Updated at 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5
A Wasilla senator plans to introduce legislation to restore the portion of Alaska Permanent Fund dividends vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Bill Walker.
Sen. Mike Dunleavy says he hopes the issue gets immediate attention once the Legislature convenes in January. If it passes, Walker could veto it. But Dunleavy believes there could be sufficient support to override any veto.
“We’ll be gathering, hopefully, co-sponsors that will want to be on board. Hopefully, folks in the House will want to be on board and do a companion bill so we can take care of this issue as quickly as possible,” he said.
Lawmakers earlier this year declined to hold a veto override session to consider reversing the cut.
In a press release, the senator states he hoped Alaskans would be mailed a check for “the remainder of the PFD” in early 2017.
This comes as a state court judge plans to hear a lawsuit from Sen. Bill Wielechowski and others challenging the reduction. The parties hope for a decision by early December. However, the matter still could be appealed.
The senator said he’s also been asked about other ways to restore the permanent fund dividend to residents.
“Some people have asked me, ‘Well, what about a special session.’ Right now, I know there’s no plans of a special session,” Dunleavy said. “I doubt you’ll see a special session before the November election. But if this issue or other issues rise to the level that the Legislature wants to have a special session, that’ll be up to other members as well.”
Dunleavy’s Anchorage news conference was interrupted by two men angry about the dividend reduction. Walker has called the cut necessary as the state grapples with a deficit.
“With our state facing its gravest fiscal crisis in history, my administration and I remain focused on enacting a complete plan that will bring economic stability to this and future generations of Alaskans,” Walker stated in an email response to KTVA on Wednesday.
Dunleavy says Walker is trying to help the state but he disagrees with the approach Walker took.
KTVA’s Bonney Bowman contributed to this report.