Alaskans will be getting their permanent fund dividend checks early this year –– in less than two months to be exact.

In an announcement made at the end of his news conference Wednesday evening, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the plan to distribute the annual oil wealth payout to Alaskans on July 1 –– approximately three months prior to the typical October release date.

Dunleavy said Alaskans need the money now rather than later.

"We're in extraordinary times. We need to make sure that the people of Alaska have cash in their hands to help with this economy," he said. "I can't think of a better time to do it than now."

This does not mean that two dividends will be distributed. It instead means that a payment that would typically show up in Alaskans' bank accounts in early October will now be showing up a lot sooner.

The Legislature approved a $1,000 dividend in March before moving into extended recess due to COVID-19.

While the Legislature has the constitutional power of appropriation and the governor does not have the power to set the amount of the dividend, he does possess the power to choose when it is distributed.

July 1 is the beginning of fiscal 2021.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.