New proposal would protect billions of dollars in the Permanent Fund

JUNEAU – Today, a bill was introduced to protect Alaska’s limited resources by placing billions of dollars into the principal of the Permanent Fund so it cannot be spent down to subsidize large budget deficits.

House Bill 165 was introduced by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) and calls for a transfer of $4.35 billion from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve account – money that today could be spent with a simple majority vote of the Legislature – into the principal account, which is constitutionally protected and can be accessed only with the direct approval of Alaskan voters.

“This bill sweeps a huge amount of cash off the table that is at grave risk of being spent down by the legislature in order to avoid tough decisions that will balance Alaska’s budget,” Representative Kreiss-Tomkins said. “We must take bold, decisive steps to protect the Permanent Fund for future generations.”

If policymakers approve the proposed transfer, sufficient resources will remain in the ERA to pay for Permanent Fund Dividends and essential public services.

HB165 was referred to the Ways and Means and Finance committees for consideration.