Jenkins: Using the Permanent Fund – courageous or nuts?

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By Paul Jenkins |

They are either courageous or nuts, take your pick. In an historic vote, 36 of Alaska’s 60 lawmakers waded into the deep end of the pool to use, for the first time, the state’s $64.6 billion Permanent Fund for its long-established purpose — underwriting government when oil revenues go “kersplat.”

After years of knock-down, drag-out legislative brouhahas over using the Alaska Permanent Fund for much of anything but annual payouts to Alaskans, lawmakers finally adopted a Percent of Market Value approach, or POMV, to using the fund to help make ends meet. The idea — endorsed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s board of trustees — is to annually draw no more than 5.25 percent of a five-year average of the fund’s value from its Earnings Reserve Account, which now holds $17.6 billion.

Lawmakers had little choice. The state’s savings accounts are almost as empty as a campaign promise.The three-page compromise, Senate Bill 26, passed the House 23-17 and the Senate, 13-6, with one legislator, newly appointed Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, excused. Then it was hustled off to Gov. Bill Walker, who hailed the measure as “landmark legislation.”

Jenkins: Using the Permanent Fund – courageous or nuts?

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