Alaska House passes a $1,605 PFD, 'compromise' bill heads onto the Senate

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Alaska House of Representatives has passed "compromise" legislation that would deliver a roughly $1,605 Permanent Fund dividend in 2019.

For Alaskans to receive the PFD set by the House, the Senate would need to pass the same figure and the governor would need to sign the bill into law.

That however may prove unlikely as the governor reaffirmed his commitment to deliver a full $3,000 statutory dividend in an interview with Channel 2.

On Friday morning, House Bill 2003 was passed 22-12, mostly along caucus lines.

Members of the House minority again pushed for a full $3,000 dividend through an amendment to the bill. The amendment vote failed on Thursday along caucus lines 10-20.

“It is my belief that the people know how to spend their money themselves better than the government,” said Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla.

The House majority has called a $1,605 dividend a "compromise" figure between a $3,000 dividend and accepting some of the governor's vetoes.

On Wednesday, the House passed House Bill 2001 that would reverse roughly 75% of the governor's vetoes.

"This $1,600 dividend depends on a reverse sweep," said Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, who then explained that lawmakers would also need to approve dipping into savings to get the PFD figure above $1,336.

The $1,605 PFD would not overdraw from the Earnings Reserve Account, the account that collects earnings from the Permanent Fund, under the framework set up by Senate Bill 26.

It would however be roughly half of the figure that would be delivered to qualifying Alaskans if the decades old statutory formula was followed.

Rumors abound in the State Capitol of a plan for the Legislature to pass a $1,600 PFD now and a $1,400 PFD during a third special session. The second appropriation would be contingent on a debate and changing of the formula that calculates the dividend.

"I've heard of the discussions, I'd have to see what it looks like," said the governor who has called for a statewide vote before the formula is changed. "I can't give a commitment to support or not support a bill until I see what it looks like."

As of Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Senate majority said the caucus was not aware of that plan.

“The Senate Minority is working towards a compromise that funds a dividend and restores most of Governor Dunleavy’s budget vetoes," read a prepared state from Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage. "I would be supportive of a $1600 payment now and a $1400 payment in the Spring, as some have discussed, if there was a long-term change to the statute to ensure a sustainable dividend in the future, and restoration of the bulk of Governor Dunleavy’s recent devastating vetoes.”

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