Governor Mike Dunleavy says he’s optimistic the legislative session will end on time and approve a substantial Permanent Fund Dividend.
At a press conference Thursday, he said inflation and rising oil prices make the PFD especially vital this year.
“In my discussions with legislators this year, they see the urgency and the need to make sure we get a PFD that’s pretty substantial,” he said.
Dunleavy has advocated for a PFD of at least $3,700.
Earlier this month, the House sent a $7.7 billion budget to the Senate. It proposes a $1,300 energy credit and a PFD of around $1,250. At a media briefing this afternoon, House speaker Louise Stutes, a Republican from Kodiak, said she’s happy with that proposal.
“That’s $2,500 — that’s nothing to sneeze at,” she said. “At the same time, we’re paying the state’s bills. We’re paying the oil tax credits that we owe up to date. We’re taking care of some of the deferred maintenance. We’re putting money in our savings account. We’re doing a good job for the people of this state.”
But the governor thinks the Legislature can both save money and give Alaskans a larger PFD.
The state has a projected $3.4 billion surplus this year and next year, and Dunleavy wants to save some of that money.
“We know that oil will go up, we don’t know when,” he said. “We know it will go down, we don’t know when. Being able to bank some of this windfall we have now, I think most legislators we’ve talked to think it’s a good idea.”
The governor says he’s also optimistic about the Alaska Reads Act, which would create statewide reading policies for kindergarten through third grade. The Senate approved it earlier this month. He’s also hopeful lawmakers will pass public safety bills related to sexual assault and victim protection that he introduced in February.
The legislative session is set to end on May 18.