Alaskans will receive an estimated $1,100 dividend under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
Dunleavy announced Tuesday that he would not veto the dividend, after the Legislature approved it. Dunleavy had proposed a higher dividend of $2,350.
“Our state is still dealing with the economic ramifications of this virus, the distractions of employment issues, the lack of available workers and the disruptions to the supply chains,” the governor said. “While we continue to debate the fiscal future of this state, the people of Alaska need help now.”
Dunleavy described the $1,100 as “a partial payment,” which he will seek to increase during a fourth special session, called for Oct. 1.
The Senate passed a House bill Tuesday that included the $1,100 dividend. The projected payment is slightly higher than the $992 dividend issued in 2020.
The $1,100 figure could change in the final accounting. It takes about a month for payments to be processed and sent to Alaskans.
Interior lawmakers react
Republican Sen. Robert Myers of North Pole had voted for higher PFD dividends and did not support the $1,100 payment when the Senate adopted the budget bill Tuesday.
“I don’t see the $1,100 as part of a compromise,” Myers said in an interview Thursday with the News-Miner. “It is a leftover PFD and what is leftover after the state pays its bills.
“I understand the state has the services that the people want,” Myers added. “But at the same time if the PFD becomes the leftover in regards to funding state services, there will never be a push to do those services as efficiently as possible. The PFD, in my mind, is the way for our state to get the proceeds from our natural resources into the hands of private citizens to grow the private economy.”
Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat, informed his constituents of the expected payout.
“I worked with my colleagues in the Senate to understand that a PFD is so important to constituents of the district to pay for food, fuel, college, rent and the basics of living in Alaska and that a zero PFD is a non-starter for me,” Kawasaki said in his email newsletter.
“I am thankful that a slim majority supported this PFD, which is expected to be disbursed just in time for the holidays,” he said.
Kawasaki had advocated for a higher payment. As the Legislature looks toward a fourth special session, Kawasaki said he has co-sponsored legislation for a larger amount.
“I continue to support a higher PFD and will request that the governor add it to the fourth special session,” Kawasaki said.
The dividend payment to Alaskans originates from investment earnings in the Alaska Permanent Fund. Alaska is among a handful of U.S. states with sovereign wealth funds, and the only state to pay out a dividend to residents. Other states exclusively use the funds to pay for education and other state services.