The dividend

The Alaska Supreme Court is slated Tuesday to hear arguments on a lawsuit challenging Gov. Bill Walker’s authority to veto more than half of last year’s Permanent Fund dividends because the Legislature did not make enough progress on crafting fiscal plan.

Democratic state Sen. Bill Wielechowski filed the lawsuit and was joined by former Republican Sens. Clem Tillion and Rick Halford. Their first round in court did not go well. Anchorage Superior Court Judge William Morse in November ruled Walker had authority to make the veto.

Tillion tells APRN, and warns lawmakers, that even if the court case goes south, the fight over reducing the dividends will continue.

“I’m opposed to any changes in the Permanent Fund and I’ll fight it,” Tillion said. “And we’ll raise the votes if necessary to put it back the way it is if they change it. The fund belongs to the people. It was given to the people.”

He promises a statewide ballot initiative to return the dividends if the state’s high court does not rule for the plaintiffs.

We have been leery of the dividend since Day One. While the fund was established by Alaskans in 1976 through a constitutional amendment, the dividend provision was adopted by a single vote in 1980. Proponents said it would increase public interest in the fund, protecting it from politicians. It has been the tail wagging the dog ever since when it comes to state fiscal policy.

Over the years, it has evolved into an entitlement and the third rail of Alaska politics. Alaskans have come to believe they should receive $2,000 dividends, no matter the state is going broke.

The time is long past when a rational legislative approach to the dividend could be crafted. Tillion is right. If the lawsuit fails in court, Alaskans probably should decide. Theirs may be the only decision they will accept.





0 Responses to The dividend

  1. Observer June 18, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    The editorial would be more effective if it said that the dividend was established by the Legislature. Saying it was adopted “by a single vote” creates confusion as to who voted.

    And I hate to quibble, but my research indicates that the PFD was established by Chapter 102 of the Session Laws of Alaska of 1982, not in 1980. I was there.

  2. John London June 19, 2017 at 9:44 am

    The resources of Alaska are owned by it’s citizens, and is not private property like most states.

    The citizens “stock dividend” is the land and it’s resources, like it or not.

    The “investment” is just living here and being subject to the false fake high economy and fake ultra high fuel prices for the citizens own oil.

    This is not handouts or socialism.


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