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‘Won’t back down’ Dunleavy has dividend revival in valley

Gov. Michael Dunleavy entered the rally this evening in Wasilla to the iconic Tom Petty song blasting out from speakers, “I won’t Back Down.”

“You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.”

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About 300 residents from around Southcentral Alaska loved it, and cheered him into the room like a rock star. They came from as far away as Kenai to support him and his effort to protect their Permanent Fund dividends.

The song and the crowd made a statement: For them, the Permanent Fund dividend should be paid according to the statutory formula, and that is a non-negotiable item.

“And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down … Gonna stand my ground.”

Earlier in the day in Juneau, senators opposing the $3,000 dividend tried to force the Senate to revote on the PFD bill in front of them, but Sen. Shelley Hughes of the Mat-Su put a “call on the Senate,” and with members not showing up, the body eventually adjourned. It was parliamentary politics at play, as the Senate is split on whether the dividend should be the full $3,000 or should be the $1,600 that some lawmakers feel is “palatable enough” to the public.

In Wasilla, where the next special session will be held, any reduction from the statutory amount was not a palatable with the crowd at Everett’s, the lakeside venue where Dunleavy held his Restore the PFD rally.

“Well I know what’s right. I got just one life. In a world that keeps on pushin’ me ’round. But I’ll stand my ground.”

Many of Dunleavy’s remarks were similar to his campaign promises when he ran for governor, and indeed, it was his stance on the dividend that won him overwhelming support in November. This was a theme he was well-versed in, something he has talked about hundreds of times before, and at different town hall meetings across the state. And this was a crowd that clearly loves him.

Dunleavy urged those in attendance to not only call and write to those legislators who support the full dividend, and thank them, but to be sure to contact those who do not support the current statutory formula.

“The PFD is the canary in the mine,” he said. Once lawmakers start fooling around with the formula, which is set in statute, then it is only a matter of time. Later he told reporters that if the statute needs to be changed, then the Legislature should change it. But for now, he said, “Follow the Law.”

And he also reminded them, albeit he was preaching to the choir, that if the dividend is not paid in full, Alaskans will likely start a ballot initiative to take it to the vote of the people.

“Our framers (of the constitution) said you are the vanguard to keep in check rogue legislators,” Dunleavy said. “If you aren’t involved at the front end of this, you will be involved at the end.”

Several times during his remarks the crowd burst out in spontaneous cheering. There were no counter-protesters and security was light.

“Let’s work on this thing together,” Dunleavy said.

It appears that the governor has every intention of calling the Legislature into session in Wasilla, and if nothing else, the footage from tonight was staged to give the Legislature a sense of the enthusiasm of the people in the Valley for being part of the conversation.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


    • No, the legislature needs to continue to retreat to a remote location where they can do the best work, mostly off limits to pesky citizens with only quality control experts (aka lobbyists) to assist in the making of laws. It is a superior arrangement that all states should replicate.

      • QUALITY CONTROL EXPERTS? LOBBYISTS? That is funny, ERAK. These are blood suckers and thieves. They control no quality whatsoever. They are over-paid advocates for…….whoever pays them. WHORES. LAZY WHORES. WHORES who do very little, other than bribe a legislator with money, favors, and gifts. Most of them are alcoholics, druggies, and…….. WHORES. There oughta be a law……against their kind of business.

    • If it’s going to be an on the roadshow it should be held in Anchorage a much more accessible place for all types of Alaskans to participate.

      Not for a full PFD, but if that’s what people want then spend it down to nothing and cut the services and see where this all goes (South)-and it probably won’t go well and your property taxes will sky rocket. Will get what is sowed and it may not be what you intended.

      • “Get what is sowed” – yes, people keep voting for the same duopolistic politicians that have created the many, many issues the state has.
        Personally, I see the PFD as the state reimbursing me for all the state taxes I’ve paid the previous year, and yes, there are state taxes most people don’t even realize they’re paying, whether directly (check out your phone bill sometime) or indirectly (businesses do pass on state taxes to consumers). Coupled with all those licenses I have to pay to own my car, own my business, hunt, fish, etc. It’s nearly impossible to do anything without getting permission and paying a fee to the state.
        So if people’s local property taxes sky rocket or electric and phone bills go up, I only hope that those screaming the loudest check their own voting record and then actually check out the state’s website that shows every single bill every single politician has written or voted on and quit relying on just the “R” or “D” after the person’s name. I deeply hope that Alaska starts seeing more “L”s the way it used to before the state pension totally bankrupts us all.

