Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives an interview in the state Capitol on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The governor urged legislative action on his proposal for the dividend paid to residents from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives an interview in the state Capitol on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The governor urged legislative action on his proposal for the dividend paid to residents from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Dunleavy urges lawmakers to take action on dividend plan

“Every time we come up with a thing to move this along, it’s not enough for some people …”

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

JUNEAU — Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday urged lawmakers to act on his proposal to place in the state constitution a new formula for the annual check residents receive from the Alaska Permanent Fund as the current special legislative session slumped along.

Some legislators have raised questions about some of the administration’s modeling assumptions and concerns with tackling the dividend issue without other pieces of a possible fiscal plan.

“It’s like whack-a-mole,” Dunleavy said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Every time we come up with a thing to move this along, it’s not enough for some people, and you start to become somewhat cynical. You start to say, ‘Well, wait a second. You’re moving the goal posts constantly to try and fix this issue.’”

“We have not decreed that they shouldn’t come forth with ideas,” he said later. “Let’s see what their ideas are.”

The Republican said if legislators want to discuss revenues, they can do so in August, when he has scheduled another special session. The agenda for that special session references “an act or acts relating to measures to increase state revenues,” and includes his proposed constitutional amendment that would put the establishment of new taxes to a public vote. He has unsuccessfully pushed a similar constitutional proposal the last two years.

Special sessions can last up to 30 days. That mark will be hit in the current special session on June 18. Dunleavy called this special session to finish the state budgets and consider his dividend proposal. The size of this year’s check is a point of contention in budget talks.

There is separate debate over his proposed constitutional amendment that would restructure the permanent fund, rolling its spendable earnings reserve into the fund’s protected principal, and set a draw limit, with half the draw going toward dividends. Legislative leaders have tried to downplay expectations that agreement on a long-term dividend solution could be reached this special session.

A constitutional amendment would require two-thirds support in each the House and Senate to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. Dunleavy said he thinks he’s on the right side of the dividend issue.

“People would love an opportunity to go to the polls and be able to vote on something like this,” he said of his proposal.

A longstanding formula for calculating checks was last used in 2015 amid budget deficits. In 2018, lawmakers started using permanent fund earnings, long used for dividends, to also help pay government expenses and sought to limit withdrawal amounts for both purposes.

The Senate, in its version of the budget, included a dividend for this year estimated to be around $2,300. That is in line with a 50/50 split between what is drawn from earnings for government and dividends. The Senate proposal would exceed the withdrawal limit, something many legislators have expressed concern with. The House did not include a dividend in its version of the budget.

House and Senate negotiators are working to hash out budget differences.

More in News

Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes, center, along with leaders of the House majority coalition, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, left and Rep. Kelly Merrickspeaks, right, speak to reporters on the final day of a special legislative session in Juneau, Alaska Friday, June 18, 2021. The special legislative session limped toward a bitter end Friday, with Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and House majority leaders sharply disagreeing over the adequacy of the budget passed by lawmakers earlier this week. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Special session limps toward its end, another looms

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and House majority leaders sharply disagreed on the adequacy of the budget passed by lawmakers.

Brent Hibbert (left) presents Tim Dillon with a commending resolution on Tuesday in Soldotna. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
KPEDD honored with assembly resolution

The resolution praised, among other things, KPEDD’s work in helping distribute federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The Kenai Public Dock is seen on Friday, June 18, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai dock repairs substantially complete

The dock, which was built in 1986, sustained damage from multiple earthquakes, including in November of 2018.

Screenshot 
A recently released map by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows the vast areas of low data speeds and access by broadband users across Alaska and the rest of the U.S.
White House laying groundwork for improved internet infrastructure

In Alaska, providers are looking at their own improvments to access.

Kate Cox, 12, testifies before the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Council, public voice support for Triumvirate land donation

The land is located near Daubenspeck Park by the Kenai Walmart.

Part of the hose line laid around the perimeter of the 102-acre Loon Lake Fire to help firefighters extinguish any hot spots is seen on Thursday, June 17, 2021 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Bryan Quimby/Gannett Glacier Fire Crew)
Loon Lake Fire reaches 100% containment

The 102-acre fire was first reported on the evening of June 12 and is said to have been caused by lightning.

A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron taxi during exercise Red Flag-Alaska 21-02 at Eielson Air Force Base on June 14. 
Tech. Sgt. Peter Thompson / U.S. Air Force
Air Force kicks off major multinational exercise in Alaska

More than 100 aircraft from three countries will be involved.

Ron Gillham, who represents District 30 in the Alaska House of Representatives, is seen here in this undated photo. (Courtesy Ron Gillham)
Gillham files intent to run in 2022 primary

Gillham did not indicate the office he plans to run for.

Most Read