idots up here waiting for their share of the pfd and living on welfare when that runs out. I hope that anyone that does that goes back where they came from and take their stupidity with them . I would rather Alaska go back to a territory and all the people that were here for the pfds can leave us Alaskans who want to be here with out the pfds alone!

          Okay so I’m sure I’ve pissed some people off, but too bad. Learn to live without the pfd or fire all of our legislators, the people that work for us! Eventually they will win! We are a corrupt state!

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you…..,.”

  • And Bryce, if you say that spending $50,000 of our PFD money per student at UAA is the way to go, with such poor results to boot, then maybe a compass check on your agenda is in order.

    • Bryce is dancing for the unions. Hardly a villager in Western Alaska that cares one iota about the unions. Villages want a cash influx to pay bills, nothing more, nothing less.

      Bryce is blinded by power and oblivious to the needs of the area and people.

      • Well Will, sure villages want a cash influx to pay bills, but they also want support of the state to need see utility cost sky rocketing. I’m sure they prefer a bit less of cash influx, with less tax to pay to the Feds, and a bit more of state support to lower utility cost.

        Will is blinded by the power of the green bills and oblivious to the needs of the people in the bush.

        An Army Vet wrote yesterday that “Granting a PFD payment by defunding the vast support infrastructure of the state is like handing someone a quart of water to cross a desert just as you close up all the wells along the route.” Well, Will you should reflect upon those words.

      • Exactly. I question his agenda.

  • Well Marc, I’m an army veteran, thirty odd years in the bush and living in a village. Years in prudhoe bay and forty years of professional hunting and fishing camps all over Alaska, I feel experienced enough to tell you your inexperience in rural affairs shines brightly.

    The hub cities get all our money. Screw giving Anchorage and Fairbanks our pfd’s to.

  • The governor needs to veto the mess they are preparing to send him.

%d bloggers like this: