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Letter to the Editor

Restructure the PFD

To the editor: Much has been said about the budget crisis and the calamitous future that the governor’s vetoes portend. The PFD is nice, but if I am honest, I am in a position to shoulder more of the financial burden to support the state I love. Not everyone is in a position to pay more in support of these programs, and I appreciate that, too. Still, I understand why the governor is sticking to his guns.

The point is worth bearing in mind as we recall the birth of our nation 243 years ago: It is not the place of the executive office to make sweeping redirects of the people’s money without the consent of the governed. Gov. Bill Walker acted outside the intended limits of his office regardless of the virtue of his cause. As pointed out by many legislators, the permanent fund’s revenue is statutory and may be altered by our representatives without amending the Constitution. It ought not to be at the whim of the executive, no matter how noble his intentions may be.

If our state legislators are serious about restoring the budget, which has been shredded by vetoes, they should formally restructure the permanent fund’s allocations. To decry Walker’s circumvention of the PFD while condemning Dunleavy for refusing a budget that relies on that circumvention is dishonest at best and dilutes the debate. The question at hand for the state House and Senate is not whether to override the vetoes and kick the budget crisis down the road. The question ought to be, “Do we want the governor’s office to have power to control the dividend, or should it be resolved by the Legislature?” The rest will follow.

Alaska is a place where our representatives are still the neighbors of their constituents. Talk to them like the neighbors they are and let them know what’s on your mind so they can try to make good decisions on our behalf. Lastly, with Independence Day still fresh, let’s try to give the benefit of the doubt to those with whom we disagree and honestly debate ideas rather than presuppose motivations.

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