Today marked the 20th day of the Special Session, and the PFD debate seems to be no closer to a resolution.
SB 1002, the PFD bill, failed in the Senate today, but it’s not the bill it was yesterday. An amendment to the act changed the value of this year’s PFD back to the statutory calculation amount of around $3,000. The original bill called for a $1,600 dividend. The amendment came after the governor said he would veto SB 1002 if it was passed.
According to the act, the total amount of the PFD, which is estimated to be over $19 billion dollars, would have been pulled from the state’s earnings reserve account. The bill needed 11 votes to pass, but was only able to get 10. Senator Scott Kawasaki was the only interior Senator to vote for the bill. 8 officials voted no, and Fairbanks Senator Click Bishop was especially vocal in his disapproval of the bill. He also spoke on the billions of dollars the legislature has already pulled from the reserve fund and how they have made no progress in paying it back.
"But I just want to remind people that we walked through $12 billion dollars, and the law says that we have to pay that $12 billion dollars back," said Senator Click Bishop. "In my calculations, at a $1- hundred million dollars a year, that only takes 120 years. We haven't even made an attempt yet to pay that back. You want a spending limit; then put a marker down in the operating budget to pay that back, there's your spending limit. But further more I want to make sure that the people of Alaska get a dividend for now and into the future, and I ain't going to be part impartial of walking through $19 billion dollars. I'm a no vote."
Governor Mike Dunleavy once again voiced his disapproval of the Legislature's action on social media, stating the earnings reserve account has more than $19 billion dollars to pay a full statutory PFD. He went on to say, "Alaskans have demanded politicians stop using the PFD as a political piggy bank."
Both the Senate and the House are scheduled for floor session tomorrow morning.