The formula for calculating the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend would be protected in the state constitution under a plan proposed by House and Senate Democrats.
They’re worried about the immediately impact of a bill to reduce oil taxes. While Republicans say the new tax regime would prompt more investment, state revenue would decline dramatically in the first few years. Democrats worry that future legislatures would dip into the Permanent Fund to balance the budget and start cutting into the dividend.
They’ve introduced resolutions in the House and Senate to place the state PFD statute into the constitution. Alaska’s Permanent Fund savings account is already enshrined in the constitution.
During a news conference Wednesday, Anchorage Democratic Senator Bill Wielechowski recalled that voters in the past have rejected using the Permanent Fund to help pay for state services.
“There was a vote put to the people years ago on taking money out of the Permanent Fund and the people said overwhelmingly ‘no’. So what this bill would do is put it to a vote of the people, enshrining the Permanent Fund Dividend in the constitution – the payment of it. And I think that’s good public policy. The oil resource is something that is supposed to be available for our children, our grandchildren. This is the way you protect it and make sure that happens,” Wielechowski said.
The resolutions are SJR13 in the Senate and HJR17 in the House. The proposal also requires that future dividends be the same or greater than in current law.
If approved by a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate, the constitutional amendment would appear on the next statewide election ballot.
- The multi-year project commissioned by the Arctic Council features indigenous youth gathering and sharing traditions.
- This week, 88 Energy announced they've started setting up a rig on the North Slope to drill a second well for Project Icewine. According to a recent 88 Energy presentation, the company thinks its leases may hold between 1.4 and 3.6 billion barrels of oil.
- The state is fining oil and gas company Hilcorp an additional $160,000 for using nitrogen without permission while working on two wells in 2015 -- the same practice that nearly killed three North Slope workers.
- Roughly 6,000 state workers were unable to log in to their computers, affecting two in five executive branch workers.