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Bill Ensuring Full PFD Payout Advances From Senate Committee

Senator Wielechowski's SB 282 Provides for Full Dividend in 2010

(JUNEAU) -  The Senate State Affairs Committee today passed out of committee SB 282, legislation ensuring Alaskans will receive their full dividend from the Permanent Fund in 2010. The bill is sponsored by Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, who is concerned that statutory language might prevent a full PFD payout even though adequate funds are available in the earnings reserve this year.

In order to smooth out the ups and downs of the market, the Permanent Fund Dividend is calculated according to a complicated formula that takes into account the average amount the fund's investments have earned over the past 5 years. Current statute prevents the Permanent Fund Division from paying out more than 50% of the fund's earnings reserve in any given year.

"Due to the economic downturn, many Alaskans are relying even more heavily on this year's annual payout than in previous years," said Senator Wielechowski. "Enough funds are in the account, and since no funds will be set aside for inflation proofing this year, it seems senseless to let an old formula prevent a full payout to Alaskans who are counting on their full dividend."

According to the Permanent Fund Division, as of the end of February, we are still $50 million short of what is needed to pay out the full amount. 2003 is the only other time in the history of the Permanent Fund where we came close to not having a full payout.

"I hope we are able to see the gap close, however rather than leave it to chance, this legislation makes certain that Alaskans will receive their full dividend, in the event that earnings fall below the threshold required for a full payout," Senator Wielechowski added. "Alaskans deserve to receive the full amount of benefit from our state's oil revenue during these tough economic times."

SB 282 heads next to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

(For more information, contact Senator Wielechowski or Shelly Morgan at 907-465-3723.)

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