Juneau Permanent Fund Dividend/Food Security Machinations
|The Alaska Legislature marvels at our Goose Egg Nugget from catastrophic energy policies of Joe Biden in his first year as President of the United States of America.|
A wonderful collateral benefit of the annual Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is if somebody owes you some money, with a court judgment against them you can garnish their annual Dividend to pay it off. Well, the State of Alaska has cheated Alaskans who qualify for the PFD from their full statutory amount since Gov. Bill Walker and the majority of legislators in backwater Juneau arbitrarily changed the payout amounts beginning in 2016. These scoundrels have also put payout of the PFD into the State Budget instead of as a direct obligation of this Constitutionally-established dedicated fund.
And Alaska courts have helped do this.
You see, Pick-Click-Give isn’t enough for the special interest non-profit groups feeding at the State trough, or for the voracious appetites of State agencies like the Department of (Government) Education or the Department of (Dependency) Health and Social Services. Now, with National Democrat Policies under the Biden Administration violating our right to energy independence security, Alaska oil has become very valuable–to the point that elected Alaska Democrats are singing from the same page of music as Republicans.
The bill for this theft as state coffers bloat with rocketing oil prices is due. The debtor State of Alaska cannot plead poverty. And as Alaskans we don’t exactly have a court judgment to garnish those stolen amounts,
but we have an election coming!
In an exclusive interview with District J Sen. Tom Begich, Minority Leader, I asked about this obligation to Alaskans, about machinations for putting the PFD into the state constitution, and his interest in dealing with challenges of food security. We Alaskans are directly impacted by Biden Administration policies from our lonely position between Russia and Canada with dependence upon Seattle for most of our food.
|Read AK Roundtable story here: https://donnliston.co/2021/12/what-is-ak-roundtable.html|
Is there any chance Alaskans will see any of the money they should have been paid since Gov. Bill Walker and the legislative majority changed the payout formula?
I think there is hope still that could happen. The problem is you have to get that through both bodies and the House has been pretty clear that they are not going to support a back payment as have some Senate members. If a back payment is proposed on the Senate Floor I don’t know if it would have 11
votes (to pass). It might, but I don’t think people are talking about that right now. They could be talking about that depending on what the March forecasts show, Donn, because I think we might be up to about $2.2 Billion in additional revenues, but it is possible the number could be even higher. The price of oil on March 8 was $120/bbl for Alaska crude. If those numbers hold it could be even higher and could change that (political) calculation.
Permanent Fund Maneuvers
We have had to deal with conflicting statutes, continued Begich. I voted back in 2017 or 2018 against the Percentage of Market Value (POMV) along with Sen. Wielechowski. You will remember Sen. Wielechowski insisted that we follow the statutory formula for the Dividend payment and continued to fight for that all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court. That court had ruled that POMV statute–just like the statute for tax credits or the statute for senior tax exemptions–cannot be construed as Dedicated Funds. They can be Designated Funds but not Dedicated Funds. This leaves the power of appropriation with the legislature.
In other words the courts ruled the Legislature has the right to spend the Permanent Fund because it isn’t protected in the Alaska Constitution.
Sen. Begich continued: Since that time—even before then—many have been advocating to constitutionalize the Dividend; at least constitutionalize whatever the statute is for payment of the Dividend. That has been an active effort on our part. So we have Dividend proposals that come out of the Senate, usually higher than what comes out of the House, and it is negotiated between the Finance Committees of the two bodies, and we vote on the budget as a whole. That’s what’s happened over the last few years.
So, the Fiscal Policy Working Group, including some fairly conservative members including Rep. Ben Carpenter, Rep. Kevin McCabe and some fairly liberal ones Sen. Jesse Kiehl and Sen. Kawasaki, and they tried
to hammer out what an overarching fiscal plan could look like. I always ask: What will it take to get 21 votes (house) plus 11 votes (senate) plus 1 (the governor not to veto)? 
Wasn’t that effort utterly ignored?
Yes, it usually is ignored. That’s why you’ve got to get 21-11-1. If you can’t get that you’ve got nothing. So, you do a lot of posturing for public attention and in the end nobody gets anything, said Begich.
What I am trying to do now is craft something that goes along with Gov. Dunleavy’s approach to live with a 50/50 plan, Begich continued. There are a couple of plans being proposed in the Senate Finance Committee that start at 50/50 then go through a series of machinations, such as 75 percent of POMV for government and 25 percent for, the Dividend, 70 and 30, and 65 and 40, etc. until you get back to a 50/50—called a Stair-Step Plan. It is connected to revenue to take into account the structural deficit—which is one proposed option. My guess is that on the Senate Floor we will modify that, making it less government and more Dividend to start with. We will probably have a shorter time frame to get back to the 50/50 from a higher POMV allotment to government. We will probably try to lower the amount of revenue required. All of those were elements in the proposed Fiscal Policy Working Group Plan.
Begich continued: All that being said, there will likely be a push by the House to put in some kind of a gas rebate similar to what Gov. Sarah Palin did back in 2008 to try to kick in money to compensate for high oil prices being driven by the Russian-Ukrainian event.
I didn’t remind the good senator that American oil costs to consumers have been raising exponentially since Biden became president—prior to our neighbor Russia invading Ukraine.
