For almost thirty years, Alaskans could count on their annual dividend checks as the state
legislature followed the law that directed the dividend to be paid by a statutory formula.
The trust between the government and the people of Alaska was broken in 2016 when Governor
Walker vetoed a portion of the annual dividend and the Alaska Supreme Court ultimately
determined that dividends were subject to the annual appropriations process. While the
legislature could choose to follow the law and appropriate the dividend according to statute and
separate it from the budget, they have not done so. Instead, the permanent fund dividend has
been subjected to the budget process, where the dividend competes with government spending
and often becomes the deficit reduction solution.
HJR7 requires the state to pay the annual Permanent Fund dividend according to a formula in
statute, rather than by the whims of the annual appropriations process.
The amendments in HJR7 address the constitutional issues raised by the Supreme Court in its
Wielechowski opinion that allowed the legislature to appropriate the annual dividend rather than
pay it out by formula.
Neglecting to constitutionalize the PFD would permit lawmakers to continue avoiding their
obligation to address the shortcomings of Alaska’s fiscal and economic planning, placing the
Permanent Fund at risk. Constitutionally enshrining the Permanent Fund Dividend will provide
for the maximum benefit of all Alaskans and ensure the prosperity of the Permanent Fund for
generations of Alaskans to come