Alaska Permanent Fund

A funding bill that includes a $1,100 Permanent Fund dividend for Alaskans is headed to the Senate after House passage.

With two weeks left in the special session, a Senate vote is likely to take place next week, according to Daniel McDonald, press secretary for the Senate Majority. The special session must end by Sept. 14.

The House bill passed 24-16 Tuesday with unanimous support from the Alaska House Coalition. The bill was transmitted Wednesday to the Senate, where it first will be considered in committee.

Republican House Speaker Louise Stutes said the legislation provides “certainty to Alaskans after the dividend was vetoed earlier this summer that much-needed cash will land in their bank accounts this fall.”

She added that “the dividend that found consensus is the most the state can afford to pay until Alaska’s structural budget deficit is resolved, a task we remain committed to taking on in the months ahead.”

Fall dividend payments would arrive later than usual, which typically is in early October, since there is a 30-day window for processing.

The bill contains the following language, as it relates to the Permanent Fund dividend: “The sum of $730,500,000 is appropriated to the dividend fund for the payment of a permanent fund dividend in the amount of approximately $1,100 to each eligible individual and for administrative and associated costs for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, from the following sources: $400,500,000 from the general fund; $330,000,000 from the budget reserve fund.”

But the governor’s office considers the budget reserve to be empty after lawmakers failed to replenish the account for the new fiscal year, which started July 1. If the reserve account cannot be tapped, the PFD amount will drop.

The House funding bill contains other measures. It enables Alaska to accept more federal relief dollars related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bill also has $54 million in tax credits for oil and gas companies.

Contact Linda F. Hersey at 907-459-7575 or lhersey@newsminer.com. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.