        • S Evans…
          Well put.
          “I deeply hope that Alaska starts seeing more “L”s the way it used to before the state pension totally bankrupts us all.”
          I agree the $6 or $7 Billion dollar pension debt may very well be the weight that tips the scale out of balance in AK.
          More discussion should be brought up on this issue (like how much is planned on payment for this year?)
          Maybe if the Legislators make it up to Wasilla there could be more citizen lead discussion with questions on this matter?

  1. Erak and Cam, totally disagree.

    We will be heard, we do need to be civil but firm, damn firm!

    BTW, Loved the song by Todd Smoldon’s wife!

  2. I voted for the man but I am deeply disappointed by his Dividend Histrionics.
    Appealing to people’s avarice and delusions of self-entitlement.
    A $3000 dividend is a further raid on savings by eroding the value of the Permanent Fund at a time when we are also ignoring the constitutional requirement to re-pay the CBR and considering the even stupider idea of borrowing money to pay the $1 Billion in credits we owe the small oil companies.
    I hope the House can stand firm against this irresponsible use of the public purse.
    I say DividEND-IT! I am so sick of the Dividend BS and how it has corrupted Alaska – preventing even a basic budget to be passed year after year after year!

    • That’s more BS Ed. The 1/2 distribution is under Statute which the Legislature can ignore and has ignored lawfully.
      It has nothing to do with the Earnings Reserve under the State Constitution Amendment which created the Permanent Fund.
      And don’t start with the BS that you and Dunleavy peddle now that we are “owed” a Dividend because of lack of subsurface mineral rights. That is completely false.
      I consider ourselves very fortunate that we can remain a low-tax state due to the oil revenue. If we played our cards right we could have a healthy and growing Dividend as well but not by de-valuing the Permanent Fund and stealing from the future.
      Also, we owe $1 billion in oil tax credits and billions more to the CBR which truly is our emergency savings account. The CBR was raided in order to pay Dividends (which rightfully should have been taken from the Earnings Reserve – if at all).
      The Dividend is a Socialist concept. I am surprised you embrace that so vigorously.

      • Wrong, Chris. Cash infusion into the marketplace instills confidence in the economy. People buy things. They pay for services. Fuel oil. Property taxes. Clothing. Gas. It’s a stimulus for the private sector and there’s no other way to look at it. Otherwise, we get more government, more regulations, and more economic despair and unhappiness. Go take basic Economics. Read it and learn it!

        • funny how people survived with a reduced PFD. So the state handing people money to go buy crap they could do without is sound economics. Maybe you an explain this quote by Donna Arduin. It has bothered me since I read it.
          “Summed up, that goal is straightforward: Have predictability for dividends and those who rely on state money every year,” she said.”
          Sounds like an entitlement to me. Funny my take on the PFD was to invest it so that I would never have to rely on the government. Maybe I should have taken more vacations or bought more toys. Who would of thought the money would never end.

  3. This is why Dunleavy is the governor in Alaska. All the other idiots and turncoats in the legislature……EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT!

  4. I think getting the Legislators out of Juneau and up in the Valley for a Session is a good move by the Governor…
    At one time Willow was chosen as a new site for the state Capitol since it makes sense to have government more accessible and therefore more accountable to the majority of residents in Alaska.
    I am reminded of another classic rock tune that comes to mind:
    “Got a man of the people
    Says keep hope alive
    Got fuel to burn
    Got roads to drive…
    Keep on rockin’ in the free world”
    By Neil Young

  5. Gov Dunleavy thank you for standing with us on a full (pfd) great response from all people at the Rally at Everett’s, all of Alaska stands behind you as i said when we spoke at Rally we have bad people in Juneau if having a special session is called bring it to Wasilla we the people will be there a full (pfd) they know how to spend lining there own pockets or an ( Endowment) to protect the fund from this ever happening again net Investment returns would greatly pay Dividends for Alaskans and our Grandchildren those Legislators in Juneau are using the pfd as hostage over we the people, they don’t want to govern we will just raid pfd not good bad (DUDE)

  6. Our government is greedy. They will always try to take away the pfd . Maybe it time to do a one time payout and end all this craziness. People like Rep. Tammie Wilson who have double standards need to be removed from our government . God bless our state and the people who live here and our fearless governor Mr. Mike Dunleavy.

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