Politics

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs legislation to pay $1,100 PFD

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has signed into law a bill that will pay this year’s Permanent Fund dividend.

The bill, approved by the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, calls for spending $730.5 million on dividends. After subtracting other costs and dividing the remainder among eligible Alaskans, each recipient will get about $1,100, though that figure is an estimate and will change in the final accounting.

Last year’s payment, estimated to be about $1,000, ended up being $992 and was distributed to 630,937 Alaskans.

An official with the Alaska Department of Revenue said on Tuesday that it will take about 30 days for payments to be distributed.

The dividend has traditionally been considered a share of Alaska’s mineral rights, with funding coming from the Alaska Permanent Fund, an $83 billion trust fund. Most of that figure now represents investment earnings, not revenue from oil and gas drilling.

Since a 2017 Alaska Supreme Court decision, the dividend has been considered a general-government expense, and legislators have used a variety of funding sources to pay it. This year’s payment, for example, comes from a state savings account and the state’s general fund, which is partially funded by the Permanent Fund.

The bill containing this year’s payment was sent to the governor just before 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and a spokesman for the governor confirmed his signature.

The dividend payment is less than Dunleavy had sought, but the governor said on Tuesday that he would sign it anyway to avoid harming individual Alaskans, small businesses and the economy.

The governor had vetoed a partially funded dividend proposal that passed the House and Senate earlier this year, and lawmakers struggled to come up with a replacement before approving one on the last day of a special session.

In addition to the dividend, the new legislation makes other spending decisions, including $54 million in tax credits to oil and gas companies, $4.8 million for renewable energy projects, $10.5 million for tourism marketing, and $16 million in federal aid for COVID pandemic response.

It also restores money Dunleavy had vetoed from the budget of the Alaska Legal Services Corp.

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