William Seward statue

The statue of William Seward was placed in the plaza in front of the Alaska Capitol in Juneau in 2017. Seward was the Secretary of State in 1867 who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has agreed to delay by two weeks the start of a summer special session by the Legislature that will focus on fiscal policy, including the governor's proposal to place the Permanent Fund Dividend program in the state Constitution.

Dunleavy’s office announced Thursday that the special session will begin Aug. 16 after the governor received a written request from legislative leadership asking that he push back the original Aug. 2 start date. In a formal request to the governor, the Senate president and minority leader, as well as the House speaker and minority leader asked for the extra time to prepare.

“The governor also modified the call to include the proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 6, HJR 7) to constitutionalize the PFD and the power cost equalization program,” according to a statement from Dunleavy’s office.

“While Alaskans are out enjoying summer, they are also paying close attention to the Legislature because they rightfully expect them to move forward on a plan that protects both the PFD and the Permanent Fund in the constitution and that can be put before voters in the 2022 general election,” Dunleavy said. 

“We can’t wait any longer. The fund is sitting at $81 billion, more than enough to pay sizable PFDs to Alaskans recovering from the pandemic. The members of the House and Senate Comprehensive Fiscal Plan Working Group are reportedly making progress on recommendations that can be presented to the Legislature at the start of the upcoming special session.”

An executive proclamation signed Thursday by Dunleavy states that the Legislature will reconvene to address:

• “HJR 6, SJR 5, or similar resolutions proposing amendments” to the state Constitution that relate to an appropriation limit, and “relating to the Constitutional Budget Reserve fund.”

• “HJR 7 or SJR 6, proposing amendments” to the state Constitution that relate to the Alaska Permanent Fund, appropriations from the Alaska Permanent Fund, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend and power cost equalization.”

• An act or acts relating to measures for increasing state revenues.

The working group of lawmakers has been focused on developing fiscal policy to present to the full Legislature and governor. The Legislature will convene to discuss the findings and recommendations.

“The working group is considering a wide range of options — from constitutional amendments to statutory changes — to make essential changes to how we collect revenue, spend dollars, fund essential programs and deliver dividends to Alaskans,” Rep. Grier Hopkins of Fairbanks said recently in a newsletter to constituents.

The working group announced it will be taking public testimony at meetings scheduled across the state. On Saturday, lawmakers will hear comments from residents in Fairbanks from 1-4 p.m. at the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office, 1292 Sadler Way.

The Alaska Department of Revenue also is expected to present updated revenue and spending projections to the working group before members finalize recommendations.

Contact Linda F. Hersey at 907-459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.