Chalet BNB story here: https://donnliston.co/2021/02/the-best-thing-about-being-in-anchorage.html
Begich: Anyway, all these things combined are going to lead to a larger Dividend this year, without a doubt. I hope–and I believe it is necessary–to have a functional statute with anchoring in the Alaska Constitution, so it is required to be paid. That’s what I am looking for and I am working for that right now.
Do you support Gov. Dunleavy’s efforts to get more Alaska oil to market given world events now?
The minority in the Senate agrees, said Begich. I just spoke to Channel 2 News and during the governor’s meeting with legislative leaders he briefed myself, Kathy Tilton, Louise Stutes and Peter Micciche—and he laid out his plan. He is going to go through this divestiture and part of the effort is to press for use of Alaska resources which are cleaner and safer for the most part than any of the partners the current (Biden) Administration is talking to; Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia. So if we set that group aside, we know Alaska has
untapped resources, or certainly not maximized resources.
Today on the floor of the Senate we brought up two resolutions; 1) a statement of solidarity with Ukraine, and 2) a resolution directly asking the Biden Administration to use Alaska resources because as a nation we have no need to be dependent upon Russian resources. You are going to see unified support for breaking dependency on Russian oil, and unified support for divesting from what is left of Russian investment assets in the Permanent Fund. We have about $20 Million left of $211 Million, and you are going to see a
clear message sent from the (Alaska) Administration, supported by the Legislature, and divestiture from companies that have written off North Slope Oil but are willing to buy oil stocks from Russia for pennies-on-the-barrel.
I favor that Legislation, and the governor has to do it with legislation because last time Permanent Fund divestiture from certain investments was sought, they never did it. We called for this kind of divestiture back when the Trump Administration sanctioned these same oil companies, and they didn’t do anything. The Senate Minority proposed legislation through a Sense of the Senate calling for divestiture from those assets at that time. We were told during debate on the Senate floor that the Permanent Fund Corporation opposed divesting because even though these companies were being sanctioned by the United States of America, they were part of their investment portfolio. The Permanent Fund managers said: “The only way you can do this is to change the law,” so the governor is proposing a change in the law, Donn, and we are going to support it.
|Read Nail Time & Spa and
Kim’s Cuisine Story Here: https://donnliston.co/2021/12/another-local-business-pandemic-survivor.html
One of the themes of my blog is Alaska Food Security, Senator, and I am interested in what you see the Alaska Legislature doing to make that happen. Is there any chance that lawmakers will try to assure large tracts of land for commercial ag production?
The person who knows more about this issue is Rep. Geran Tarr but let me say Gov. Dunleavy yesterday in that same leader’s meeting also brought up food security in the same way you do. I think it is important
to hear. I agree with you completely that we must find larger sustainable food security options for Alaska. Even if we began stockpiling food right now, we could only stock one month’s worth of non-perishable food for Alaska. The governor’s proposal is two-fold, and I am supportive of it; 1. Enhance storage capabilities, and 2. Provide public land into private hands for agricultural production. The governor has a lands bill he is trying to get moved, so yes, these are things I support.
I don’t know if there is a will in the legislature to act on the larger land proposals at this time, Begich continued. But I will be supporting those things when they come before me—without a doubt. I will do everything I can, Donn; we have two members on the Senate Resources Committee, Sen. Kiehl and Sen Kawasacki, and I will stress this with them. Rep. Tarr has been a leader on this issue here in Juneau. She has a Food Security Caucus going and she has been a leader on food security issues. She is one of the House Representatives in my Senate district–we call that the undercard–and I am absolutely in support of her efforts. This is one of those areas we can be bipartisan and rally for the good of Alaska. We must be committed to having Alaska NOT be dependent for our very survival on Outside sources of food. We want to build food security in mariculture, assuring safe salmon production, and what you are talking about is meat from livestock—pork, beef, chicken—grains and potatoes. We failed with the Delta Barley Project but we can learn from those mistakes and do it right. I think that is what Gov. Dunleavy is looking at, I know that is what Rep. Tarr is looking at, and it is certainly what I am looking at.
about MatSu Food Bank here: https://donnliston.co/2021/07/feeding-alaskans-in-mat-su.html
One more thing I think you should consider is emu! Emu meat is a delicacy and it is very easy to raise those birds. The guy raising them down in Anchor Point has been trying to get the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to allow them, because they say emu are not an approved animal in Alaska.
I think they fear emu might mate with eagles…
Ha! That’s funny to me, said Begich. I have to tell you, Donn, that I was here in Juneau—as you were—when Sen. Jan Faiks brought her llamas down here, and that was weird enough. But you know what? We have llama farms all over Alaska now so there is no reason we cannot be creative in bringing new protein into
our diets. Bison, llama, we imported caribou, we have had deer and elk, honest-to-goodness there is no reason we cannot have emu. I did a story on this and the fellow has been butting his head against the Department of Fish and Game, and it seems to me the Department of Agriculture should be supporting this, but they have some kind of prohibition against raising them for commercial purposes. I understand he is helping others to obtain emu eggs, and pretty soon there could be an emu march on Juneau… I support Emu Nation, Donn!
 The Goose Egg Nugget, comic book,
 Fiscal Policy Working Group
 Senate Bill 53
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