Alaska Legislature

Alaska Legislature will take public testimony on the future of the state budget and Permanent Fund dividend this week

Alaskans interested in sharing their opinions about the future of the state budget and Permanent Fund dividend are being invited to testify 6-9 p.m. Thursday in Anchorage at the Legislative Information Office at 1500 W. Benson Boulevard.

The meeting is the first of four that will collect input from Alaskans across the state before a special session scheduled to begin Aug. 2 in Juneau. Legislators have organized an eight-member group whose job is to set the agenda for that session, and public testimony is part of the process.

In the session, lawmakers will attempt to come up with a new long-term formula for the Permanent Fund dividend and a way to pay for that formula, if needed. Without agreement, there may not be a Permanent Fund dividend this year, and there may not be funding for the Power Cost Equalization fund, which subsidizes home electricity prices in rural Alaska.

Between 1982 and 2016, Alaska relied on a formula in state law to set the amount of the annual dividend. Since a 2017 Alaska Supreme Court decision, the governor and legislators have set the dividend manually.

The three other opportunities for public testimony:

* 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Mat-Su Legislative Information Office, 600 Railroad Ave. No. 1 in Wasilla.

* 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office, 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308.

* 6-9 p.m. Monday at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau.

Anyone who can’t visit an office in person can call into the Monday hearing. Juneau residents can call 907-586-9085, Anchorage residents can call 907-563-9085, and other Alaskans can call 844-586-9085.

Each person who speaks will have a short time in front of the microphone, likely two or three minutes. Comments can also be emailed to fiscal.policy@akleg.gov.

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