Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, present one of three papers as Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, listens during a Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, present one of three papers as Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, listens during a Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Legislators call for PFD ‘grand compromise’

Protecting the Permanent Fund will mean give and take

The same day a fractured Legislature met for separate special sessions in two different cities, lawmakers in Juneau made the case for a Permanent Fund “grand compromise.”

The special session didn’t convene until the afternoon, but the morning began with presentations by the Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group. Group members were tasked with outlining the impact of a $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend, a $1,600 PFD and a $900 PFD.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, who was present for the meeting, and Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, who phoned in, were the duo tasked with addressing the $3,000 PFD, which is the sum favored by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

“We agree that the permanent fund should be protected,” Kress-Tomkins said. “Both of us recommended a grand compromise.”

Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group Co-Chair Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, right, hands a gavel back to Senate Finance Co-Chair Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, after a meeting of the group to hear presentations at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group Co-Chair Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, right, hands a gavel back to Senate Finance Co-Chair Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, after a meeting of the group to hear presentations at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Hughes and Kreiss-Tomkins each said the Permanent Fund will not be sustainable without changes to the PFD size, state spending and revenues all need to be considered when reaching a solution.

They acknowledged they had differing opinions on which need to be prioritized but said they’re all a piece of the puzzle. Whatever solution is decided should be somehow cemented, possibly with a constitutional amendment, Hughes and Kreiss-Tomkins said, so that the annual “tug-of-war” is ended.

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and Rep. Kelly Merrick, R-Eagle River, who phoned in, presented the impacts of a surplus dividend, which is sometimes called a “leftover dividend.”

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, present one of three papers during a Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, present one of three papers during a Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

It’s a PFD calculated after appropriations have been made for the operating and capital budgets.

The report noted that while PFDs are definitely an important source of disposable income for Alaskans, King Economics speculates more than 90 percent of PFD distributions do not enter the state economy and are put toward college savings accounts, vacations, spent online or pay federal taxes.

Merrick said if a surplus dividend were adopted, she advocates for a spending cap to limit potential government growth.

Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, presented on the possible impact of a $1,600 PFD. That’s about the size of last year’s PFD, which was noted in Wool’s report.

Co-Chair Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, , left, comments as Co-Chair Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, right, and Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, listen during a Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Co-Chair Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, , left, comments as Co-Chair Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, right, and Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, listen during a Bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group at the Capitol on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The presentation outlined six possible sources for funding a $1,600 PFD. These included: Permanent Fund earnings reserve account, the general fund, constitutional budget reserve, instituting a school head tax, abolishing oil tax credits and instituting income tax.

“There’s some common themes and common threads to all of these, so I think there’s some movement going forward,” said Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, shortly before the meeting adjourned.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com . Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Educators and lawmakers trying to determine impacts, next steps of ruling denying state funds for homeschoolers

“Everybody wants to make sure there’s a way to continue supporting homeschool families,” Kiehl says.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 14, 2024

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

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

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

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Most Read