Democrats in the House Once Again Say No to Full Dividend - P.O.W. Report

Monday, May 16, 2022

Democrats in the House Once Again Say No to Full Dividend




(JUNEAU) – On a vote of 18 to 22, the House failed to concur with the Senate changes to the operating and capital budget bill (HB 281), 14 of 17 House Republicans were joined by four members of the House Majority. 

The budget bill passed back to the House earlier this week provided a full statutory dividend for the first time in six years.  Former Governor Bill Walker vetoed a portion of the dividend and turned the PFD into a political albatross that has confounded the Legislature ever since and left Alaskans out in the cold.

In addition to a statutory dividend, the budget passed back to the House also included full funding for K-12 education, substantial funding to address the state’s significant deferred maintenance backlog and a robust capital budget with essential infrastructure projects.  

After days of intense pressure from special interest groups, the House Majority sided with them and turned their backs on regular Alaskans.

Rep. Cathy Tilton, the House Minority Leader (R-Chugiak/MatSu) stated, “There were no real winners today, but certainly average Alaskans were the big losers. It is unfortunate that the special interests are able sway so many members while disregarding the majority that sent us here.  Today’s vote illustrates, yet once again, why the legislative session needs to be relocated to the road system.  It has never been clearer that a constitutional convention is our only real hope of making the changes necessary for a stable fiscal plan the House Republican Caucus and many Alaskans have been asking for.”

Must Read Alaska:

After a couple of hours of debate on Saturday, the Alaska House of Representatives voted down the full Permanent Fund dividend, which was embedded as an appropriation item in the operating budget sent from the Senate to the House for concurrence.

For years, the Legislature has said it could not pay a full dividend to Alaskans because there was not enough money in the budget, what with the lower prices of oil. But this year, State coffers are flush with money, oil prices are high, the budget is one of the largest in history, and the capital budget is the largest in a decade, and yet the dividend was voted down by the House. Opponents of the larger PFD who spoke on the House floor said it was a bad use of the state’s money. Rep. David Eastman said the budget was too big and was unsustainable. Rep. James Kaufman made a similar argument, saying he wants a fiscal plan. Rep. Bart LeBon said the budget doesn’t balance. Rep. Chris Kurka said that without a guarantee there would be no state funds spent on abortions, he would be a no vote. [...]

Also voting against the full PFD were Reps. Matt Claman, Harriet Drummond, David Eastman, Bryce Edgmon, Zack Fields, Sara Hannan, Grier Hopkins, Andy Josephson, James Kaufman, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Chris Kurka, Calvin Schrage, Liz Snyder, Ivy Spohnholz, Andi Story, Louise Stutes, Geran Tarr, Steve Thompson, and Adam Wool.

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