Alaska Legislature passes budget bill with $1,600 PFD

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Alaska Senate and House have passed a budget bill that would restore the majority of the governor’s vetoes with a roughly $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend.

During a press teleconference called late Monday afternoon, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said it was a "dark day" for supporters of a full, $3,000 PFD, but didn't explicitly say whether he would veto the bill.

He said that he was "disappointed" in the $1,600 PFD payout contained in the recently-passed House Bill 2001, and said that he'll be making a decision on whether or not to veto the diminished amount in the next couple of days.

Dunleavy said that he wants to determine whether the remaining $1,400 of the $3,000 statutory PFD funding will be spent entirely on government services.

HB 2001 passed through the Senate 17-1 with Republican Sens. Shelley Hughes and Mike Shower excused from the call.

The amendment for a $1,600 dividend figure narrowly passed 11-9. The dividend figure is the same as one passed by the Alaska House of Representatives earlier in the month.

The governor has consistently called for a full statutory dividend that would roughly equate to $3,000 for eligible Alaskans. He has said that lawmakers need to follow the law that calculates the size of the PFD.

At a news conference on Monday, however, the governor indicated that there could be a path forward without a payout of the entire amount.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, a long-time supporter of a full PFD, said on the Senate floor that he didn't believe it was the last opportunity to deliver a statutory dividend in 2019.

Included in the bill is over $300 million in funding for items vetoed by the governor. $110 million would go back to the University of Alaska, nearly $80 million would go to Medicaid and $5 million would go to the ferry system.

The Senate added the 50% of school bond debt reimbursement vetoed by the governor into the legislation, giving local governments funds for school construction costs.

The legislation returned to the House late Monday afternoon and passed 23-15 with lawmakers voting to concur with the Senate's changes.

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