FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2016
Bill to Constitutionally Protect the Permanent Fund Dividend Moves Through Committee Process
JUNEAU – Senate Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by Senator Bill Wielechowski passed the Senate State Affairs Committee yesterday.
If the resolution passes both the House and Senate with a 2/3 vote, a question will be put to the people: Shall the Permanent Fund Dividend Program be enshrined in the Constitution?
The Alaska Constitution mandates that we manage public resources for the benefit of all Alaskans. The dividend has become a valued institution, and many Alaskans have come to depend strongly on the dividend to make ends meet, reduce personal debt, and to store away as a nest egg for their children’s education.
The economic impact of the Dividend has been enormous over the almost 35-year life of the fund, and countries around the world are looking at the program in hopes of emulating it.
“I’m pleased to see SJR1 working its way through the committee process,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “There’s a lot of focus on the legislature’s budget process right now, but for Alaskan families, the PFD is a huge part of the budgets being worked out on their own kitchen tables, and has serious impact on their financial situation. It’s time we allowed the people to decide whether the dividend should be protected, and if future generations should also benefit from the state’s oil wealth.”
The Permanent Fund Dividend, established in 1982, has become a vital component of Alaska’s economy with much of it spent in the state. While principal in the Permanent Fund is constitutionally protected from being spent, the earnings of the fund can be appropriated by the legislature for any purpose.
SJR1 will still allow the legislature to use other earnings, but the constitutional amendment provided for in this resolution would ensure that people have a say in determining whether their own share of the earnings should be protected as well.
For more information, contact TJ Presley in Senator Wielechowski’s office at 907-465-2435.