ALASKA, US: Permanent Fund Defenders protest dividend cuts
A newly launched grassroots campaign is using social media and video to protest recent cuts to the state’s annual dividend.
As reported in previous Basic Income News stories, Alaska Governor Bill Walker vetoed half of the Legislature’s allocations to the 2016 Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Often regarded as one of the best examples of “real-world basic income,” the annual PFD provides all Alaskan adults and children with checks of an equal amount, funded by earnings on a permanent fund in which a portion of the state’s oil revenues are invested.
The amount of the PFD reached its peak of $2,072 in 2015. In 2016, it dropped to $1,022 — though it would have been $2,052 absent Walker’s veto.
Although intended to help preserve the PFD during a significant budget crisis, Walker’s action unsurprisingly generated much controversy. State senator Bill Wielechowski filed a lawsuit charging that Walker’s veto was unconstitutional. The suit was dismissed by a superior court judge in November, but Wielechowski has appealed the decision to the Alaska Supreme Court.
With the Supreme Court hearing likely not to take place until April or May, a group of 12 lawmakers and activists have launched the nonpartisan grassroots group Permanent Fund Defenders, which advocates for the restoration of the full amount of the PFD. The group currently operates primarily through social media, and has created animated videos describing the history of the PFD (see below).
On its Facebook page, the Permanent Fund Defenders demonstrate solidarity with the Goenchi Mati Movement in the Indian state of Goa (previously profiled in Basic Income News), which promotes the establishment of a permanent fund and citizen’s dividend based on money from the sale of minerals.
Liz Raines, “Former lawmakers, political activists launch group to block PFD restructure,” KTVA, January 3, 2017.
Previous Basic Income News reports on the recent PFD controversy:
Kate McFarland (September 22, 2016) “ALASKA, US: Senator files suit against Governor’s veto of half of Permanent Fund Dividend”
Kate McFarland (September 29, 2016) “ALASKA, US: Amount of 2016 Permanent Fund Dividend to be $1022”
Kate McFarland (December 3, 2016) “ALASKA, US: Judge Upholds Governor’s Veto of Part of State’s Social Dividend”
Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan
Photo: Shell Oil drilling rig, CC BY 2.0 Day Donaldson