Legislative group starts work on the future of the Permanent Fund

For more information, contact:
Darwin Peterson, 465-2327; Erin Shine, 465-4949

JUNEAU – A group of legislators started work today on exploring the future of the Alaska Permanent Fund in an era of declining state revenues. The effort comes as the legislature and the governor wrestle with the size of this year’s permanent fund dividend and how to pay for future state budgets.

Lawmakers earlier this week approved creating an 8-member bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group with Sen. Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks) and Rep. Jennifer Johnston (R-Anchorage) as co-chairs.

“It’s my hope that my colleagues and I can recommend responsible ways to use permanent fund earnings for the benefit of all Alaskans, with the goal of protecting the entire permanent fund for now and for generations to come,” Bishop said.

“It’s important to keep the conversation going,” he added. “As long as you’re talking, you’re making progress. As soon as you stop talking, you succumb to defeat. Alaskans deserve a dividend and they deserve to have the conversation continue. We welcome the governor and his administration to be a part of that dialog.”

“The focus of this group is on the long-term sustainability of the permanent fund,” Johnston said. “Our intent is to put today’s permanent fund debate in context of past discussions about the permanent fund – including Governor Jay Hammond’s first proposal to base the size of each PFD on how long you lived in Alaska.

“We want to use this history as well as an understanding of the constitutional and statutory underpinnings of the permanent fund and the dividend, the fiduciary responsibility of managing the fund, and the mechanics of paying out a dividend to help inform where we go from here,” she added.

The working group met today in Juneau and plans to meet again Thursday morning at 9:30. Other members of the working group include Senators Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), Donny Olson (D-Golovin), Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) and Representatives Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River), and Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks).

Senate
Click Bishop, Co-Chair, 465-2327
Shelley Hughes, 465-3743
Donny Olson, 465-3707
Bert Stedman, 465-3873

House
Jennifer Johnston, Co-Chair, 465-4949
Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, 465-3732
Kelly Merrick, 465-3777
Adam Wool, 465-4976