Governor Bill Walker announced Sept. 23 that the amount of the Permanent Fund Dividend would be cut from $2,052 to $1,022. This has upset many Alaskans despite the fact that the money being cut out of the PFD will go toward reducing Alaska’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit. There are heated arguments on both sides of Walker’s move, however there seems to be more outrage for this move than support.
I think that Walker’s decision to cut the PFD is actually a pretty good idea. Now, before you come after me with torches and pitchforks, let me explain myself. While I think that cutting the PFD is ultimately beneficial toward reducing Alaska’s deficit, I do not want to lose out on my PFD either. Like many Alaskans, I am a little miffed that Walker announced the veto, but I do understand why it’s happening, and I support his decision.
I’d like to add that I sympathize with Governor Walker. He really didn’t have a lot of choices, and even then the ones he did have all lead to political suicide. He was going to lose no matter what, and he has even stated that he doesn’t think he is getting re-elected. Given the outrage that many Alaskan’s feel at the announcement of the PFD cut, I certainly believe that he most likely will not be re-elected.
I have not lived in this state for very long, but I do consider myself to be Alaskan. Out of the other five U.S. states that I have lived in and the 46 I have visited, Alaska is by far my favorite. Since I have lived in other states, the PFD to me is nothing short of free money. It’s just a bonus to living in our already beautiful area. As far as I am concerned, the PFD could be cut to $100 dollars and I wouldn’t be any more upset.
Don’t get me wrong, I love money as much as the next guy, but the state is literally handing me money just for living here. No other state in the Union does this, not one. We don’t even pay state taxes up here, and in some areas of Alaska, there’s no sales tax on top of that. It’s time that Alaska realizes that we have been getting spoiled for quite a long time. While it is written into our state constitution that we receive the PFD, that can always change, and maybe it’s time for that.
Now is a time of economic downturn and tough times are ahead, so we need to take action to try and reduce the damage being dealt to our economy. I think Alaska should also enact a state tax for the time being. It doesn’t have to be permanent of course, but it would certainly help to pay off our debts. Additionally, this could have been enacted along with the PFD cuts, so I think we got off pretty lucky with just the cut.
I realize that there are great amounts of people in the Interior of Alaska who do rely on the PFD for their annual income, and perhaps some of them are forced into that predicament. For those that are not forced to rely on something as wavering as the PFD, it is a rather unwise economic decision to do so. The PFD is more of a bonus to our incomes than anything else. Most Alaskans use their PFD to go on vacation, buy new video games, outdoor equipment, or furniture.
As for the future of the PFD, I can’t say what will happen. I remain hopeful that this won’t happen again in the future. Like many Alaskans, I do hope that the PFD isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, if it does go the way of the Dodo, it was certainly some great icing on the cake for living in this beautiful state. The PFD doesn’t make Alaska great. What makes us a wonderful place to call home is all of us working together and striving to make our state better. Even if that means we have to tighten our belts a little and do without some bonuses, I think Alaska will be just fine.