Alaska’s Democratic-controlled Senate majority caucus is attempting to justify deep cuts to this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend checks in order to pump an extra $250 million dollars into public education, along with paying down massive amounts of government debt.

During a Feb. 1 press conference, members of the Senate Majority discussed Senate Bill 52, which would increase the Base Student Allocation (BSA) by $1,000. The BSA, which is the amount of money the state sets aside annually for each student, is currently $5,960. Adding another $1,000 would mean taking funds from other areas, namely the individual PFD checks that go to Alaskan residents.

Sen. Loki Tobin (D-Anchorage), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, claimed the proposed massive increase in education spending represents a “bold approach” to addressing educational concerns.

Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) noted, however, that increasing the BSA won’t come without a price.

“If this bill is $250 million, we could handle it,” he said, “if we had a $1,300 dividend,  we could pay for the education increase and we could pay for the deficit and we could pay off all the municipal debt for the entire state for municipalities.”

But whittling the PFD down to $1,300 would represent a $2,500 cut. If Alaskans were paid a full statutory PFD, each check would be roughly $3,800 per resident. That’s a $10,000 reduction for a household of four.

“Somethings go to give,” Stedman said. “So, we’re going to have to have those conversations.”

Clearly, however, Stedman was enthusiastic about the prospects of reducing the PFD to pay for government programs and debt reduction.

“It’s staggering the impact here, when you can pay off all of the virtually all of the municipal bond dept for the entire state, and fill the deficit up and fix the education funding requirement,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Gary Stevens added that he’s heard from public educators and administrators about what they describe as a crisis in education funding. This week the Alaska Association of School Boards is organizing a lobbying effort on the part of public education activists.

“It truly is a crisis, I think,” Stevens said, adding that Sen. Tobin’s job is to “face the ciris and be bold – figure out where do we go.”

Apart from increasing the BSA, Tobin said the Senate is also looking into additional education funding for transportation, maintenance, constructions and other various projects.

Stedman ended the press conference by reiterating that all the additional education funding would mean paying out a smaller PFD this fall.

“But we’re going to have to make a choice,” he said. “Do we want to teach our kids to cash checks or do we want to teach them to read and write and do arithmetic? … And that will be the fundamentals of the debate, but something’s got to give.”

Whether a sharp increase in government spending on schools will actually translate into better education is a highly contested matter.

According to the Alaska Policy Forum, Alaska’s total per pupil revenue has grown by 32% per pupil over the past two decades – from $15,000 in 2002 to $20,000 in 2020. That includes all federal, state and local funding sources, not just the BSA.

Overall, Alaska exceeds the national average in per pupil spending by 23%, APF notes.

“Increasing spending is often seen as the cure-all for a lackluster education system, no matter which state is examined,” the APF report explained. “But higher spending does not necessarily correlate with better outcomes. Alaska had the sixth highest per-pupil expenditures in 2018-2019, yet National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores in 2019 were the fifth lowest nationwide in fourth-grade mathematics, and dead last in fourth-grade reading.”

APF, along with many other educational reform groups, note that competition is the best way to improve schools. This includes school vouchers, which allow families to choose the best educational options for their children, whether that be public, private or homeschooling.


Click here to contact the members of the Alaska Senate.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Alaska’s Senate majority considers slashing PFD to add $250M to public education

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Friend of Humanity says:

    They are not going to stop no matter what the People want because we have lost our state to the globalist and Dunleavy is allowing them to wipe us out. The mineral rights (and whatever else underground rights) need to be returned to the People of Alaska AND all of the federally- and state-locked up land returned to the People. The government is handing over all of our minerals/metals to out-of-state companies (or global companies & globalists), we the People receive nothing for what they remove from our lands AND the globalists are lining their pockets. But, in the end, the Alaska state legislature that does NOT work for us is going to take away all of the PFD from us anyway – unless we figure out how to stop them.

    • Lobo says:

      Might be able to thank “Rigged Choice Voting” for the spending free for all democrat majority. Unfortunately, we have those like Stedman giggling to get along. as well.

    • James says:

      If they’re going to take my PFD, I want the mineral rights to my property.

      • V says:

        10000% agree with this! If you take my PFD you give me my mineral rights to the land I own. If they need money so bad for public education it should come from the marijuana taxes they are RAKING in.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    How many years are we going to keep listening to the Schools need money and not get anything for it? I for one am sick of hearing it. I say to bad. The problem is the administration and board need a 50% cut in pay. this will give way more that enough to the teachers where the money should be so they can teach. Another thing is if a child don’t learn the information they get held back to repeat that year. This B.S. of we seen him fir a school year now push him through doesn’t help that child in life or the community. We need hard decisions made and all the money over tge ladt 20+ years we’ve gave the school district everytimr they said the sky is falling hasn’t changed a thing. We want some bang for the buck. start teaching the kids, being them off the bottom of the barrel and we will talk about giving you more money then. If it takes a few years we’ll you know when you’ll see more money then. I’m no rocket scientist but I think I can figure it out. I didn’t need a PHD in front of my name to fo it either. What you say parents and community members? We going to roll over again or say no, we had enough?

    • Lobo says:

      Drag Shows cost a lot of money.

    • kc says:

      If the money was going to the students, classroom and teachers, maybe yes, but what we’re hearing, the greater portion of the money is given to the NEA and the administration of the ASD. Teachers do NOT NEED to supply students out of their personal money. That is the Administration’s Purpose. But as of now NO..We DO NOT NEED to support the NEA, when they are pushing their politics AND NOT the basics, reading writing, and arithmetic and general history (Not WOKE history)..and some Music(learning how to read basic music theory. etc, not a listening to wok music and the arts. OUR PFD is OURS…not the the Schools.. It’s insanity to give them $$ when they can’t make a decent budget.

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    The real crisis is the failing students not the overpaid administration or the “underpaid” teachers.
    Whatever money they take from us will just be squandered anyway, whether by the legislature or the school system. There is no accountability with either, only endless demands for more money. And you can bet, if we don’t go along with it, a state income tax is in the offing.

  • Ceak says:

    The schools don’t need more money. They need better budgets.

  • Mb says:

    So the new norm, if there is an issue just throw more money at it. I say no, Alaska students are pretty much at the bottom of the curve compared to the ret of the nation and have been. Our students already get as much or more than the rest the rest of the students do in the lower 48.
    So I guess throwing more money at the problem doesnt work. Unfortunately our current “roll over” legislature wont or cant do the research needed.

    If you want to fix the problem, 1st stop cutting the hours the student are actually being taught. 2nd focus on the core education, get away from the “the new curriculum”, 3rd start drug testing teachers, get them to show up not high and not drunk (yes they do) not all, but enough. 4th cut the salaries of school administration until our scores come up, you’ll be sure that eventually they do. Our public education system in Alaska is in shambles
    some of the best scores are coming from homeschool programs. Do the research it might scare you.

  • James says:

    I could not be more disappointed in my senator, Stevens. He gets to Juneau and immediately begins betraying his constituents. People are struggling with stagflation, and their “elected” representatives conspire to take even more from them.
    Next will be a state income tax.

  • Bessie says:

    I am already paying $900.00 dollars out of my own pocket for my child to go to a cultural school. Also we bus her to school and pick her up each day. I do not need to put out any more than I already am. State should not be tapping into the PFD for any reason. That belongs to the people in the state. Lot of state workers and their positions just need to be eliminated. Investigate the Child welfare Services that take away children even in cases where relatives were willing to take of them without public aid. Naw! They turn around and let some foster parents to be paid to take them in and then they are then maybe adopted and state and federal pays for their care till they are of age. Then some of them end up on the streets.

    • kryptor says:

      Your Child, your choice, your burden.

      • Sharon Alice Turner says:

        My choice: Shutter ASD completely, evict them ALL from “our building” on Northern Lights out onto the curbside. I have watched ASD ruin our kids for half century now. WE the Folks must
        finally take a stand! WE the peoples Answer to ‘them’ at every turn (“You are all finished, fired, terminated) is NO! (one of the best things to teach our children too : No) Lenin said give me 4 years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. With God- less welfare mom getting her manicures and hairdos and “Daddy” out making more kids to throw away. Those same never attending a school board meeting; essentially abandons their young to the ever greedy brain washers. Look at Anchorage today compared to 40 years ago.. then take a real look. grandma

      • Sharon Alice Turner says:

        WE have a variety of great home school associations to teach and support home schooler families. Hey, there to ASD and Teachers unions. Home schooled kids can R E A D, Learn and cypher too!

