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Alaska legislature forms group to solve PFD situation

A view of the Alaska State Capitol building in Juneau.
A view of the Alaska State Capitol building in Juneau.(KTVF)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 4:33 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Tuesday, July 6th, the Alaska legislature announced the formation of a fiscal policy working group designed to find a long-term solution for the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD).

The group is composed of eight members - four from the Senate and four from the House of Representatives.

Four Democrats, three Republicans and one Independent sit on the group.

The first meeting took place Wednesday, where Democratic Senator Lyman Hoffman struck a hopeful note about the group’s mission. “It is, could be, a turning point in Alaska’s history. The dividend has been a stumbling block for over seven years. Taxes have been a stumbling block. Drawing funds from several pots throughout the last 15 years or so has changed the dynamic of how the legislature works, and I believe that we have the opportunity here to change that course,” he said.

In a press release, Governor Mike Dunleavy applauded the move, saying, “A solution requires involvement from the Alaskan public through a Constitutional Amendment, and protecting the PFD from annual political fights and bargains.”

From the Interior, Democratic Senator Scott Kawasaki serves in the group.

In a statement, Kawasaki said he is honored to have been selected, and that he is optimistic the group can forge a new fiscal policy.

Republican Representative Kevin McCabe echoed Hoffman’s sentiments. He said, “We need to find a way to overcome the inertia to do nothing. I hope this committee is a good first step. We have done nothing for too long, and I just think the state needs us right now and I sure hope that we can find our path forward and come to some reasonable, compromised solutions.”

According to Kawasaki, it is unknown at this time how long the group will operate.

The state legislature is scheduled to convene for special session in August.

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