June 24, 2019 (Wasilla)
The Mat-Su Delegation asserts that the presiding officers’ decision to move the location of the special session from Wasilla to Juneau is in clear violation of the law.
Co-Chair of the delegation, Senator Shelley Hughes (Palmer/Chugiak) stated, “I find it fascinating that legislative leaders would rather visit a courtroom than visit the Mat-Su.” Because five months of efforts on the PFD issue in Juneau failed, the delegation firmly believes that Alaskans should have the opportunity for an in-person voice in Mat-Su. Attempts to deny affordable access to more than a half million Alaskans comes with great risk of litigation.
The work to provide that access has been in full gear.
“Wasilla is a friendly community that’s been busy in recent weeks preparing to welcome the legislature. An unlawful attempt to subvert the legally determined location is beyond troubling,” added Co-Chair Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard.
The Constitution requires a 2/3 agreement (40 votes) in a poll of the joint House and Senate for the legislature to call itself back into a special session, and statutes require that same poll to determine the location. The presiding officers had only 39 votes to call the legislature into its own special session in Juneau. The statutes clearly state that when the governor issues the call for a special session, the governor determines the location.
Senator Hughes concluded, “On behalf of the Mat-Su Delegation, my co-chair and I welcome the Alaska State Legislature to Wasilla on July 8, 2019.”
Matanuska-Susitna Delegation, 31st Alaska State Legislature
Don’t Lose Your Temper, Use Your Temper
June 22, 2019
The Legislative leadership appointed a special committee they call “a Bicameral Working Group to provide context and solutions to the ongoing debate over the Permanent Fund dividend”. I renamed it the Special Legislative Committee To Justify Cheating Alaskans of Their PFD. Let’s look at the committee to determine if it’s going to give Alaskans a fair shake or provide more window dressing to cover the theft assigned by House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and Senate President Cathy Giessel. Each member of the House and Senate have already voted for or against the full dividend that Alaskans by statute are due.
This Committee is made up of four House members. Jennifer Johnston, R –Anchorage, is the House Chair. She voted against paying the full dividend. Adam Wool, D – Fairbanks, voted against paying the full dividend. Jonathan Kreiss-Thompson, D – Sitka, voted against the full dividend. Finally, the Freshman Kelly Merrick R – Eagle River voted for the full dividend. That’s three of four staunchly opposed to paying your full PF dividend.
The Committee is also made up of four Senate Members. Click Bishop, R – Fairbanks, is the Senate Chair and voted against the full dividend. Bert Stedman, R – Sitka, voted against the full dividend. Shelley Hughes, R – Palmer voted for the full dividend. Donny Olson, D – Golovin, voted against the full dividend. So, out of eight members appointed by PFD public enemy #1, Speaker Edgmon and #2, President Giessel, six of eight are committed to stealing your dividend and blaming the reason on you.
Have you ever seen a group of more tone deaf Legislators? This existing crop of Senate and House leadership define themselves daily: inept, procrastinators, devious and deleterious. We’re now going into the second Special Session and they haven’t even done the budget yet. Using their Legislative majority positions and fueled by retroactive per diem cash, they stopped your full dividend dead in each chamber. The public though is paying attention and is ready to throw the bums out. I don’t do well with those who promise one thing during the campaign and backtrack as soon as they get elected. Or they try to change the subject by redefining the issue. The latest PFD gambit is to say the full dividend is not sustainable. I was a member of the Investment Advisory Committee which came up with the dividend plan. We made the dividend sustainable under a simple formulae: Five years’ Fund earnings, averaged and divided by the number of Alaskan recipients. Pretty simple.
Maybe one of the mental giants who claim the PFD is unsustainable could explain their math. If the current statute is followed, the dividend is sustainable for a hundred years. You do the math for them. Your PF savings earns money. You inflation proof the principal and split the earnings balance 50% for dividends and 50% for expenses. Stick with the formulae and don’t succumb to the temptation to outspend your means. Presto, you created a sustainable dividend.
For the last five years, the Fund earned an average of 8.91% each year. We just passed $19 billion in earnings reserve. In FY 2018, we made statutory net income of $6.3 billion. Alaskans did our job and insisted on payment of the 25% royalty oil. We monitored the Fund’s performance to assure good earnings. But the Legislature failed to do its job, managing the state budget. The Governor knows that in addition to the Fund, state agencies have another $4.3 billion in just three agencies. Legislators refuse to introduce legislation to consolidate state government. Instead, they want to short your dividend. Justice should be swift to remove those folks from office.
Alaska’s private sector sinks in recession, agencies hoard their cash, towns enjoy their local permanent funds and spending just continues to rise while results languish. Departments defy the Governor’s cost cuts and consolidations to save money and are protected by Legislators from both parties that continue the spending spree. Legislators bet that the folks back home will suffer in silence while their dividend is cut for another year.
In 1999, Alaskans were given the opportunity to vote for or against the formulae that has now worked for thirty five years. The vote was 83% for the formulae Governor Hammond wanted and 17% against. If a corporation doesn’t allow its shareholders to vote on the dividend, the Board of Directors is removed at the next Annual Meeting. If your Legislator refuses to allow you to vote on your PF dividend, the same fate should await them.
Jennifer Johnston, Chair of the Special Legislative Committee To Justify Cheating Alaskans of Their PFD wants to “take away the emotions” from their decision to steal your dividend. Senator Ted Stevens, my mentor, was famous for his ferocious temper. I shared my concern for his reelection one time as Coordinator of his Alaska offices. He smiled and said, “Jim, I don’t ever lose my temper, I use my temper”. Time for Alaskans to follow his example with an action plan to save our Alaska Permanent Fund.
Jim Crawford is a third generation Alaskan entrepreneur who resides in Anchorage with his bride of 35 years, Terri. He is the former President of Permanent Fund Defenders LLC. The Alaska Institute for Growth is a local think tank Jim runs which studies and reports on and may sponsor projects of sustained economic growth for the Alaskan economy.
Jim Crawford, President
The Alaska Institute for Growth