Senator Wielechowski Introduces Bill to Protect Permanent Fund Dividend
SB 282 Prevents First Time Implementation of Dividend Payment Limit
(JUNEAU, February 17, 2010) - Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, today introduced Senate Bill 282, designed to prevent the implementation of a section of state law that threatens to keep Alaskans from receiving a full dividend from the Permanent Fund this year.
"Representatives of the Permanent Fund Division reported that the dividend payout each year can't be more than 50 percent of the fund's earning reserve," said Senator Wielechowski. "Because of the downturn in the markets in the last few years, there's a possibility that this limit could be invoked for the first time ever this year, reducing each dividend by as much as several hundred dollars. SB 282 will guarantee that we all get the full dividend in 2010."
The Permanent Fund Dividend is calculated according to a complicated formula that takes into account the average amount the fund's investments have earned in the past five years. In rare cases, it is possible that the full amount of the calculation cannot legally be appropriated from the earnings reserve even though sufficient funds exist. Wielechowski said there is still a possibility that earnings might exceed expectations in the next few months, but that he didn't want the state to risk not paying a full dividend this year.
"Especially in these tough economic times, we need to make sure that Alaskans get the full amount of benefit of our state's oil wealth, and SB 282 will give them that assurance," he said.
Senate Bill 282 has been referred to the State Affairs and Finance Committees. No hearings have yet been scheduled.
For more information, contact Senator Wielechowski or George Ascott at 907-465-2435.