Dunleavy reiterates dividend push in session’s last weeks
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday reiterated his push for payments of at least $3,700 to residents this year, with the legislative session in its last weeks and the size of the annual dividend check paid to residents still unresolved.
The House in its version of the budget approved one-time “energy relief” payments of $1,300 plus a dividend check of about $1,250. The Senate Finance Committee is weighing a dividend of about $2,500 as it works on a draft budget plan.
Annual dividends to residents traditionally have been paid with earnings from the state’s oil-wealth fund, the Alaska Permanent Fund. But lawmakers in 2018 also began using earnings to help pay for government and sought to limit withdrawals. A longstanding formula for calculating dividends was last used in 2015, amid deficits, and a new formula has not been adopted. Lawmakers instead have been setting the annual payout.
If the old formula were followed, checks would be in the $4,200 range, according to the Legislative Finance Division.
Dunleavy has proposed a supplemental dividend of about $1,250, his office has said. He also proposed a check of around $2,500 that he said would be in line with splitting what is withdrawn from earnings 50/50 between checks and government.
He told reporters it was his expectation that there would be a “substantial” dividend this year. Last year’s check was $1,114.
House Speaker Louise Stutes said she was happy with the budget that passed the House.
Senate President Peter Micciche said he believes a so-called 50/50 split is “the floor” for the Senate.
Dunleavy is seeking reelection this year, and nearly all legislative seats are up for election, too. The state, after years of deficits, faces a rosier revenue forecast amid high oil prices.
The regular session is set to end by May 18. The state Constitution, however, provides an option to extend up to 10 days with sufficient votes.