Dunleavy: Alaskans to get $1,600 dividend, but fall special session looms
Alaskans will receive a $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend this fall, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he has not given up on getting legislative support for a payment that adheres to a decades-old statutory formula.
Dunleavy said he’s working with state lawmakers to call another special session at an undetermined date this fall. This would be designed to produce a supplemental PFD for $1,400.
“I will not let up until the remaining funds are appropriated for the full statutory PFD,” Dunleavy said in a video posted online. “I know Alaskans understand this decision and I appreciate all of your input.”
Lawmakers approved a $1,600 payment last month in an appropriations bill that also restored more than $300 million of Dunleavy’s $400-plus million in vetoes on June 28.
Last week Dunleavy announced several appropriations that he promised not to veto. On Monday he added to the list, including:
- Nearly $4 million for the Alaska State Council on the Arts
- Another $100,000 for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
- About $2.2 million for the human services and community initiative grants
- Slightly more than $500,000 to reopen the Utqiagvik law office
- More than $2.7 million for the state’s agricultural program
Last week the governor announced no second vetoes to the state’s Senior Benefits Payment Program, early education, Alaska Legal Services and online libraries. Gov. Dunleavy also set an agreement with the University of Alaska Board of Regents to spread $70 million in budget cuts across three years rather than $135 million in a single year.
Dunleavy still red-lined several appropriations for a second time:
- $2.7 million for Public Broadcasting
- $3.4 million for the Ocean Ranger Program, which places Coast Guard certified engineers on cruise ships to monitor environmental safety
- $27 million for Medicaid enhanced dental
- $50 million for Medicaid
- $5 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System
“Certain programs, programs we value, got caught in a budget discussion that went on way too long,” Dunleavy said. “The seriousness of the deficit, the need to begin making reforms and the length of our legislative session all contributed to the level of uncertainty we experienced the past several months. We have listened and we have learned from this past year's budget process.”
Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, said the vetoes are short-sighted.
"The governor’s vetoes continue to display a lack of vision for this state that manufactures instability in our economy, weakens our University system, undermines our skilled workforce, and installs fear in our most vulnerable citizens," he said. "This budget will assuredly force major increases to local property and sales taxes."
House Majority Speaker Bryce Edgmon released the following statement:
“In a way, the signing of HB2001 represents good news for Alaskans. We will officially receive a $1,600 dividend, more than we have received in many years since the program’s inception. The governor also decided to follow the Legislature’s leadership and restore programs and services that are essential to elders and children across our state. At the same time, the governor made many cuts without analysis to determine impacts on people and our economy, and he continues to perpetuate the myth that we can afford the largest PFD in history without significant negative consequences.”
Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, R-Wasilla, praised Dunleavy for the actions he took. Sullivan-Leonard, a member of the House Finance Committee, said the cuts were necessary amid an uncertain economy.
"We are pleased to see that so many of those necessary reductions we fought for remain in place, and I remain vigilant in fighting for a full, statutory Permanent Fund Dividend,” she said.
Lawmakers could still override the governor's vetoes. Once the third special session begins, state legislators will have five days to get the necessary 45 votes to do so.
Editor's note: This story has been update to include additional reaction from lawmakers.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.