House Committee hears 3 hours of public testimony on Permanent Fund restructuring

    "There's a lot of people depend on the dividend in the villages. The senior citizens in this state depend on the dividend, the disabled depend on it, the handicapped."

    The Alaska House Finance Committee took three hours of public testimony Tuesday on a measure to use part of the Permanent Fund's earnings to help close the state's billion-dollar budget deficit. The bill would reduce the Permanent Fund Dividend paid to Alaskans to $1,000 a year.

    Some of the comments made include:

    • "We cannot cut all the way to a balanced ledger and that discussion has passed for the fiscal year at hand."
    • "There's a lot of people depend on the dividend in the villages. The senior citizens in this state depend on the dividend, the disabled depend on it, the handicapped."
    • "I don't understand why nobody has mentioned the revenue that will be received from the taxes from the new marijuana law."
    • "There is an addiction problem and the addiction is spending. Please tell the gentleman on the third floor to keep his hands off the corpus of the Permanent Fund to use as collateral to build his gasline."

    The measure was passed by the Senate last week. The Committee closed public comment in the evening hours and will reconvene Wednesday.

    Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck told lawmakers if they don't pass the bill, the State will spend down its Constitutional Budget Reserve and have no option but begin spending the Permanent Fund earnings reserve.

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