Dunleavy threatens veto over lower Dividend plan

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JUNEAU (AP) - Update 2:50 p.m.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is issuing a veto threat for a bill that proposes a $1,600 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

Dunleavy called the proposal, introduced in the Senate Monday, a nonstarter and says he'd veto it if it passed.

Dunleavy campaigned on a full dividend payout and has said no changes should be made to the dividend formula without a vote of the people. The formula has not been followed the last three years amid an ongoing budget deficit.

Some lawmakers say the dividend calculation is outdated and unsustainable.

Last year, the Legislature sought to limit what could be taken from permanent fund earnings to pay for government and dividends. The withdrawal amount for the upcoming fiscal year is $2.9 billion. A full dividend alone would cost $1.9 billion

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Update 2:15 p.m.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon says he thinks there would be support in the Alaska House to act on a $1,600 permanent fund dividend.

A Senate bill introduced Monday proposes such a dividend. Senate debate on the proposal, including possible amendments, is expected as early as Tuesday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said lawmakers should follow a longstanding dividend calculation, which estimates suggest would put the dividend around $3,000 this year. But some lawmakers say the calculation is unsustainable.

The dividend has been reduced the last three years amid an ongoing budget deficit. Last year's capped payout was $1,600.

If the Legislature passed a reduced dividend and Dunleavy rejected it, Edgmon says he doesn't think there are votes for an override. He says such a scenario almost certainly would prompt another special session.

Update 10:10 a.m. The Alaska Senate plans to introduce legislation calling for a $1,600 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend this year.

Senate President Cathy Giessel called the proposed amount "doable," and consistent with last year's payout. But she noted the bill could be amended. It's expected to be on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday for debate.

Giessel says she has no way of knowing what the final outcome will be.

If the existing dividend calculation were followed, a full payout would be around $3,000 this year. Payouts have been reduced the last three years amid an ongoing budget deficit.

Whatever passes the Senate would have to go to the House. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said he thinks the existing calculation should be followed and not changed without a vote of the people.

Original Story 9:30 a.m. The Alaska Senate is expected to introduce legislation aimed at breaking a logjam that has bogged down the special session.

A bill dealing with Alaska Permanent Fund dividends is expected to be introduced Monday and scheduled for an initial hearing. Senate President Cathy Giessel said last week she couldn't say what the final amount settled on would be, since bills are subject to amendment on the Senate floor.

Disagreements over how to handle the dividend have stalled progress on a state operating budget. Some legislators, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, are adamant that a longstanding dividend calculation should be followed. Others say the formula is outdated and unsustainable.

The new bill is an effort to disentangle the dividend from the budget. A prior effort by the House to do that faltered.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



 
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