Rep. Adam Wool E-News Update: First Special Session Ends- Permanent Fund Working Group Holding Meetings

Summer is underway in Fairbanks, with many bright and sunny days ahead of us! Meanwhile, the Governor’s Special Session has concluded, and Legislators have headed home from Juneau. I am looking forward to being home more often during this beautiful time of year, but there is unfinished business that the Legislature is working on. Right now, I am serving on a working group made up of four House and four Senate members to explore the history of the Permanent Fund and ask critical questions. We have had only a few meetings so far, but I am optimistic that the conversations will contribute to better decision making for the future of the PFD.

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The Legislature Passed a Budget

Adjusted for inflation and population, the budget is the lowest it has been in 15 years, since 2005. It is a reduction of $190 million from last year. The budget is $4.3 billion in Unrestricted General Funds (UGF) for agency and statewide operations. We did not dip into savings; in fact, we have an approximately $600 million surplus. However, as discussed below, it does not include the dividend. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk. The Capital Budget is still being discussed.

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Update on Special Session Week 2

Half of this 30-day special session is over.The big sticking point is the amount and how to pay for this and future Permanent Fund dividends (PFD). Thanks to those who responded to our last newsletter with their thoughts on the dividend. I believe in a “forever dividend.” That means growing our Permanent Fund savings while using some as originally intended: to support public services as oil dollars decline and some for the dividend. Finding that balance is the challenge.

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