Cutting the PFD to save it

Alaskans’ bank accounts got a little fatter this week as the state sent out this year’s $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend to every qualified man, woman and child.

It should have been more.

Alaskans have gotten their cut of the state’s oil wealth for decades, that is until the Legislature and our Republican-cum-independent-cum-undeclared-cum independent-again Gov. Bill Walker whacked it in about half – for the third year in a row. That is a lot of money that never made it into the economy.

This year’s dividend alone would have been closer to $3,000 per person if paid out under the state’s normal formula.

The story from Walker is that to save the dividend he had to cut it in half – during a recession. That from a guy who told the Anchorage Daily News during his first gubernatorial bid:

“I have no intention to implement a statewide tax or paying for state government by reducing Permanent Fund dividend checks. If we properly develop our natural resources and put in place a sustainable budget that should not be necessary.”

His cut-to-save logic is fueling a lot of heat in Walker’s re-election bid, with many Alaskans believing the claim in laughable; that state government should be cut further and the dividends – which they see as their money – be restored.

Claiming he saved the dividend, after all, has not put more money in Alaskans’ bank accounts, or made life easier for Alaskans. If anything, it has inflamed those who feel he ripped them off. Walker, et al., will feel their pain in a few weeks.

It will be tough sledding in the November election for those who helped themselves to Alaskans’ dividends; tough sledding, indeed.







One Response to Cutting the PFD to save it

  1. Randy S Griffin Fairbanks Alaska October 6, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    I received my $1,600 paper dividend check in the mail yesterday. I plan to endorse the back side of the PFD check and send it to the Alaska Department of Revenue with a note instructing them to deposit it into the state’s general fund so as to help close the $700 million budget deficit. This is what I have done the past 3 years.

    Alaska is not the only government to hand out checks to citizens. The federal government also has been handing out checks to citizens for many years. There are different categories of federal checks: disability, public assistance, social security, etc.

    Should the federal government hand out a more evenly disbursed universal basic income check to all U.S. citizens? This would be closer to the Alaska model. This should not be available to non-citizens. But American citizens own all assets of the U.S. collectively. They own the Statue of Liberty, the national parks, federal lands, the money in the U.S treasury, all military tanks, aircraft, motor oil, bunny boots and other equipment.

    If everything belongs to us, we the people, why shouldn’t we get a percentage of it on an annual basis? The government could pass a bill that establishes a payout formula that they would have to follow religiously.

    The answer is no, we should not have a federal universal basic income, because there is no surplus. We have a $22 trillion national debt. If we paid out a universal basic income welfare payment to every citizen, then we would have to go further into debt or increase taxes on citizens who work for a living.

    I will not take one penny of PFD money until we have an honest and sustainable Alaska budget surplus. We also need to pay back the Alaska Constitutional Budget Reserve that we sucked down these past 4 years to fill in the yearly deficits. The legislature finally did the right thing by passing SB26 (POMV Permanent Fund bill). This helped tremendously in getting closer to a balanced budget. But we citizens and our representatives still have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get to that wonderful surplus situation. We need more cuts in spending. But if we get it accomplished, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we rightfully earned a dividend payout.


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