After much debate and amending, the Senate failed to muster the 11 votes necessary to give every Alaskan a full, $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend.
The final vote was 10-8 for passage, with two senators excused.
Those who voted for passage: Sens. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, David Wilson, R-Wasilla, Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, Shelly Hughes, R-Palmer, Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, Danny Olson, D-Golovan, and Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River.
Voting agaiinst: Sens. Chris Birch, R-Anchorage, Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, John Coghill, R-North Pole, Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage.
Sens. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, and Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, were absent.
SB 1002 initially would have given Alaskans a $1,600 dividend, but it was amended to $3,000, which is the amount that would be paid under a 1982 law that set out how the payout was to be calculated. That formula has been ignored for the past three years, first by former Gov. Bill Walker, and then the Legislature.
The good news for full-dividend supporters is that Tuesday’s vote likely is not the last vote on the measure. When the absent senators return another vote could be scheduled and Shower in the past has voiced support for a full dividend.
The argument for the full dividends is that they are required by law and are Alaskans’ rightful share of the state’s oil wealth. The argument against is that the state cannot sustain a full dividend and protect the Permanent Fund’s Earnings Reserve, where the dividend come from, with a full dividend.
The Legislature long ago gave up on the notion of reducing government to match revenues. The fight now over the dividend’s amount is between government-first interests and the it’s-the-people’s-share proponents. Never the twain shall meet.
The House has no dividend in its budget and the last day of the special session is June 14. Also undone: K-12 education funding, and operating, capital and mental health budgets.
It will be interesting to see whether that 11th vote shows up when Shower and Begich return to the Senate. It will be even more interesting to see what political fallout there is for those who voted “nay.”