Thursday, October 29, 2015

Alaska Governor Bill Walker steps into dangerous territory.

Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch:  

A new plan from Gov. Bill Walker’s administration to broadly restructure Alaska’s finances would convert the Permanent Fund into an endowment-like fund that absorbs oil income and generates billions of dollars in annual revenue for the state’s treasury, Attorney General Craig Richards announced Wednesday. 

The sweeping changes would insulate state government from swings in the price of oil, Richards said in a briefing with reporters, and also likely reduce the Permanent Fund dividend to around $1,000, slightly below the roughly $1,400 average it has been for the past decade. 

Future dividend checks — termed “Royalty Dividends” in place of “Permanent Fund Dividends” — would be tied to Alaska’s slowly declining oil production, though the hoped-for construction of a natural gas pipeline could provide a boost.

Anybody who pays close attention to Alaska politics knows that ultimately something like this is almost certainly going to happen.

However those of us paying attention also know how incredibly unpopular the idea of touching the dividend is to Alaskans.

After all there is a reason we call it the "Third rail of politics."

And you can get a sense of that from this response by Alaska Senator Bill Wielechowski:

One Democratic senator, Bill Wielechowski of Anchorage, said Walker’s plan is “not where I would have gone,” and pointed out that its projected dividend would be a sharp drop from this year’s $2,072 check. “You’re asking for $1,000 from every Alaskan,” Wielechowski said. “I think there are better ways to do it.”

As an Alaskan who really enjoys that annual check I hope they don't mess with it.

But as a realist who knows that the alternative may be the state not being able to pay its bills, or a return of state taxes, I am not sure there is any real choice.

Personally I think in many ways we Alaskans have been more than fortunate, and like many good things, it simply cannot last forever. 


  1. Anonymous2:52 PM


    I really enjoy my annual check too, always use it to buy more stocks.
    But at the same time I think it's a double edged sword as ultimately we've got to be able to pay for state services and I'd gladly give up the PFD in lieu of a state income tax and/or Muni sales tax.

    As a bonus of re-directing the PFD earnings for state services, I think we'd also see a mass exodus of what I consider *undesirables* whom, IMO, are a big reason they're here to begin with, that being for the PFD ...

    1. Anonymous3:03 PM

      oops ! sorry for misspelling your name Gryph ..

    2. Anonymous3:26 PM

      I have wondered about that too. The year Palin gave us all $1000 for being alive in 2008 you have to consider the PFD was already $2069 that year and when you add up $3069 and multiply it within the typical four person family that was a hefty chunk. This year’s was too. We always used it for tuition so it was a great boon to our family of four. It will be tough for those who used it for fuel and food though.

    3. Anonymous3:56 PM

      Nobody in Michigan gets a check for having done absolutely nothing. We pay income and property and sales taxes to boot. It can't hurt Alaskans to have to give up a few hundred dollars a person.

    4. Anonymous4:12 PM

      You are so right Beaglemom. I am horrified when Alaskans complain about taxes! As if! We pretty much pay property taxes, federal and sometimes depending where we live, sales tax. It is an ignorant ranter who goes on about how unfair taxes are in Alaska. In fact in my town only recently did it become clear the tax assessor hadn’t done assessments for 15 years! During this time people who lived outside the city were paying a hefty property tax bill. But, guess who rants the most? Angry middle age white guys. Who knew? They seem to be the most entitled mess around.

    5. Anonymous5:15 PM

      I'm poster @ 2:52

      as an addendum, and having lived up here for 34 years now, I didn't start applying for my PFD 'til 10 years ago because I didn't believe in it. Told a relative that one time, he said I was nutz. Suggested I could write it off, donate it to a charitable cause, buy stocks, whatever. I decided he was right and did donate to charitable organizations for a couple of years, read some not so good things about them, and have been buying into the stock market with my PFD ever since .. but as said, I'll happily surrender it to help run the state ... only if the idiots running the state don't waste it on frivolous, expensive lawsuits, such as trying to do away with Guv Walker's Medicaid expansion, etc ..

    6. Anonymous5:33 PM

      watch the teabaggerz up here scream the loudest ...

    7. Anonymous9:34 PM

      Been in AK since the 70s and gotta say the time has arrived to let go of the pfd. I'm with you 2:52/5:15.

    8. Anonymous4:07 AM

      Anyone who ,moves up there for a measly $2K is absolutely NUTS.

    9. Maple7:21 AM

      Norway now has trillions of Euros socked away due to wise investing of North Sea Oil revenues. Norway uses the interest ON the interest to help fund infrastructure, provide free tuition to university and a host of other good things. Norwegians are among the happiest folk in the world.

  2. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Please don't take the Socialism away from those patriotic Conservative Republicans in Alaska!

  3. Anonymous3:26 PM

    It's more of the Palin curse. She and the Toad have been involved in oil and gas, and now you're gonna lose your money that came from a booming oil and gas business. No accident, she's toxic as hell.

  4. Anonymous3:37 PM

    I'm curious, does Hawaii give residents any money? It is just as expensive to live there as Alaaska - do they get a cut of tourism money?

