While rejecting the three-quarter vote in years past may have spared the far-right Republicans the pain of their actions, today’s plan seeks to make the consequences of the failed vote felt widely. Not only would the dividend be cut in half but tens of millions of dollars designed for projects in the Mat-Su—everything from road repaving and road access to repairs to the Houston Middle School and the roof of the Palmer Veterans’ and Pioneers Home—would be halted.
If he wants to finally deliver some fraction of his 2018 campaign promise, he needs to explain how he will pay for it. As long as the governor stands in the way of new revenue, clinging to the fantasy that it all can be done without pain, he will also stand in the way of larger dividends.
The plan scrapes together funding from the general fund, the statutory budget reserve and, critically, from the constitutional budget reserve to pay a $1,100 dividend, but comes with plenty of strings attached that are aimed at forcing on-the-fence legislators to support a bevy of actions on the budget.
While Dunleavy has pitched a big dividend without bothering to answer the question of “What’s next,” legislators are looking at other more modest dividend proposals that would bring finality to the budget process.
Sure, the first dividend was $1,000 but the repeal of the income tax paid even bigger dividends to the wealthiest Alaskans.
“Why not bite the bullet?”
Somehow the governor’s team figured out a pain-free plan to pay out huge dividends. Someone should get ahold of the legislators who’ve been pushing far more modest plans to let them know they can have their cake and eat it too.
The dividend and the overdraw, however, are far from final because the operating budget is already headed to negotiations with the House where it could change dramatically.
“When you shove the operating budget, the capital budget and the PFD just like you shove a duck in a chicken in a turkey, that’s what this bill is.”
It would also leave a whopping $1.1 billion gap in the state’s budget with no clear direction on how it would be closed. Would that be covered with deep cuts to state services? Steep hikes in taxes? A mix of both?