(Juneau, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy Thursday introduced a budget bill to provide for a $2,350 Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and fully fund Alaska’s student scholarship programs. Following the release of the legislative Fiscal Policy Working Group’s report, and conversations between the Dunleavy administration and legislative leadership about their interest in working toward a long-term fiscal solution this session, the governor took action to amend the call of the third legislative special session by including this funding vehicle.
“Alaskans are still in recovery mode from the economic impacts of the pandemic. With this in mind, and following recent encouraging conversations with legislators, my administration has put forth a vehicle for the legislature to fund the PFD and student scholarships – two critical programs that directly impact Alaskans,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We recognize there may be other appropriations the legislature will consider as we work collaboratively to finalize the FY 22 budget in this special session; but I am committed to ensuring Alaskans get a fair share of their resource wealth.”
The budget bill includes critical appropriations to help the legislature finalize a structured fiscal solution for Alaska, provide Alaskans with an equitable distribution of the state’s resource wealth, and fully fund student scholarship programs:
- $1.53 billion for the payment of the 2021 PFD, providing an estimated $2,350 per eligible Alaskan
- $11.7 million to Alaska Performance Scholarship Awards
- $6.4 million to Alaska Education Grants
- $3.3 million to WWAMI Medical Education
- $1.47 billion one-time transfer from the earnings reserve account to the constitutional budget reserve
The state’s scholarship programs and the Power Cost Equalization Endowment Fund were two components of the budget process that failed to pass the legislature earlier this year. On August 12, the Superior Court determined the PCE fund is not subject to Article IX, Section 17(d) of the Alaska Constitution that moves the fund into the Constitutional Budget Reserve for future appropriation. With clarity from the court, Governor Dunleavy immediately authorized the funding to be distributed to the utilities that provide electricity to the 90,000 residents in rural Alaska.
Earlier this week, the legislative Fiscal Policy Working Group released their report, in which they identified several solutions including: constitutionally protecting the Permanent Fund Dividend, allocating 50% of the annual Permanent Fund earnings draw to pay dividends, establishing an enforceable government spending limit, and leveraging a small portion of the Permanent Fund’s earnings windfall as one-time bridge funding to implement a comprehensive fiscal solution.
“I want to thank the Fiscal Policy Working Group for their dedication and hard work over the past six weeks. They had a difficult assignment and a very compressed timeline in which to work. I’m impressed with the thoughtful solutions the members have put forward for legislative consideration and it provides an excellent launching point for this special session,” said Governor Dunleavy. “In my meeting with the four legislative caucus leaders yesterday, everyone agreed that we must take action this session to resolve these issues for the long-term.”
Click here for additional information on Governor Dunleavy’s budget bill.