ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy has announced an economic plan that he says he hopes will help Alaskans during the coronavirus pandemic, with a specific focus on monetary support for residents.
“If Alaskans are unable to work and earn a living, unable to pay their rent, to buy food, to buy diapers for their children," he said, "then we have failed to account for the many hardships man Alaskans are currently facing."
The governor's plan, Alaskans COVID-19 Economic Stabilization Plan for Alaska, calls on the Alaska legislature to immediately authorize payment of the remaining $1,306 that could've come with the 2019 permanent fund dividend payments for each qualifying resident.
“This will be the quickest way to get cash in the hands of Alaskans so they can pay their rent, buy gas, keep on with their daily lives,” Dunleavy said. He added that he expects to get the payments out in April.
Additionally, small businesses may now get help from lenders through small business bridge loans. These loans, Dunleavy said, will be obtainable at local lending institutions to ensure business owners and Alaskan workers can withstand the economic crisis and continue to pay employees while waiting for assistance from the Small Business Administration.
Interest rates on the loans will match those given by the SBA, and the state will guarantee the loans as well.
A $1 billion fund has also been established for disaster relief, Dunleavy said, and unemployment insurance is being extended by the state.
As for where the money is coming from, Dunleavy said: “The funds will come from existing accounts within the government that we already have in state hands."
Dunleavy will also be signing an executive order that says for anyone who has a mortgage in which the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation is an investor, foreclosure and eviction activity will be suspended on occupied properties for the next 60 days. This is as a result of economic hardship created by COVID-19.
Regarding the agency’s rental program specifically, AHFC’s Stacy Barnes wrote in an email Friday that the eviction changes are "for renters in housing specifically subsidized by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, where the basis of the eviction would include nonpayment of rent from a substantial decrease in household or business income caused by layoffs or a reduction in work hours, operating hours or consumer demand, or increase in out-of-pocket medical expenses.”
Beyond that, Dunleavy is authorizing $75 million to underwrite emergency health care facilities and personal protective equipment, another $100 million will be used in the expected increase in state workforce and public health workload to combat this virus. Portions of that money will also be available to retrofit state offices with health safety equipment.
“We need our state workers protected and safe," Dunleavy said, "and we need them to continue the functions of state government.”
To watch the full press conference, watch the video above or the Facebook live stream below.
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