Breaking News: Dividend Guarantee of $1,111 stalls permafund proposal

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A proposal to use some of the Alaska Permanent Fund for state government stalled in the House of Representatives Tuesday night over an amendment that would guarantee dividend checks of at least $1,111.

The proposal to evenly split the percent-of-market-value-calculated 5 percent of the fund between dividends and government expenses has been waiting for a decision by the House since last week, when it first came up for debate on the House floor.

On Tuesday night, lawmakers amended the proposal to use 5 percent of the government's portion of the split for municipalities, providing about $65 million annually to communities across the state.

Another amendment introduced at about 11 p.m. would have guaranteed dividend payments of no less than $1,111 for every eligible man, woman and child in the state.

"This is the Permanent Fund. Show some respect," said House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, about the late hour of discussion when lawmakers proposed a late-night conceptual amendment to address the discrepancy.

House Speaker Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, said he postponed discussion of the bill so lawmakers can fine-tune the language of the amendment before taking a vote.

"It's 11:00 again and it's an important issue to the state of Alaska and the citizens," Kott said after the house adjourned. "And we've been at this for a couple of days, so, believe me, I think we ought to do it and do it right."

Kott said he thinks there are enough votes in the House to pass the bill. He is not sure, however, what will happen if the proposal is sent to the senate.

"They're feeling pinched, I think," he said.

Kott said there are still about three more proposed amendments to the bill, which the Legislature will discuss today.

"We're getting closer," he said. "That's all I can tell you."

Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothy.inklebarger@juneauempire.com



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