Governor proposes PFD land deal, lottery in annual address

Published: Jan. 27, 2020 at 1:59 PM AKST
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Gov. Michael Dunleavy delivered his second annual State of the State address on Monday evening, the speech set out the governor’s agenda for the year ahead and provides guidance to legislators for how to enact his long-term vision.

Dunleavy spoke about introducing an inspector general position, getting Alaska to 50% renewable energy by 2025 and tackling crime through five new bills:

  • One bill would create a process for sex offenders to be removed from an online registry after a June Supreme Court decision.
  • Another bill would create additional training for Village Police Officers.
  • A third would make assaulting a corrections officer an aggravating factor during sentencing.
  • A fourth would allow pretrial officers to make arrests with or without a warrant.
  • A fifth bill cleans up and clarifies sex trafficking and human trafficking statutes, bringing them in line with federal law.

The governor also said that he plans to introduce some novel revenue-raising ideas, including a statewide lottery.

“Forty-five states have lotteries in place, and its past time for Alaskans and visitors to have the option to individually contribute to fixing Alaska’s fiscal issue,” the governor said.

"We'll see what happens, the lottery is an interesting one," said Rep. Lance Pruitt, a Republican from Anchorage who is the minority leader in the House of Representatives. Pruitt said Dunleavy laid out his budget vision during the speech and touted some of the state’s recent economic success.

“He highlighted our timber, and some of our minerals and the need to get those to market,” he said.

Sen. Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat who sits as the Senate minority leader, said the speech was optimistic but he would need to study the lottery proposal closely and "look who it disproportionately impacts in a negative way."

Another revenue plan would allow Alaskans to trade in their annual Permanent Fund dividend check twice its value to be used toward buying public land.

"The ability to own land is a core American value – something that has been denied Alaskans for too long. In fact, this practice in Alaska of not distributing its land overturns over 200 years of a core American belief and right to private ownership,” the governor said during his address.

Begich said he was interested to see the governor proposing new revenue ideas and "that one looks like one worth spending some time on."

The governor did not discuss introducing any broad-based taxes such as a statewide sales tax or income tax to fill a $1.5 billion deficit.

The House majority caucus spoke to the media after the governor's address and signaled other conversations would need to take place before introducing new revenues, including whether the Permanent Fund dividend formula should be changed.

“If we don't solve the dividend problem, it will always muddy the water on what exactly we are looking for on a deficit,” said, Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage.

(App users, to watch the livestream, follow this link to Gavel Alaska's YouTube Live video).

Courtesy KTOO / 360 North.