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    It is always money. More money has not worked. It is not a money problem that kids can’t read or write and throwing more money at the problem is not going to fix it. It beings to mind the witty quote by Albert Einstein “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” The money is a ‘rinse and repeat’ demand that is more about power and control and the avoidance of the real problems.

  • Lobo says:

    It would be nice if we could educate enough voters to support a constitutional convention, whereas the PFD could finally be protected from the money grabbing politicians who think it’s just free money to fling at any thing they desire.. Too many have the misconception that it will be subject to a runaway, out of control convention, and a few.. a minority.. will take control, and push their radical agendas. That is not how it works, but until they are informed enough, we will continue to have our PFD raided from Juneau.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I agree Lobo!

    • AK Pilot says:

      I agree. I have a very conservative friend who fell for the propaganda and voted against the convention. Where was our side when the (outside) left was buying radio ads, sending out mailers, etc.?

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        I think that we are learning more and more who the RINOs are; which seems to include a lot of the Alaska GOP imho.

      • Sharon Alice Turner says:

        Even ‘local’ Republican Party is gone woke. They had the affront to contact me for support some weeks back! My reply to the lot of the Murky-ites.. Too little way too late. I am done with all of you.

  • Molly says:

    You just can’t fix stupid.

  • Kasey says:

    Money for failing schools? Not one student will see a single dime! The money goes to salaries and indoctrination.

  • Hans Litten says:

    It’s proven every year – Alaskans will starve their government to death, just to get their hands on a few more petrodollars. Gotta have that new snow machine, after all. How pathetic.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Lol Starve the government to death? Really? I think that we should because they have gotten to big and ruly. They should be working for the People, but instead they work for themselves and the globalists against the People.

  • Jen says:

    “Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.” proverbs 22:22-23 “whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” 22:16. ” do not move an ancient landmark that your fathers have set.” 22:28. “do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong, he will plead their case against you.” 23:10-11 just look what happen against walker. Our God he does, in his way, in his time , will protect the defenseless, abused, exploited.

  • Theresa says:

    For what noble cause will they raid our PFD’s again next year?
    Why do we have an education funding crisis?

  • Michael Thurber says:

    How about the state’s education system, school boards come up with a plan to produce a better education for our students before getting millions of dollars for doing nothing as usual. The money must be going into school boards pockets and not into our students’ heads. Wake up Alaska.

  • Dennis says:


  • Sterling Crone says:

    education is ABSOLUTELY NOT ABOUT MORE MONEY. if that were true, how do you explain the 16yr old boys in a one room schoolhouse of 100yrs ago reading & writing 2 languages, enough geometry and math to build fences and windmills to turn a water pump, animal husbandry and life sciences to grow their own food, and enough earth science, (weather, waters, seasons etc) to become MEN in their communities???
    it is more than stupid to consider piling on more money to a system we KNOW does not work. Stupid, stupid stupid.

  • Sharon says:

    When we Alaskans can’t pay our bills don’t you think we would love to have other means to come up with the extra money needed? What do we do? We get another job, or sell things!! We don’t take it from our neighbors! If the state needs more money to pay the bills then sell state land!! Failure to read at 3rd grade level shows that someone isn’t doing their job!! Money won’t cure that! NO to using the dividend!! Sell some of the state land!

