Governor Dunleavy Calls on Legislature to Prioritize PFD, Savings and People First Bills
May 02, 2022
(SitNews) – On Friday, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy asked the Legislature to prioritize a fair amount of dividends from the permanent fund, placing the excess in state savings and take action on the People First Initiative bills introduced earlier this session.
“I ask the Legislative Assembly to provide each eligible resident with a PFD of at least $3,700 this year,” Governor Dunleavy said. “We have this great opportunity to provide a 50/50 PFD while having enough money to spare. The more money in the hands of Alaskans, the better for everyone. These are tough times for Alaskans paying at the pumps as the government takes advantage of high oil prices. We need to put the money back in the pockets of our constituents.
In March, Governor Dunleavy announced a projected $3.4 billion increase to the spring 2022 revenue forecast over this year and next. According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, the forecast is consistent and the state still projects a multi-billion dollar surplus for 2022 and 2023.
In addition to the PFD, the administration’s priority is to rebuild savings with surpluses in the order of $11 billion over 10 years, based on a conservative forecast of more than $70 per barrel until in 2031.
According to the estimates of Bloomberg Economy, the average U.S. household can expect to pay $5,200 more this year — $433 a month — than last year due to inflation that has risen at a historic rate under the Biden administration. The economic policies put in place by the Biden administration are hitting low-income Alaskans the hardest, where they lack a savings cushion to protect them from rising prices.
Governor Dunleavy added, “We have the resources we need to complete this PFD, so we are waiting for the Legislative Assembly to make its decision. Rural Alaska is going to see, potentially, $17/gallon oil in some places. Alaskans should benefit from state resources.
The Alaska House offers a $1,200 and $1,300 PFD to help with high fuel costs. On April 21, the Alaska Senate Finance Committee passed legislation changing the PFD formula. Senate Bill 199 would change the PFD formula to align with a 50/50 split of the annual OPV drawdown.
- If the bill passes, the 2022 PFD would be $2,600 per person.
- In 2023, the PFD formula would change to align with a 75-25 POMV split.
- If the bill passes, the 2023 PFD would be $1,300 per person.
With just over two weeks remaining in this session, the pressure to complete business is at full speed. In the House, MPs work on the capital budget and senators work on the operating budget.
During this session, Governor Dunleavy also addressed sex trafficking, sexual offenses and victim protection with Senate Bills 189, 187 and 188. The bills are part of his People First Initiative, which includes five major cross-cutting topics: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, Human/Sex Trafficking, Foster Care and Homelessness
“April [was] Sexual Assault Awareness Month, [last] the week [was] National Victims of Crime Week, and [last Thursday] was Denim Day,” Governor Dunleavy said. “Sexual assault awareness shouldn’t only matter for one month of the year. I call on the Legislature to act on my administration’s People First Initiative bills – modernizing the definition of consent and protecting Alaskans from sexual assault. These are common-sense reforms to close the loopholes, increase penalties for perpetrators, and improve our system to protect victims’ rights. Alaskans deserve to feel heard and safe in their communities. We will see change happen in Alaska, but there is still work to be done, and it is up to the Legislature to decide.
Edited by: Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Office of Governor Michael Dunleavy
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