Electronic payment of Permanent Fund dividends, which are expected to exceed $3,200, will start Sept. 20, a few weeks ahead of the usual payout in early October, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Friday.
Eligible applicants opting for direct deposit that have been approved by Sept. 9 will receive a single payment on the 20th, the governor said in a prepared statement. Those filing paper applications and/or requesting paper checks will receive dividends starting the week of Oct. 3.
Dunleavy, who made what he called “full” dividend checks a centerpiece of his political agenda, included some election-year promoting in his announcement even though the payments are less than the $5,500 some state politicians sought.
“Alaskans have waited seven long years to receive a fair and sizeable dividend, and it couldn’t have come at a more important time,” he said. “Alaskans, especially in rural communities, will have to pay extraordinarily high fuel and heating oil bills this winter, and rampant inflation is forcing all Alaskan families to pay more for basic needs, like food and medicine.”
The Permanent Fund dividend was the most contentious budget item during this year’s legislative session, with the Senate at one point proposing a $4,200 dividend payment — based on the state’s statutory formula set in law, but not followed by lawmakers since 2016 — plus an energy relief payment of $1,300. Ultimately the Legislature approved a dividend of about $2,550 plus a $650 energy relief payment.
Lawmakers resisting the higher payment amount said, among other things, while skyrocketing oil prices were a boon to Alaska’s bottom line for the time being, a drop in prices would mean spending reserve funds, imposing taxes and/or making major spending cuts to cover shortfalls.
Dunleavy also used Friday’s purported public service announcement to push his ongoing policy goals
“We need to stop determining what amount the PFD will be using an arbitrary political process,” he said. “Alaskans deserve a constitutional amendment that protects the PFD from politicians and special interests, and sets out a funding formula we can all count on.”
The governor said that while some people were hoping for payments earlier than Sept. 20, the Permanent Fund Division ”needs adequate time to process as many outstanding applications as possible and to screen out fraudulent applications.”
Answers to frequently asked questions about this year’s dividend is at the state Department of Revenue’s website.
• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org.