Dunleavy decision on PFD could affect timing of dividend payment

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute on Monday. Dunleavy is weighing whether to sign a bill that would provide permanent fund dividends of $1,600. If Dunleavy vetoes that amount, Alaskans could receive dividends later than normal this year. (Photo by Kirsten Swann/Alaska Public Media)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is weighing whether to sign a bill he received on Wednesday that would provide a $1,600 permanent fund dividend this year.

If Dunleavy vetoes that amount, Alaskans could receive dividends later than normal this year.

In a statement, Dunleavy said he isn’t planning to call the Alaska Legislature back into a third special session immediately. If he vetoes the PFD funding in House Bill 2001, the Legislature would need to meet again to ensure PFDs get out this year.

Dunleavy, a Republican, has until Aug. 30 to sign the bill, or to veto all or parts of it.

Historically, the state Department of Revenue needed to know the PFD amount by Aug. 31 in order to issue dividends in the first week of October.

If Dunleavy vetoes the PFD amount in the bill, he can’t call the Legislature back into a special session in time for dividends to go out on the normal schedule. That’s because state lawrequires the governor to provide 30 days notice for a special session. However, the Legislature could call itself into a special session at any time.

State law allows dividends to be sent as late as Dec. 31.

Dunleavy prefers a full dividend under the formula set in a 1982 state law, which would be roughly $3,000. But the House of Representatives and the Senate passed a smaller amount. They say they wanted to stay within a limit on spending from permanent fund earnings set in a law enacted last year.

The bill that would fund the dividend also would reverse most of Dunleavy’s line-item vetoes.

While legislative leaders have said they expect there to be a PFD this year, that will depend on Dunleavy and the Legislature agreeing on an amount. Dividends have been issued each of the past 37 years.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham independent, and Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, have proposed a third special session focused on the sustainability of permanent fund earnings and dividends.

Dunleavy sent a letter to the leaders thanking them for the proposal. He wrote in the letter that he’s “weighing all options available for my Administration to continue the dialogue and work with the legislature on these matters.”

Dunleavy signed Senate Bill 2002 on Thursday, which funds the capital budget and maintains funding for Power Cost Equalization, college scholarships and other programs. He vetoed portions of the bill.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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