The bill would draw $1.1 billion from the state’s main savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve — mostly because of the recent collapse in oil prices. That means the state’s savings will be near the minimum it needs to pay the bills.
Alaska’s Legislature has been working to finish the state budget and pass bills in response to the coronavirus, and lawmakers could leave Juneau as soon as Friday.
Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Shower proposed the payment as an amendment to the budget bill. Senators intend for the payments to be made immediately after the bill passes.
Analysts project that if the Legislature were to combine the dividend with COVID-19 relief, the state would have to make the first unplanned draw from permanent fund earnings.
Members of the Republican House minority voted against the budget, citing the lack of PFD funding.
After thinking about it for a year, Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he’s not opposed to putting budget cuts to a vote of the people.
Permanent fund dividends used to be calculated using a formula set out in a 1982 law. But after oil prices fell five years ago, things changed.
The state of Alaska could eliminate funding for much of what it does, and it still wouldn’t cover the projected $1.5 billion budget gap.
In an interview, Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he’s open to working with the Legislature to solve much of Alaska’s long-term budget problem.
Several ballot initiatives and village public safety are among the issues likely to draw attention ahead of the upcoming legislative session.