Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed an economic relief plan that calls on legislators to authorize an April payment of a $1,306 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend check and a $1 billion state relief fund.
“Immediate and far-reaching economic relief is needed right now,” Dunleavy said in a Friday press conference.
The $1,306 is the amount Dunleavy says Alaskans are owed from the 2019 dividend. The amount is the difference between the 2019 dividend check that was paid out and the amount that would have been given out using the statutory formula.
The supplemental dividend, which Dunleavy says could be in the hands of Alaskans next month, is being submitted to the Legislature as an amendment to the operating budget. The budget requires the approval of the state Legislature.
Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai/Soldotna, said he is strongly considering the governor’s plan and recognizes the need, but desires more details.
“We’re not giving him an open checkbook,” Knopp said. “We need details. Where does it come from? What programs? We’re very cautious, but we recognize the need. We’re going to continue to find a way to make this workable.”
Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said that he is in favor of the governor’s plan and what he called an “economic relief and wage replacement dividend” — positing that the State’s health mandates are largely the reason for Alaskans’ current financial struggles.
“The government made the call, and I think that we have to make sure that Alaskan’s don’t get into a situation where the losses from the severe impacts of not having an income may potentially be worse than the losses from COVID-19 itself,” Micciche said. “I think we have to pull together, and it is our job as the government that made the call to make sure that our constituents in this very stressful time at least don’t have those impending financial threats on their mind at every moment of the day when they’re worried about the virus itself.”
Dunleavy said more details on the economic plan would come later. On Saturday, Dunleavy announced that Alaska businesses who have experienced an economic impact from the new coronavirus can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Affected businesses can apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan at SBA.gov/disaster.