House hears bill that would deliver a full PFD now, smaller dividends in the future

Published: May. 22, 2019 at 6:56 PM AKDT
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Legislation has been introduced in the Alaska House of Representatives that would deliver a full statutory Permanent Fund Dividend and change the statutory formula that calculates the PFD.

The size of the 2019 PFD could still change through debate in the House Finance Committee and on the House floor, says Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, the Speaker of the House.

The legislation aims to break a logjam in the Legislature for setting a PFD amount.

House Republicans are adopting a wait-and-see approach to the legislation. Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, is wary of bill that delivers a full PFD that is also contingent on changing the statutory formula.

“We’re supposed to just accept that if you want a full dividend that you have to accept this change, that’s the kind of stuff the public hates, they want us to have robust discussions about both individual conversations,” he said.

Some members of the Senate majority and the governor have said that changing the PFD formula should only occur after a vote of the people.

Edgmon says the issue of the Permanent Fund Dividend needs to be resolved now.

“We have to find a permanent solution to the annual dividend, we simply have to, we can’t continue to allow it to dominate the political landscape here in Juneau and across Alaska,” he said.

The formula change proposed by the House majority would see 25 percent of the annual earnings from the Permanent Fund directed to a dividend, delivering roughly half of what the current statutory formula does now.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R- Anchorage, the Senate President, says her caucus hadn’t seen the bill before it was introduced but that the legislation moves the debate forward.

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