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    Pressure mounts: Alaskans continue rallies in support of PFD payments

    By AlaskaWatchman.com

    The Alaska Legislature is expected to convene for what is likely to be a heated special session, starting Aug. 2.

    In addition to dealing with state spending limits and looking at new revenue sources, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has made it clear that he wants lawmakers to prioritize resolving the ongoing dispute about the fate of Permanent Fund Dividend payments to Alaskans.

    If recent and upcoming rallies are any indication, many Alaskans share this expectation. Some are demanding that the Legislature follow Alaska’s statutory law and approve a full PFD payment to all qualified residents. Others are willing to accept a compromise, so long as the Legislature votes to let Alaskans vote on enshrining the PFD in the State Constitution.

    “A 50-50 split is not perfect, but it presents a path forward in a Legislature where most members are openly hostile to the dividend,” Dunleavy said.

    Dunleavy vetoed the paltry $525 dividend that the Legislature approved earlier this year, which means there is currently no dividend slated for 2021. If the Legislature had followed Alaska law, the statutory dividend would be roughly $3,700 this year.

    From 1982 to 2015 the amount of each payment was based upon a five-year average of the Permanent Fund’s performance. In 2016, then Gov. Bill Walker abandoned the longstanding statutory PFD, and the Legislature has since engaged in an annual debate about how much they should provide for the PFD payments. Last year’s dividend payment was just $992 – the eighth smallest over a 39-year period.

    Upcoming rallies, including an Aug. 1 one planned for Fairbanks, will include a mix of views about how to move forward regarding the PFD.

    Despite campaigning on the promise of restoring a full statutory dividend, Dunleavy has been met with strong opposition from the majority of legislators and is now willing to accept a compromise. The governor has proposed a $2,350 PFD for 2021 if the Legislature will agree to give Alaskans a chance to vote on protecting the PFD with a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the government can’t spend more from the Permanent Fund than what is given to Alaskans through the annual PFD payments.

    “A 50-50 split is not perfect, but it presents a path forward in a Legislature where most members are openly hostile to the dividend,” Dunleavy said in a lengthy lengthy statement last month.

    If the Legislature agrees to let Alaskans vote on the constitutional amendment plan, Dunleavy predicts the PFD will increase to $3,263 over the next decade based on a conservative growth rate of 6.25%.

    “Some have rightly wondered why 50-50? Anyone who knows me is aware that no one has worked harder since 2016 to save the full PFD,” Dunleavy said in June. “But as I’ve said since my Senate days, without constitutionalizing the PFD, the shrinking dividends are a clear precursor to the ultimate end of the PFD program.”

    Upcoming rallies, including an Aug. 1 one planned for Fairbanks, will include a mix of views about how to move forward regarding the PFD.

    “Some want a full statutory PFD, and some are willing to compromise with SJR6, 50/50 split and protecting it in our constitution,” organizer Shelly Shupe said in a notice for the Fairbanks event. “This rally is for ALL of you that want to tell our Legislature once and for all – NO MORE THEFT!”

    Another rally is set for the Mat-Su Valley with others still in the works.

    TAKING ACTION

    • Fairbanks rally on Aug. 1: Click here for details.
    • Wasilla rally on July 31: Click here for details.
    • Click here to contact legislators about the PFD.

    Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

    Joel Davidson
    Joel Davidson
    Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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    22 Comments

    1. If they are not following the law, then why can’t they be sued, or maybe even demand charges be filed against them for violating the law ? You know, kinda like it would be if I violated state law.

      • That is exactly what I have been saying every time I chime in on this subject. Gov. Dunleavy is apparently not on our side. The legislature already gets the same amount that the population get. Then we are supposed to fork over another half of what we get? That means the legislature gets 75% of the income and we get 25%. Someone please explain how this is right!

        • It’s 50% of the 5 percent draw for the PFD, and 50% for government. This year if they used this formula, we would get about $2350, but the kicker would be that we would be allowed to vote on a constitutional amendment and stop the yearly nonstop bickering between legislators over the PFD.

      • So stop talking about it and sue. Start a Go Fund Me page to pay for it, let us know on this forum, and I’ll be the first to contribute what I am able! If I was in better health, I would do it myself.

    2. This is one of the reasons why they do not want the legislative offices, and buildings moved up here where they aren’t so protectively isolated.

      • We voted for that in the ’80’s (as I remember). They ignored that, too. No wonder people don’t trust politicians.

    3. HB 76 gave him the power to recalculate it and your legislative body backed him all the way and railroaded it through!!!!!

      • Then HB76 is unconstitutional and the people need to take this to the US Supreme Court. That is the court that decided the funds couldn’t be distributed the way the legislature wanted to do it before the original PFD’s came out.

    4. Organizers need to get the hell off of Fakebook! Some of us refuse to open an account there and your reach is quickly dwindling as more and more people either leave or are banned by Fakebook for their verbotten speech . The link to the events does me and dozens of others I know no good.

      • I tried to join facebook in order to find out when protests were and was told I couldn’t do so because my “page violated their community standards”; I didn’t have a page yet….guess the White House is flagging the YouTube videos I watch and keeping me from joining other sites…I wear it as a badge of honor but would still like to know how to find out where and when protests are going on in Anchorage.

    5. If the capitol was was within reach of the average Alaskan, the legislature would be mobbed every day until they paid attention, but no, it’s in an annex of Alaska far away from the population center… and that is how the crooks want it.

    6. If recent and upcoming rallies are any indication, many Alaskans share this expectation. Some are demanding that the Legislature follow Alaska’s statutory law and approve a full PFD payment to all qualified residents.

      What don’t they understand It’s the LAW
      End of story

    7. Hopefully reasonable legislators can be persuaded to follow the law this year and set a good example of listening to the people they are elected to serve.

      • Unfortunately, their are very few reasonable legislators left. And this is our own fault for letting it get this way. The only thing that will change things is if WE all stand up and fight. Contact your legislators in both houses by writing letters (you know, those things done on paper, put into envelopes with stamps and sent to the recipient), writing emails AND calling their offices to register your views: that way you multiply your views by a factor of 3. The other side does this and this is why they are winning more and more.

    8. The people did not vote on their PFD to be STOLEN.
      They never gave us an opportunity to say “No”, neither do thiefs.

    9. Just like the national legislative bodies, our state’s legislature refuses to follow the law. We are letting them do so. I contacted my. past, state senator and she told me to piss off if I didn’t like it; and she was a “Republican”.

    10. We have career criminals in our local and federal government.. applying laws or regulations despite their original intent.

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