So far, the Legislature has avoided a showdown with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, but it’s coming — and the size of your Permanent Fund dividend check could be at the heart of the battle.

Will it be the $3,000 the governor promised on the campaign trail, along with the more than a billion dollars in budget cuts he’s proposed?

So far, House and Senate leaders have pushed back with smaller cuts and plans for a much smaller dividend.

There’s already one sign lawmakers expect the PFD to be a bottleneck. Just before the 90-day mark in the session, the House passed its operating budget without setting an amount for this year’s PFD.

Leaders said they left it out of the budget for a separate discussion. But Alaskans have already been discussing it, and in one case, singing about it.

“Hurricane” Dave Rush, an Anchorage singer-songwriter and humorist, has recorded a CD of his song, “Don’t Touch My PFD.” 

He said all the fighting over the amount of the dividend inspired him to write lyrics, as in this verse, which reflects Alaskan angst over using some of the Permanent Fund's earnings to pay for government.

Some want to take part of it away;
The state, it seems, has bills to pay.
Lazy politicians cast an eye
And stick their fingers in the pie.
The last governor gave it a whack;
The new gov says he’s going to pay it back.
That money’s mine, it ain’t no joke.
What do I care if the state goes broke?

Although “Don’t Touch My PFD” is the catchy refrain in the song, Rush says he leaves it to the listener to decide whether he’s serious or satirical. Rush says he’s dedicated the song to Dunleavy, “but truthfully, it’s dedicated to everybody in Alaska who has a stake in this.”

On KTVA’s Frontiers show this week, Rush’s song was used as a backdrop for a variety of opinions expressed in the debate. Not surprisingly, the choice the governor has presented to Alaskans, a big dividend vs. big cuts, is not an easy one.

Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.

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