Governor to sign bill Monday, but uncertainty remains over whether he’ll veto PFD amount

Governor to sign bill Monday, but uncertainty remains over whether he’ll veto PFD amount

Alaska’s governor has several options available to him.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office announced Friday that the final bill to be passed out of the special legislative session will be signed Monday.

House Bill 2001 contains money for both for the state’s operating budget and the Permanent Fund Dividend. HB 2001 allocates a $1,600 PFD amount, rather than the $3,000 Dunleavy prefers.

It’s not clear what action Dunleavy will take regarding the PFD, and his office did not immediately respond to comment.

The governor has several options when it comes to trying to get a full $3,000 PFD — which he has campaigned on and so far has not compromised on — all them fraught with further political turmoil.

Dunleavy can line-item veto the $1,600 PFD appropriation from the bill and then call the Legislature into a third special session, demanding the full amount be passed. However that option runs the risk of the Legislature still not passing a full PFD and no dividend being allocated come October, when it is normally distributed.

The governor could sign the bill with the $1,600 PFD amount, and then call the Legislature into special session, demanding that the remainder of the funds be allocated. That would again run the risk of the Legislature simply not passing a bill at all or allocating less than the governor promised to voters.

It’s also possible that Dunleavy could sign the bill as is and not call the Legislature to special session, leaving this year’s PFD at $1,600. That last option would be questionable politically for the Republican governor among his conservative base, given he campaigned on a $3,000 PFD with additional back-payments for cuts to the dividend in previous years, and has made that a cornerstone of his administration.

Juneau Democratic Sen. Jessie Kiehl told the Empire he thinks the most likely scenario is that Dunleavy will sign HB 2001, but then call the Legislature back into special session, demanding the rest of the PFD.

“He’s approved parts of the bill so that means he’s not going to veto the bill entirely,” Kiehl said.

Kiehl added, “The Legislature reached an incredibly broad, incredibly bipartisan agreement on what’s necessary for Alaskans,” on the budget. “I’m glad the governor has finally seen some light,” in terms of funding some state programs, Kiehl said.

When HB 2001 was passed by the Alaska Legislature last month, Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, said the bill reversed about 75 percent of the governor’s original $444 million in vetoes from the state budget.

In Friday’s press release announcing the signing of HB 2001, the governor’s office said that funds for Online with Libraries and Live Homework Help would be restored. Those programs would receive $670,900 and $138,200 respectively, totaling $809,100 in total funds.

“Like funds restored earlier in the week for Head Start, Early Childhood Grants and other early learning programs, these decision were made after significant input from Alaskans,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “While we hoped to have these issues cleared up months ago, it’s important we announce these items now before the start of the school year.”

Facing public pressure and a recall effort, the governor restored funds for Head Start and Early Childhood Grants earlier this week, saying at the time that his vetoes had been part of an effort to start a conversation with Alaskans about what they valued most.

A campaign to recall the governor began at the end of July and according to the campaign’s website, has already collected enough signatures to complete the first portion of that effort. The recall campaign needs 28,501 signatures in order to submit an application to the state Division of Elections. The Recall Dunleavy website says that over 29,000 signatures have been collected in the two weeks since the campaign began.

The governor signed the other bill to come out of the Legislature during the special session on Aug. 8. That bill, Senate Bill 2002, contained money for the state capital budget, including several state programs like the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Power Cost Equalization. However, Dunleavy vetoed over $34 million in funds from that bill, including $10 million for addiction treatment facilities.

In Friday’s press release, the governor’s office said that Dunleavy “hoped to have HB 2001 completed this week,” but that “a thorough examination and review of the bill is still being finalized.”


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 7

Here’s what to expect this week.

This photo shows a notice to quit form, which is a first step in the long process of evictions that the Alaska Court System hopes to make easier with a grant-supported Eviction Diversion Initiative. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Grant-supported program could mean fewer eviction cases in Alaska’s courts

Eviction diversion program seeks to provide resources before a case is filed.

Supporters of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wait for an opportunity to talk to her at her newly Juneau campaign headquarters Thursday evening at Kootznoowoo Plaza. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Murkowski opens up at Juneau HQ debut

Senator chats with supporters about U.S. vs. Belgium voting, moose chili and Project Veritas

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Senate candidate Shoshana Gungurstein stars in a campaign sign within view of the Alaska governor’s mansion. Gungurstein, an independent, got exposure this week for being a Hollywood actress under a different last name after questions about her past went unanswered throughout the campaign. She is one of 19 candidates seeking to be among the four selected in next Tuesday’s primary to compete in the November general election. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Senate candidate sheds more light on background

Shoshana Gungurstein responds at length to recent report on past film career.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Drug arrest made in Skagway

Police say a suspicious package was intercepted.

This late-April photo shows a damaged sticker on a door at Thunder Mountain High School reminding people to social distance and wear masks inside the building. Masks will not be required in school buildings this year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday Aug. 12, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

From left, Kelsey Dean, watershed scientist with the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, and Kaagwaan Eesh Manuel Rose-Bell of Keex’ Kwáan watch as crew members set up tools to drag a log into place. Healthy salmon habitat requires woody debris, typically provided by falling branches and trees, which helps create deep salmon pools and varied stream structure. (Courtesy Photos / Mary Catharine Martin)
 
The SalmonState: Bringing the sockeye home

Klawock Indigenous Stewards and partners are working to a once prolific sockeye salmon run.

Most Read