Gov. Michael Dunleavy, as he considers the Operating Budget given to him by the Legislature, is in a no-win situation on the amount of this year’s Permanent Fund dividend.
In a nutshell, here are some of the factors he must wrestle with as he approaches that item in the Operating Budget:
- Dunleavy is dealing with a House and Senate that gave him a $1,600 appropriation for the dividend. This is something he cannot add to, but the majority of the Legislature has said is enough.
- The statutory (legal) calculation for the dividend this year is $3,000. That formula is a law on the books. It’s what he wants to follow until the formula is changed by law.
- Dunleavy ran on bringing the dividend calculation in compliance with statute (as it was for all the years up until the Walker Administration), and to take any changes to the calculation to the people for a vote, via a constitutional amendment.
- He could not get his constitutional amendment bill to do so heard in the Legislature.
- Dunleavy faces a recall campaign that has Democrats, public employee unions, state workers, a Native corporation, and a couple of millionaires backing it to overturn his election. The petitioners are people who never voted for him in the first place, and their grounds appear spurious.
- If Dunleavy gives in to the Legislature and agrees to the $1,600 dividend, he won’t win back his critics, and he’d make critics of many of his supporters, such as the PFD Defenders and a vast majority of Alaskans who want the law to be followed.
- If he vetoes the $1,600, the likelihood that the dividend checks being issued later than usual increases because he would need to call another special session. Is he willing to take on the majority in the Legislature?
- If Dunleavy calls a special session with a bill to appropriate the PFD, the Legislature could once again cut the amount and stuff more spending in the bill (the Groundhog Day syndrome).