  5. Anonymous3:54 PM

    Sounds like a good idea. Has Sarah Palin's head exploded yet or is she going to hide behind Bristol again on this one?

  6. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Sounds like a good move, or at least one in the right direction. Maybe at some point in the future the welfare queen named Alaska can pay her own way instead of expecting blue states to support her.

  7. Randall4:25 PM

    Are you saying that the oil industry in Alaska is SOCIALIZED?
    That a red state like Alaska is really just a bunch of SOCIALISTS in Republican clothing?

  8. Frosty no longer AK4:29 PM

    Expect rioting in the streets. The PFD is sacred. Sacred I tell ya!

    Some people overpopulated just to get more PFDs. In this day and age is there really any other reason to have 7 to 13 home schooled kids?

    1. Anonymous5:02 PM

      see; the vaguely bearded one - joe_ carpetbagger_ miller .. as an example ..

      speaking of whom, i stumbled across a site the other day where that tea_tard's got a reich wing radio talk show ... i didn't bother searching it out ..

  9. Every dollar of state revenue should be part of the permanent fun account. Lots of money earns lots of interest.

  10. Anonymous4:30 PM


  11. Anonymous6:09 PM

    In a sane world the money would be used for infrastructure and community places - but not much sane left in the US at the minute

  12. physicsmom7:03 PM

    The principal problem in South Carolina seems to be their legislatures. The fact that they passed a law that criminalizes "disrupting school," and actually put children in jail for that, is appalling. It appears that the schools go along with this nonsense too, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    From time immemorial, students have been disruptive in class and the teachers were required to discipline them. The teachers hated this, but they were supposedly trained to handle classroom discipline and had learned conflict de-escalation. I don't know how long ago this statute was passed, but I would guess it was a majority Republican membership. Does anyone know if there are other states with laws like this? Somehow these laws need to be declared un-Constitutional. Maybe one of the girls involved in this incident will convince her parents to sue the State? (If this is a low income area, then the family may not be able to afford such a suit, but hopefully the ACLU would step in). Presumably, such a case would make its way to the Supreme Court. That formerly "esteemed" body's composition makes it unlikely that they would take it up, but we can dream. The struggle continues.

    1. Anonymous9:02 PM

      What exactly should be done with the special snowflakes when they disrupt a classroom. Why should the other students have to suffer their boorish and disrespectful behavior? The little bitch in SC now has a go Fund Me account and the officer has been fired. I don't really see her suffering too much thus far for being a disrespectful, insolent little brat. Fuck her, my kids are in school to learn.

    2. Anonymous9:42 PM

      @anon 9:02 pm

      Calling that young lady a bitch is completely out of line. She has been described as a very quiet and shy person. BTW I hope your kids get the hell beat out of them by a cop tomorrow, with you raising them they will most likely have it coming.

    3. Anonymous2:13 AM

      Does that make you a big bitch or just a whiny bitch, 9:02?

      I would be curious to know what these people that are screaming about classroom disruption think about mentally challenged kids being dumped in public school classrooms. Many, not all, are not capable of learning a thing. And yes, they disrupt those classrooms every day. Are they little bitches too?

    4. Anonymous5:20 AM

      Oh no 9:02, FUCK YOU!

    5. Anonymous6:56 AM

      The student's mother had just died and she'd been sent to foster care. Was she disruptive? OK. Then a guidance counselor could have helped her out of that situation. The teacher, the officer, and the administration lacked judgment, skills, and compassion.

  13. Anonymous9:14 PM

    It's about time Alaska paid it's own way.

    1. Anonymous9:36 PM

      Well, 9:14, there's a reason Alaska is #50 amongst the states in terms of welfare dollars spent per capita. That's 50 as in the LEAST $ spent by the feds. Wanna guess what state is # 1?

    2. Anonymous9:38 PM

      Well, 9:14, there's a reason Alaska is #50 amongst the states in terms of welfare dollars spent per capita. That's 50 as in the LEAST $ spent by the feds. Wanna guess what state is # 1?

    3. Anonymous9:41 PM

      @anon 9:36 pm

      The whole state is a welfare state, they receive approx. $1.84 for every $1.00 paid in. Meaning everything in Alaska is paid for with tax dollars from other states.

    4. Anonymous6:54 AM

      Plus the citizens can sit in their La-Z-Boys all year long, if it's on Alaska soil, and collect a sweet, sweet
      welfare check in the four figures just for existing. That's the ultimate in welfare, and you give it to yourselves.
      Time to tax some of you to pay for the extravagances of your government. Oil and gas aren't renewable resources.

  14. LisaB25956:07 AM

    When I lived there, of course, I loved the check, but it also frustrated the hell out of me that in a state as rich as Alaska, the Anchorage teachers were threatening to strike all the time.

    What on earth is that fund for? Seems to me Alaska should have the best school system on the planet, but instead there were teachers threatening to strike every year.

    But hey, flat panel TVs were flying off the shelves.


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