  • mhs says:

    It might help if the schools were running a little more often. My kids have only gone a full 5 day week twice this year. There is always a reason why the schools shut down for a day or sometimes more- Bad road so the school shuts down- Parent teacher conferences so no school (teachers used to do that affter school but now it’s done during work hours so parents who work and want to attend need to get time off, better to inconveniance 20-40 parents than 1 teacher) teacher inservice day so no school- holiday so no school- vacation so no school- power outage so no school- snowed again so no school and on and on and on. And now on Monday the classes start an hour later so the teachers can have a weekly morning meeting. I bet there’s some working parents who like to get the day off everytime it snows. Although I’m thinking there are fewer working parents now then there used to be simply because keeping a job when you have to take off to stay home with kids who aren’t in school or leaving/arriving to work early/late because you need to play bus driver would be next to impossible. I think we are already getting cheated out of tax dollars by being forced to pay for services that we don’t get and in return our children are being indoctrinated with questionable ideas instead of being given an adequate education.

  • Andrew Bosela says:

    Honestly, to the bottom of Lake Iliamna or, better yet, the fires of Mount Spur with the PFD. It will be the noose and scaffolding that we hang ourselves with as a state and a people, the accursed thing. We are a hobbled, hamstrung, and neutered polity, carved out and void of any true individuality, democracy, or rights. These noble communal duties sold down the river and across the oceans so that we my suckle from the security of wealth and amusement. As a state have lived fat, dumb, and happy these last six and a half decades as if there is no tomorrow, and when tomorrow dawns, we will weep and reap our harvest with the chains of the liberalism and global capitalism about our feet that we forged in our younger days. Wisdom is dead in this land, we fools have killed her.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      We have not become millionaires over the pittance paid to us. However, as the days go on, I am leaning more towards that we should demand all of the mineral rights be returned to the people and we should demand that all federally locked-up and state locked-up lands be returned to the people. We see that the feds and the state are leasing out the lands to foreign-owned or out-of-state owned companies; so all of our resources are being pillaged. We are receiving less and less from the PFD that Gov. Hammond had set up for the people and we receive NOTHING from all of the mining that is going on in our state. Alaskans are losing their resources, their money and soon their homes if this all continues.

  • Penny Seliger says:

    Audit ALL the public schools! ESPECIALLY THE BIGGET ONE! ANCHORAGE SCHOOL DISTRICT! Most of their money is being pushed into CRT and other programs. Parents watch out for your children.

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    After reading the Juneau Beacon we can see that the senate bullies formed a clique based on peer pressure, nothing to do with representing their constituents. That clique took over and decided the Democrats would be in charge of the senate committees and that senator Stevens from Kodiak would run the senate for the entire state of Alaska and would slap the hands of the three honest, trustworthy senators who still have integrity and plan to represent the views of their constituents, leaving them out of the “powerful” clique. They have been mistreated and shamed and left out of committee assignments. They were left out because according to Stevens (from Kodiak) they would not bow down and vote how they are told to vote by the bullies in the senate. Now Senator Stevens from Kodiak wants to take the Alaskan citizens PFD to fund a bloated failing education system that is perverting our children and not teaching academics. What would a senator from Kodiak know about the education going on in Anchorage or Fairbanks?

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    We are quickly becoming the pedo capital of the world!
    Thank you dunleavy!!!

  • Rick says:

    As someone who worked for ASD for 14 long torturous years I can tell you where to cut budget there at least. Start with the formerly “free” federal programs and work your way around. PRE-K is tax payer funded preschool, I saw that when they remodeled Mountain View Elementary and it expanded from there. The federal programs anywhere is basically a drug dealers mentality they give you the first hit for 2-3 years then locals pick ups 50% match then after 5 years the whole thing is unfunded and the school system is crack head and fat with staffing to support the system. Next stop renting out the schools for community centers, campfire, church activities, non school activities etc. The rental fees don’t cover the utility costs, abuse of the facility or the staffing and there is no mechanism to recoup the damages when they happen. They are schools for education of children not day care/summer camp and everything else the “facilities rental” department can think of along with PR to act like they are doing something all day long. Next cut the number of sports down drastically, and expand charter schools and school choice. Bottom line modern problems require modern solutions and if organized labor, students, teachers , management and parents work together instead of engaging in tribalism and screaming at each other in camps then maybe it can get done but the first thing you need to do with any problem is recognize there is one…Alaskans should not lose their PFD because schools systems across the state have become crack heads to federal dollars and pet projects in their districts

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    This is promising news!


  • Steve says:

    stealing pfd is a crime. lock them up.