Dunleavy says he won’t veto ‘partial’ PFD, calls fourth special session

Legislature is set to meet in Juneau on Oct. 1.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he won’t veto the $1,100 Permanent Fund dividend passed by the state Legislature on Tuesday.

In a statement, Dunleavy expressed displeasure with the amount appropriated by the Legislature and noted the Alaska Permanent Fund’s recent growth and the harm the pandemic has done to the state’s economy. Dunleavy had called for an amount of about $2,300 based on a proposed formula supported by the governor and some lawmakers.

Previously, Dunleavy vetoed a $550 PFD passed by the Legislature earlier in the budget-making process. At the time, the Legislature OK’d a plan that split funding for a $1,100 PFD from different sources, which resulted in different vote thresholds for partially funding and fully funding the dividend. The Legislature was unable to pass the fully funded amount.

“While we continue to debate the fiscal future of this state, the people of Alaska need help now,” Dunleavy said in the statement. “On one hand, a veto of this half measure would seem appropriate, but at this stage of the game, that would aid and abet those that don’t care about individual Alaskans, small businesses and the economy.”

Dunleavy said that is why he was opting not to veto “this partial PFD,” but is calling the Legislature back to Juneau for a fourth special session “to get the rest of this year’s PFD” and to complete a long-term fiscal plan. In an executive proclamation issued at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, Dunleavy called for the session to begin at 10 a.m., Oct. 1 in Juneau.

Dividend size and the state’s long-term financial outlook were both subject matters that have loomed over recent legislative sessions.

In mid-August, a bipartisan, bicameral working group released recommendations for solving fiscal problems.

Elements of the comprehensive solution recommended by the group include changing the formula for dividends based on the Permanent Fund’s percent of market value; a constitutional, single-account structure for the fund with draws limited by POMV; budget reductions; new revenues; a spending-cap reform and a several-year transition period among other policy suggestions.

Contact Ben Hohenstatt at 907-308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt