What others say: Dunleavy’s bill will sink PFDs

  • Monday, October 10, 2016 8:58pm
  • Opinion

If you haven’t spent your Permanent Fund Dividend yet, hold it close and tight. It may be one of the last, and largest, you will ever get.

Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy held a news conference in front of a Fred Meyer store on Wednesday, touting his plans for legislation to restore the $700 million in PFD funds vetoed by Gov. Bill Walker.

We hope his bill sees the quick death it deserves.

Dunleavy’s stunt is nothing more than a gimmick to raise interest ahead of a possible run for governor in 2018. It’s a wise move in that regard, pandering to a population of Alaskans who prefer we remain a welfare state.

Our state is suffering from something far greater than billion-dollar budget deficits. It seems political ineptitude and constituent greed are our true enemies, not low oil prices.

We’ve defended Walker’s veto before, but we’ll put it in simpler terms:

1. Alaska has a $4 billion budget deficit.

2. Alaska has $3.2 billion in the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

3. Alaska’s unrestricted general fund revenue is $1.2 billion (it was $7.5 billion in 2014).

4. When the Constitutional Budget Reserve runs out in summer 2018, we’ll have to spend from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve.

5. The Earnings Reserve is the same account used to pay PFDs.

No matter how you do the math, all of us are in big trouble.

There’s no evidence to suggest a sudden and drastic spike in oil prices will save us. Sure, it’s possible, but not probable. When Fiscal Year 2019 rolls around, we’ll have three options:

1. Tax ourselves at Connecticut levels.

2. Cut state services and jobs into oblivion.

3. Borrow from the fund that pays dividends.

Gov. Walker is anticipating the third option, which is why he halved our PFD checks this year. It’s only a matter of time until the fund that pays PFDs begins paying for state operations. When that happens, checks will be whittled year by year until nothing is left. When the Fund’s earnings reserve is gone, the only piggy bank left is the constitutionally protected Permanent Fund itself. Walker’s veto bought us more time to get state finances in order.

“Let’s agree that we’re going to have to reduce government and come up with a number first,” Dunleavy said Wednesday. “We can’t even right now agree on a number, a size of reduction.”

A year ago, Alaskans and lawmakers had a say in the size of government. Not so much anymore. The options now are to cut a lot, or a whole lot. Or the state can tax a lot, or a whole lot. In truth, it will probably be a lot of both.

We’d have preferred the real options on the table last January, but legislators turned down those options. Now we must decide how quickly the ship will sink, and stealing an extra $1,000 today will only speed an unpleasant end.

—Juneau Empire, Oct. 9, 2016

More in Opinion

Tease
Opinion: Rural broadband is essential infrastructure

Broadband funding is available. The rest is up to Alaskans.

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: A mom’s and pediatrician’s perspective on COVID-19 vaccines for children

I want to see children and their parents who have yet to get vaccinated roll up their sleeves.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.