Gov. Bill Walker has announced the amount of the 2016 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks in a video posted online. This year’s check — $1,022.
The video, recorded at Valley Pathways High School in Palmer, shows the governor joined by Palmer eighth-grader Shania Sommer, who helped announce last year’s dividend amount.
In late June, Walker announced his vetoes in which he cut dividends in half to, “preserve the state’s savings,” according to a press release Friday morning.
In the video address, the governor stressed the need for a fiscal plan to preserve the permanent fund dividend program for generations to come.
“Over the past two years, Alaska has lost over 80 percent of our income, resulting in an over $4 billion budget deficit,” said Walker in the press release. “While my administration presented a complete fiscal plan to the legislature last session, legislators did not pass a single component of that plan. We cannot continue on our current path without making significant changes. If we do, the dividend program will be gone in just a few short years.”
Friday’s release included the amount checks would have been if Walker had not made the cuts — $2,052.
KTVA asked Alaskans to weigh-in on the PFD announcement and Walker’s decision to cap the dividend.
Anchorage resident Thomas Minelga is planning to spend his PFD on a vacation. He said he supports the cap:
“I think it’s necessary, given how much revenue the state has lost because of the crash in oil prices. It’s free money, so when people complain, oh, I’m not getting as much free money, well, you didn’t really work for it. So even the fact that you’re still getting a grand is pretty good.”
Shari Kayutak had a blunt response when asked what she thought of the plan to cap the PFD.
“I think it sucks. Once the government gets their hands on it … they’re not going to do anything good with it. If they wanted to do something good, they’d start cutting at the top but it’s always from the bottom.”
Resident Dimitri Shein said he’s planning to use the PFD to feed his children.
“I think it’s unfortunate. This is my home and if this is what it needs to make our ends meet and make sure we have vital services like schools and roads, I think its important that we do that.”