Will he or won’t he?
A cynic may tell you it is looking a little iffy for a full, statutory $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend this year.
As Gov. Mike Dunleavy reconsiders some of his $444 million in line-item vetoes, in areas such as University of Alaska cuts, early education and elderly benefits, you have to wonder where the money to fund them again likely will come from.
Some of it could come from the state’s shrinking savings or even the Permanent Fund earnings reserve, but your dividend is an easy and likely source.
The seemingly endless fight over the size of this year’s dividend has been characterized by big-government advocates as nothing more than greedy, selfish Alaskans who want free money versus those who only want what is best for the state. In fact, it has been a fight between those who recognize our state government if bloated beyond hope and various interests that profit from keeping government large and growing larger.
The problem? There is a finite amount of money. If more goes to government it means less for dividends. Think of what government takes from your dividend for its use as a tax.
When the Legislature decided to ignore the 1982 law that specifies how the dividend should be calculated and opted, instead, to make that decision subject to political whim, it did two things. It ensured the eventual demise of the dividend because government will grow to consume it, and it ensured a steady, new supply of money.
Many had hoped Dunleavy’s insistence on the full, $3,000 dividend and deep budget cuts would serve to rein in government by reducing the amount of money available to feed it, but now even groups that support a full dividend are begging Dunleavy to settle for less this year.
We remain hopeful the governor will stay the course and reject the $1,600 dividend the Legislature has sent him for approval in favor of a full $3,000 dividend, but we have our doubts.