Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks about his goals during a press conference before his third cabinet meeting, on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday that he disagrees with the Alaska Supreme Court on whether Alaska Permanent Fund dividends can be cut during the state’s annual budget process.
Dunleavy said during a press availability before a cabinet meeting that dividends should be transferred automatically from fund earnings. The court has said the money is subject to what’s called a legislative appropriation.
“That’s their opinion,” he said. “I see it as a transfer. I’ve always seen it as a transfer, and a lot of people see it as a transfer. The language somehow crept into the budget discussions the last couple of years as an appropriation.”
It’s a legal distinction — but it also highlights a huge difference in basic budget assumptions between the governor and the previous Legislature.
If the state pays PFDs like Dunleavy said, it means there will be significant cuts to state services or to the permanent fund’s earning account.
Dunleavy said state spending will match its revenue. That will require a $1.6 billion spending cut, equal to 27 percent of the portion of the state budget the Legislature directly controls.
Dunleavy said his administration will fulfill campaign promises, including repealing Senate Bill 91, the 2016 law that reduced some criminal sentences. He said he will introduce a comprehensive package that will increase sentences for drug dealers and others.
“We are seriously looking at those folks that are preying upon Alaskans, our most vulnerable, our children, our women,” he said. “And we’re going to be tightening up those sentences for those particular crimes.”
Dunleavy said his proposals to cut the budget will be available in early February. And he announced a tentative date of Jan. 22 for the State of the State address.