This year's Alaska Permanent Fund dividend will be down just $24 dollars from last year's amount, Gov. Sean Parnell announced in Juneau Tuesday.
"Alaskans, your dividend this year will be $1,281 dollars," Parnell said, standing in the lobby of the Alaska Permanent Fund's Goldbelt Building.
This was Parnell's third time making the dividend announcement in his just more than a year as governor. He made the announcement, one of Alaska governors' favorite duties, just a few months after becoming governor.
He also previously handled the announcement in 2008, when former Gov. Sarah Palin was away running for vice-president.
Dividend payments will be made on Oct. 7, with direct deposit happening immediately on that date.
Department of Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin, in charge of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division, which sends out payments, said that this year all the payments would be made Oct. 7 as well.
"This year, for the first time, we're going to see the warrants, the paper checks, going out on the same day," he said.
The division has been strongly encouraging direct deposit of dividends as a cost savings measure, and previously waited to mail out checks, providing an incentive to use direct deposit.
Division Director Debbie Bitney said that delay was forced by equipment limitations as well, but new equipment allows all dividends, electronic and paper, to be paid on the same day.
Bitney said most Alaskans get their dividends electronically these days. Of the 641,595 dividends to be paid this year, only 86,000, or less than 14 percent, will be mailed.
"People in rural areas who wanted checks felt they were seen as second-class citizens," Bitney said, because of their delay in getting their money.
Mailing costs more, but Bitney said some will always need to be mailed and the big gains by switching to electronic deposit have probably already happened.
For a while this year it looked like there might not be any dividend payments at all because of 2008's stock market decline.
Dividends are based not on the total size of the fund, but on a calculation based on the fund's earnings, after inflation proofing.
"I don't think its any surprise that the last few years have been very difficult," said Mike Burns, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., the public corporation that manages the fund.
He thanked the people of Alaska for their patience and persistent support over the years.
The size of the permanent fund dropped from more than $40 billion at one point to a low of below $30 billion, before rebounding to its current level of $35.9 billion.
"It's a pretty healthy checkbook," Burns said.
That rebound meant that the formula, averaged over five years and based on profit only, calculated this year's dividend at about average for recent years.
This year's dividend will pump about $822 million into the state's economy.
Over the history of the permanent fund, Burns said, $14.7 billion in oil royalties and legislative appropriations have been paid into the fund, while $18.4 billion has been paid out in dividends.
Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at email@example.com.
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