PALMER — The Mat-Su Borough Assembly voted last week to approve a resolution supporting Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposals concerning Permanent Fund Dividends and the state obligation to pay 50 percent of the School Bond Debt Reimbursement obligation.
Resolution 21-010 was sponsored by Assemblyman Jesse Sumner and pulled from the Consent Agenda by Deputy Mayor Tam Boeve, who believed that it would be improper for the Assembly to weigh in on PFD amounts this early in the yearly budget process conducted by the state Legislature.
“PFD payments as detailed in the Governor’s budget would be a bout a half a billion dollars put into the Mat-Su Borough economy, so I do not believe that the state is going to spend that much money here in any other fashion and I doubt that there will be any state spending other than the School Bond Debt Reimbursement that we even receive on an equal per capita basis, so I can’t think why this would be objectionable for the Mat-Su Borough,” said Sumner. “I would recommend supporting the dividend. I don’t know that it’s going to be paid out, but a half a billion dollars in our economy certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, especially in these times.”
The resolution sponsored by Sumner was written in support of the Governor’s current budget proposal which would pay out nearly $5,000 PFD’s and provide half of the state’s obligation of a 70/30 split on school bond debt reimbursement. In last year’s budget cycle, the Mat-Su Borough had to cover the entirety of the state’s obligation of 70 percent.
“I definitely oppose telling the Legislature or the Governor that 50 percent of the money that they’re supposed to give us for school bond debt reimbursement is okay or that we even encourage them to give us less than the full amount that they have obligated themselves to in the past,” said Assemblyman Tim Hale.
As assembly members stated their opposition to Sumner’s motion on conditional bases, Assemblywoman Stephanie Nowers moved to amend Resolution 21-010. Nowers moved to add “The borough has a unique ability to absorb this additional cost on a one-time basis,” which passed without opposition. Nowers questioned the potential tradeoff of possible cuts to services and programs with a large PFD payout this year as opposed to funding government at a higher level.
“We just passed legislation in December that urged full funding,” said Nowers. “ I’m not sure how my constituents would come down on those tradeoffs.”
Mat-Su Borough Mayor Vern Halter and Manager Mike Brown recently sent a short letter to Dunleavy thanking him for the inclusion of half of the state’s bond debt obligation in his budget. Hale then moved another amendment that added context to the borough’s desire not to have partial funding of the state’s portion become the standard. Hale moved to include “and full funding of the state’s obligation on school bond debt in the following years,” to Resolution 21-010. Hale’s amendment also passed without opposition.
“I think it’s important to note that Mr. Dunleavy was a big part of passing this bond package,” said Assemblyman Rob Yundt II. “I understand they’re in a tough spot down there but they need to hold up to their end of the commitment.”
After both Hale and Nowers’ amendments passed, the motion on 21-010 passed 6-1 with only Boeve voting in opposition.