(The Center Square) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy included another Permanent fund dividend (PFD) payment of $1,250 to Alaska residents in its supplementary budget.
Payments would be made in the spring. Residents would see an additional $2,500 if the Legislature approves the plan.
The PFD was to have $65 billion, the governor said.
“Today, due to incredible returns, we have nearly $82 billion in the permanent fund dividend,” Dunleavy said Thursday at a press conference. “Given the inflationary picture we’re going through right now, I think we’re really going to be asking the legislature to give that consideration as soon as possible.”
The state will have about $1.6 billion in combined surplus between fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023, he said. Dunleavy said his plan included funds for basic services.
“We are increasing support for public safety, fully funding education, providing select local governments with 100% of school bond debt repayment, building momentum behind the GO Bond proposal and committing to a PFD 50/50 that Alaskans expect and deserve,” Dunleavy mentioned.
Both sides questioned Dunleavy’s spending plan, which includes $375.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act discretionary funds for income replacement. An additional amount of $37.4 million is reserved for operating investments and $72 million is allocated to capital projects.
“I think we need to look beyond fiscal year 2023,” Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said last month during a Meet of the Senate Finance Committee. “We are lucky today to have higher oil prices, and we may not be so lucky in six months, a year or two years from now.”
Stedman asked if some of the money could be saved and said it was possible “we could take our state to big taxes and huge deficits.”
Much of Alaska’s revenue depends on oil prices. And while they may be high now, that may not be the case in the future, lawmakers said.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich said basing a budget on the stock market and oil price volatility “is not a sustainable plan for our next generation.”
Dunleavy said the numbers were good.
“We hope these numbers, which are real numbers — there’s no play money here — that these real numbers can paint a picture of what is and what we can do,” Dunleavy said. “As to whether the Legislative Assembly will agree to everything we have proposed, it is doubtful. But we hope there will be a number of issues that we can resolve to help Alaskans.”