Gov. Mike Dunleavy calls 2 special sessions on the PFD, solving Alaska’s fiscal challenges

The first special session will begin May 20
 Alaska State Capitol
Alaska State Capitol (KTUU)
Published: May. 13, 2021 at 4:54 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 4:55 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With the regular session ending next Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called two 30-day special sessions to try to solve the state’s fiscal challenges and resolve debates over the Permanent Fund dividend.

The first special session starting May 20 will be limited to the following three topics:

“It is clear from my conversations with legislative leaders that more time is needed to complete this year’s budget and to address a long-term, permanent solution to protecting the Permanent Fund and PFD, ” Dunleavy said through a press release. “Nothing is more important than giving Alaskans a long-term solution to our fiscal challenges, and this session is an important first step.”

The second special session will start August 2 and will be limited to discussing:

  • A constitutional spending cap
  • A constitutional amendment to not implement new taxes without approval from Alaska voters
  • Appropriations of federal relief funds, including American Rescue Plan Act funds
  • Potential new statewide revenues

House Speaker Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, released a statement shortly after the governor’s announcement on Thursday afternoon.

“Our coalition put together an operating budget that protects essential services and keeps Alaska moving toward a full economic recovery,” Stutes said. “We stand ready to negotiate with the Senate and get the job done when they complete their work on the budget, and we also maintain our longstanding commitment to finding a way to solve the state’s structural deficit. This work can begin in earnest now that all the parties are finally coming to the table.”

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, has previously said he supports the idea of a dividend-focused special session to resolve the PFD disputes once and for all. He has also advocated for an “all-in” approach for solving the state’s fiscal challenges with everyone giving a little.

On Wednesday, Dunleavy unveiled a proposal to put a new Permanent Fund dividend formula into the Alaska Constitution. The formula would see Alaskans receive a roughly $2,500 dividend in 2022 compared to a $3,500 PFD if the 1982 statutory formula is used. That formula hasn’t been followed since 2015.

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