Who can spend your money better: Government or you? - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Who can spend your money better: Government or you?

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The editor and publisher of this publication may recall that I once answered the lefties in the Juneau Empire’s pages with a letter written in one syllable words. Just so they could understand.

I’m going to try to make this as simple as I can.

If you’ve been actually listening to the bleating and wailing about Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s proposed budget in the regular media, unless you really understand State budgets everything you know is wrong.

What the governor and his budget director have done is submit to the Legislature a budget for State programs that can be paid for with reasonably predicted State revenue in State Fiscal Year 20.

Revenue for this purpose mean State taxes and fees. “Reasonably predicted” means that the State can reasonably assume that this is the amount of money it will receive; this has been a real issue over time, as governors have played all sorts of games with over or under-stating the predicted revenue.

Long ago we established that we would do a low-middle-high case estimate of projected State revenue and we would base the budget on the mid-case. Gov. Dunleavy has submitted a governor’s amended budget based on a mid-case projection of next year’s revenue.

Everybody with their hooves in the trough is having a fit, but this is all we can afford without reaching into the kitty, which is the Permanent Fund. If the Legislature wants more, it has to pass an appropriation bill telling the governor where the money is coming from to pay for that “more.”

There is $1.73 billion left in the Constitutional Budget Reserve and there is $16.6 billion left in the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve account.

Once we get more government than the budget the governor has proposed, we are dipping into the very expensive money in the CBR, or we are dipping into money that those of you who voted for Gov. Dunleavy think rightfully belongs to you: Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve account.

Dipping into the CBR takes a three-quarter vote and every vote costs millions; if you’re going to get Lyman Hoffman’s vote to dip into the CBR, Bethel is going to get something really, really nice. There is some pretty good money in the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account, including all the money they didn’t give you over the last three years in your Permanent Fund dividend, which was halved.

But, if you dip into the Earnings Reserve to pay for ongoing operations of government, you’re not going to get that pay-back on the PFDs they took from you.

So, folks have a choice: Tighten your belts and do without State services and get some your PFD money or let some of that money go to government operations. There is probably a balance in there somewhere.

I don’t much care about the dividend; it is “mad money” to me and I spend it at Costco or in Mexico. It matters a lot to my kids though.

If the welfare recipients in Alaska are going to have more Medicaid coverage, it is going to come out of Permanent Fund Earnings.   If Coastal Alaska is going to have existing ferry service, it is going to come out of Permanent Fund Earnings. If the Education Racket is going to have more money, it is going to come out of Permanent Fund Earnings.

[Read: First public hearing on PFD payback is Thursday]

It’s up to you; who do you think can spend the money better, them or you?

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. He also is the Must Read Alaska theater critic.

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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

  • Bravo!

  • 24%
    When you file for your PDF that is what the state of Alaska holds if you don’t give them your ss#. That 24% leaves the state of Alaska and goes to the federal government. If you give them you ss# you still have to send the feds ~24% of your check. Why would we want to send ~24% of Alaska’s discretionary resources to the feds year after year? Don’t get me wrong I love america, but I’d rather not pay for needles in New Jersey when we could be spending the money here to fight crime. They are our benjamins not DC’s.

  • Ya we’re being serviced alright. Did you ever hear of a six figure administrator possibly losing their job because the State needed mo` money? Just teachers and police. Let’s not reinforce any false dichotomies. Why would we expand a program (Medicaid) rife with fraud, abuse, and inefficiency? It should be replaced.

  • Spend better = Republicans.
    Spend MORE = Democrats.

  • Most Alaskans tax bracket is 12% or less and many are zero. Alaska is one of the first if not the first to provide a basic floor of guaranteed income. Without a rebound in oil prices, the State is going to have a continued trending down of the population. Dramatically lower state spending less population, any form of broad-based tax would reduce the population, peace breaking out in Asia, anemic oil industry, lower investment returns (reduced earning reserves).

    • All I know as a fact is the PFD site withholds 24% if u don’t provide a ss#

      24% of 2 billion is up to $480 million we will be sending to D.C.

      I think we all can agree that is poor government spending-I’d rather we spend our benjamins in Alaska on Alaskans

      • And then it all comes out in the income taxes. It is like with holding taxes at work. You are saying no one gives the PFD people their SS#.

  • Once again, thanks Art. It is pretty simple stuff. There are only so many places to draw existing funds and so many revenue sources. To get folks to understand that is another story. To answer the question though, it is I that can spend (and save) my money more efficiently (better), not the government.

    • -this is true. By the Alaska government sending checks to the people they have been wasting our money by defacto allowing our money to be taxed. Dumbest Alaska government spending I can think of
      next to repubs and dens who funded the $110 UAA sports arena, and billions and billions studying the susitna dam, yukon dam, road to cordova, road to juneau, road to ambler, train to canada, gas pipline, Mount Spurr geothermal, and so on and on-billions of Alaska’s dollars wasted by repubs with none-I mean no construction-no real gains. We are at this current fiscal place in oart because of repubs like our governor. When oil is high repubs and dems waste money at equal rate. I prefer my benjamins be spent more wisely then sending them to D.C. or pipe dream projects like the new governor wants to spend money on-like the susitna dam. We studied it twice now-and have constructed nothing.
      I think am agreement with everyone posting here that we should stop sending our money to D.C.? and stop funding pipe-dream projects that are not economically sensible like the gasline?


    The pfd is paid for out of 50% of the earnings that come from the PF to the ER every year. All the money that is in the account is money left over after past PFDs have been paid for, the other 50%. You only need to leave enough in to payback the stolen PFDs and a little slack since the payout works on a 5-year average. Please stop confusing the Investment Income we receive with that allocated for the PFD. It’s fine for the leggies to spend that income.

    • You mean shift it to DC?

      I’d rather see our benjamins spent on Alaskans by Alaskans.

      by the way-Pete Kelly, Tammie Wilson, Mike Dunleavy etc are not lefties but voted smartly to spend our money in Alaska not give it to D.C. to spend on lefties in New Jersey

    • Lance Roberts has it EXACTLY CORRECT!!!

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