Home affairs lawmakers are raising questions about the proposed $ 1,100 Permanent Fund payment for Alaskans as the dividend amount nears final legislative approval.
Here are some views that home lawmakers shared with the News-Miner on FPD and tax policy-making in a third special session.
Senator Robert Myers: “Put it in the Constitution”
Senator Robert Myers predicted that Alaskans might not receive a dividend from the Permanent Fund this year if legislation approved by the House for a payment of $ 1,100 is rejected by the governor.
“If there is another veto, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is no PFD this year,” Myers said, referring to the governor’s opposition to funding the dividend through a constitutional budgetary reserve.
A House-approved bill that uses the account to help pay the dividend awaits a Senate vote, which is expected this week. It would also require the governor’s signature.
The North Pole Republican said the state needed a long-term plan to manage the Permanent Fund’s dividend program “that goes beyond simply reducing or removing the dividend.”
Governor Mike Dunleavy proposes to fund dividend and government services equally through a 50-50 formula protected by the state constitution.
Lawmakers considered the Dunleavy Amendment, among other tax solutions, in the Third Special Session.
Myers noted that he had campaigned on a statutory dividend and still liked the idea. “However, I also realize that nothing will matter if we don’t put it in the Constitution,” he said.
Representative Bart LeBon: “I do not support the 50-50 plan”
Republican Rep. Bart LeBon of Fairbanks has expressed concern over the governor’s 50-50 plan and its impact. “I do not support the Governor’s 50-50 PFD plan because it would call for an overdraft of the permanent fund’s profit reserve account (ERA).”
Funding the plan would require an overdraft from ERA “in excess of $ 1 billion,” LeBon said.
The state should dramatically cut spending or enact a new generalized tax, such as a personal income tax, LeBon said.
“A long-term sustainable budget plan will have to reconcile state spending and the PFD program with state revenue sources to include royalties from the sale of our oil, investment income from the Permanent Fund of Alaska and state tax policies, ”LeBon said.
LeBon opposes Dunleavy’s plan to secure the PFD formula in the state constitution.
“And should a PFD formula have budgetary priority over, say, public safety, education, or the general health and welfare of Alaskans?” LeBon asked.
“I don’t think so, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t support including the PFD formula in the Alaskan Constitution,” he said.
Representative Mike Prax: “Pay for PFD according to law”
Republican Rep. Mike Prax of the North Pole does not support the House-approved $ 1,100 Permanent Fund dividend or the use of funds outside of the profit reserve account to pay it.
“By law, this year’s dividend payments should be in the range of $ 3,500 to $ 3,700 and the funds to pay the dividend should be taken from the income of the Permanent Fund to leave no doubt as to the fact. that this is a “permanent fund dividend,” Prax said.
In an email to the News-Miner, Prax wrote: “I support the payment of PFDs according to the law. AS 43.23.005 (a) explicitly states: “An individual is eligible to receive a dividend from the Permanent Fund each year in an amount to be determined according to AS 43.23.025. “
“This is not an amount that is ‘subject to allocation’. The profit reserve account balance is more than sufficient to meet this obligation,” he said.
“Therefore, the Legislature should allocate an amount from the Income Reserve Account sufficient to satisfy AS23.025 – notwithstanding the Wielechowski ruling – as this is the legal promise made to individuals in Alaska who qualify for the request for PFD this year. “
Prax referred to the Wielechowski v. Alaska, heard in the Alaska Supreme Court in 2017.
Judge Daniel Winfree wrote: “In the absence of another constitutional amendment, the Permanent Fund’s dividend program must compete for annual statutory funding, just like other state programs.
Representative Mike Cronk: “Amount is not acceptable”
Republican Representative Mike Cronk said he disagreed with the dividend amount of $ 1,100 and offered to fund it.
Cronk wrote that “the amount is not acceptable and neither is the funding source.”
“The PFD should not be paid into accounts other than the ERA. And certainly not the SBR (savings account), ”he said, referring to the constitutional budget reserve account.
Cronk said the legislature should resume session if the governor rejects the proposed PFD dividend and its source of funding. “If the governor vetoed the amount, we have to come back to the table and fund it on ERA as it is supposed to be,” he said.
“I favored a full statutory PFD from day one. I voted for. This is my first choice. I also voted for the governor’s 50-50 split of $ 2,350, ”he said.