FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2017
Senator Tom Begich Introduces Resolution to Constitutionally Enshrine Permanent Fund Dividend
JUNEAU — Today Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8 (SJR-8) which would afford protection for the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) in the Alaska State Constitution.
“I have taken suggestions from my constituents, and former and current legislators to craft a simple bill that enshrines use of the Permanent Fund earnings and the dividend for all Alaskans. If SB-26 passes, the legislature will for the first time have the authority to decide whether or not Alaskans have a dividend. And without a dividend and our connection to the Permanent Fund, I firmly believe some future legislature may well spend the Permanent Fund beyond sustainability, reducing it , in time, to nothing,” said Begich.
“Going into a prolonged session, with SB-26 moving forward, it is essential that we protect our connection to the permanent fund. I want this piece of legislation to be part of those conversations and to ensure that all options are on the table.”
A constitutional amendment as envisioned by SJR-8 will ensure the current dividend structure and 50% formula calculation through 2020. After that time, it allows the legislature the flexibility to adjust the dividend percentage based on the State’s fiscal situation at the time, with a guarantee that the amount is never less than 35% of the earnings, based on the current formula. The legislature would be given the opportunity to review every four years to determine whether the fiscal environment would require a reduction in order to comply with the constitutional obligation for education and public safety funding, but the Dividend would remain guaranteed in the Constitution.
The Permanent Fund was created so that all Alaskans could share in the success of the development of our shared natural resources. As a result, 15,000-20,000 Alaskans are kept out of poverty every year, and Alaska is the most economically equitable state in the nation.
“There is no way to truly protect the PFD for future generations while also assuring use of the fund earnings, as it was intended, without affording the Dividend constitutional protection. That is why I have introduced this Resolution,” said Senator Begich.
For more information, members of the media may contact Alaska Senate Democrats’ Press Secretary, Jeanne Devon at 907-465-5319.