Senate deadlocked on PFD as special session nears an end
The Alaska Senate fell one vote short of reviving a bill that would pay a $3,000 dividend from the state’s oil-wealth fund Monday.
A 10-10 vote to rescind last week’s action kills Senate Bill 1002 with four days remaining in the current 30-day special session.
“It’s unlikely that we’re going to have a dividend concluded by Friday,” said Senate Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman. “Very, very, very, very unlikely.”
Matt Shuckerow, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, said, “Gov. Dunleavy says the job is not finished until we have a full PFD.”
The Senate eventually — and narrowly — agreed with the House to establishing an ad-hoc group made up of four members from each chamber to further study a plan. The House passed the resolution Sunday, but waited to see if the Senate would approve before appointing its members.
The Senate named Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, as chair; Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and Donny Olson, D-Golovin.
Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, voted against establishing the group in an 11-9 vote, adding that it doesn’t reduce any uncertainty.
“Where it goes is really hard to tell,” he said. “I mean you’ve been watching the votes. Multiple split votes. 10 and 10 out of the Senate and no agreement on the House from the minority to the majority. So I think we’re going to see this continue into a special session.”
After being deadlocked on reprising the PFD bill, the Senate unanimously passed a budget compromise struck with the House over the weekend. The vote averts a government shutdown and allows state services to continue with the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
House and Senate leaders expect the budget bill — HB 39 — to be ready for Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s review within three days. If lawmakers are still in session when the Dunleavy receives the budget, he’ll have 15 days, excluding Sundays, to take action.
Dunleavy has pushed for a dividend that meets the statutory formula, which has been ignored for the last three years either through vetoes upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court or a reduced appropriation. Many lawmakers, however, have said the state can no longer afford the full dividends and a new approach is warranted.
With four days left, lawmakers are still looking to pass a capital budget to cover road, highway and construction progress.
That bill, SB 19, remains in the House Finance Committee, which has a 9 a.m. hearing scheduled Tuesday.
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