Senate passes bill that would place $1,000 cap on Permanent Fund Dividend

 Alaska State Capitol
Alaska State Capitol (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 6, 2016 at 9:44 PM AKDT
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A bill that would set a $1,000 cap on the permanent fund dividend starting next year has passed the Senate by a vote of 14 to 5.

Senate Bill 128 would keep the limit in place through 2019, after which the yearly checks would be based on how much the state collects in revenue from natural resource royalties. Most lawmakers supported the move while a few expressed concerns.

“As an overall economy we are faltering right now,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River. “We have credit rating agencies from across our nations looking at Alaska and telling the general business population that we are on negative watch.”

“I made a promise to my constituents that I would not cut their PFD's,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. “I’ve run for my seat three times and every time it’s a big issue that my constituents ask me about and every time. I've said I would do my best to protect your permanent fund.”

In a statement released Monday evening, Governor Walker praised the Senate’s approval of the bill:

“I thank members of the Senate for taking this important vote to put Alaska on the path for a sustainable future. We recognize the concern some have raised about the need for balance, which we have addressed through the remaining pieces of the New Sustainable Alaska Plan. Restructuring the Permanent Fund is the cornerstone of this plan, and a significant portion of it, but make no mistake—the work to put Alaska on a sustainable path is far from over. I applaud the Senate for taking this bold step.”

The bill will still need the House’s approval before it is passed on to the Governor’s desk. The next House floor session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday.