Governor Mike Dunleavy is proposing 2021 Permanent Fund Dividend checks that would total $4,972 per Alaskan. Money needed to pay this would come from the Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve, the governor said in a briefing Friday, and would be in addition to an annual payment from the fund to help support the state budget.
The supersized PFD will consist of two payments, the first a supplement to a dividend for 2020 paid last June and the second a regular 2022 dividend that will be calculated according to a 1980s statute that guides how the PFD is calculated.
Despite the statute the Legislature has final authority to set the amount of the dividend and does so depending on what funds are available.
Dunleavy released details of the new PFD plan along with his state budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022, the state financial year that begins July 1.
The budget must be submitted Dec. 15 under state law but the governor chose to release the proposal several days early.
Along with the larger PFD, which Dunleavy defends is needed to stimulate the state economy, the governor also proposed a constitutional amendment to guarantee the annual dividend; state general obligation bonds for infrastructure construction that would total between $300 million and $350 million, and a general spending plan that would cut $294 million from state programs.
Voter approval is needed for general obligation bonds, and rather than wait for the next scheduled election in 2022 Dunleavy proposed s special election to be held next spring to get money from the bond issues out quickly, assuming voters approve.
In the same election the governor would ask for an advisory vote on a plan to restructure the method of calculating the amount of the PFD so that 50% of the payment made annually from Fund earning to support the budget would go to pay for the dividend.
This would have the effect of reducing money available for budget support, but there were no estimates of amounts given. The advisory vote itself would have no legal effect but legislators will pay close attention if voters approve the change in the PFD calculation.
Actually doing it would require a bill to pass the state House and Senate.
On other issues, the governor said he will not seek further cuts in the University of Alaska budget and that state money to support the state ferry system will be maintained at near the current levels.
The $294 million in proposed reductions will come from state programs but the details of where they will occur will be spelled out in budget documents to be released separately.