Fall payment to Alaskans will total about $1,655

The Alaska Legislature has approved the state budget with a Permanent Fund dividend and bonus of about $1,655 per recipient. The exact figure this fall will depend on the number of approved applicants.

The Legislature finished work and adjourned May 15.

As has been the case the past several years, the amount of the annual payment was debated at length.

Last year, senators wrote the budget so that if oil prices exceeded what the state needed to pay its bills, some of that extra revenue would be reserved for an “energy relief” payment attached to the 2024 dividend.

Oil prices have been higher than expected this fiscal year, adding to this fall’s payment. “$1,360 is the base dividend … and $295 is the energy relief dividend target, for a total of $1,655,” said Sitka Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chair of the budget-writing Finance Committee.

The Alaska Department of Revenue announces the amount of the dividend in September and starts issuing the payments the first week of October. The dividend program started in 1982, paying Alaskans with earnings from the state’s oil-wealth savings account.

By calling a portion of this year’s payment “energy relief” instead of a dividend, legislators expect that extra amount will not be subject to federal income taxes. The IRS has ruled that such general welfare payments are not taxable.

The estimated total of $1.655 is lower than the $2,300 dividend proposed in the House’s draft budget, but Palmer Rep. DeLena Johnson, co-chair of the House Finance Committee, said the final number shouldn’t be considered a “lower dividend.” It is about $340 higher than last year’s payment, she noted.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy had proposed a $3,500 dividend, but legislative leaders never accepted that number, which would have required drawing from savings or an additional withdrawal from Permanent Fund earnings.

For several years, the state budget — and the dividend size in particular — has been the most acrimonious issue in the Legislature, frequently driving the state to the brink of a government shutdown, but that acrimony was in short supply this year.

“I think there was a concerted effort to make sure that that didn’t happen this year. And that started from Day One,” Johnson said.

House and Senate leaders negotiated a detailed schedule of budget work and kept to that schedule throughout the legislative session.

Ketchikan Rep. Dan Ortiz, a member of the minority caucus in the House, was a member of the conference committee that negotiated the final version of the budget.

Early on, he said, there was a recognition that lawmakers weren’t willing to overspend from the Permanent Fund or spend the state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve in order to boost spending.

“I think as much as some people in the House would have liked to have seen a higher PFD, the reality was, the money just wasn’t there,” Ortiz said.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization. Alaskabeacon.com. The Sentinel contributed reporting for this story.


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