Dividend payments expected in 30 days

Alaskans can expect to see their Permanent Fund Dividends in about 30 days following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s announcement he will not veto a bill allocating $1,100 for the payments.

Brian Fechter, deputy commissioner at the Department of Revenue, said in an email the PFD division was working as fast as possible, and 30 calendar days remains the estimated distribution time.

According to DOR, the state paid 630,937 dividends in 2020 amounting to more than $625 million. The bill signed by the governor split funding for the dividend between two sources — a move that remains a point of contention between Dunleavy and the Legislature — but the total amount spent for this year’s payment is $730.5 million.

The governor signed the bill Tuesday evening after its passage in the Alaska Senate that same day. Thirty calendar days from Sept. 15, is Oct. 13.

Several lawmakers, and Dunleavy, voiced deep frustration at the amount of the dividend, arguing the state should be following at statute from the 1980s which this year would have allocated a PFD of about $3,800. The governor submitted a bill proposing a $2,350 dividend citing the Alaska Permanent Fund’s strong growth over the past year, but that would have required lawmakers to break their own law limiting draws from the fund.

[Senate passes budget bill, $1,100 PFD hours before deadline]

However, there is a strong resistance to overdrawing the earnings of the Permanent Fund that has strong bipartisan and bicameral support. Speaking on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said there were a number of funding statutes on the books and the state has constitutional obligations to fund programs that support health, safety and schools.

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, said he found that argument unconvincing and said the Legislature should first allocate dividends based on the formula from the 1980s and use the remaining money for state services. Those state services would include things like police, infrastructure maintenance and schools.

The governor Tuesday called a fourth special session of the Legislature for Oct. 1, to debate “an act or acts relating to a fiscal plan.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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