Alaska editorial: PFD for deceased goes too far

Posted: Friday, April 23, 2010

The House has passed Sen. Kevin Meyer's bill to grant Permanent Fund Dividends to the estates of those who die in the previous year, provided the deceased would have qualified had they been living. All right, everyone make your own joke here. "We used to say you just have be a breathing Alaska resident to receive the dividend. Now you don't even have to be breathing."

As Rep. Berta Gardner, one of eight House members who voted against the bill on April 15, said, we mean no disrespect to the families of deceased Alaskans. Family members and lawmakers have argued that families can use the money to fill gaps left by the loss of a breadwinner. No question.

But the dividend shouldn't be the source. The PFD was never meant as funeral insurance, inheritance or survivors' benefit. The dividend is each living Alaskan's share of the state's wealth. Breathing should still count.

Margins of passage in both House and Senate were enough to override a veto, if Gov. Sean Parnell were so inclined. Still, he should veto to give lawmakers a little time to reconsider.

Present law allows same-year receipt of a dividend by the estate of a dead person - even if that person died before filing. That's generous enough. Otherwise let's the draw the line where nature does and leave the dividend for the living. This PFD benefit goes too far.



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