Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas will

Grow the Permanent Fund and Protect the PFD

Mike Dunleavy tried to destroy Alaska's ferry system Mike Dunleavy tried to destroy Alaska's ferry system

Bill Walker has always been honest with Alaskans. It was his courage to do what was right for Alaska, even when it was hardest, that paved the way for the economic stability that could be possible today. And with real leadership, we can achieve it.

While the Dunleavy administration benefits from an oil revenue windfall at $100+/barrel from a war in Europe, Governor Walker faced the devastating impact of oil at $26/barrel. The crash in oil prices in 2014 reduced state revenue by 80%, resulting in a budget deficit of $4.4 billion. The Walker administration took immediate steps to close more than 40 state facilities, reduce the workforce to its lowest in fifteen years, and cut state spending by 44%.

Even after all those drastic actions, a large dividend would have overdrawn the the Permanent Fund, the equivalent of someone taking more from their retirement account than is sustainable.

Alaska’s 40-year-old dividend formula, lacking a modern overhaul, was pushing Alaska towards insolvency. While the Republican-controlled senate passed legislation for a $1,000 PFD, the House could not muster the votes for passage. Following the Senate’s lead, Governor Walker reduced the PFD to the historical average of $1,100. This act of political courage was the toughest decision Governor Walker made while in office. The legislature, including then Senator Dunleavy, chose not to override this action.

By showing real leadership, Governor Walker was able to preserve essential services like education and public safety, without overdrawing the Permanent Fund. This bold action by Governor Walker paved the way for the later passage of the Permanent Fund Protect Act (SB 26). Every legislature since Governor Walker’s decision has also adjusted the PFD so as not to overdraw the Permanent Fund.

Dunleavy intentionally misled the voters about what a governor could do in order to get elected by promising a supersized dividend of $6,700. A governor does not have a checkbook, only the legislature does. After he was elected, Dunleavy realized that the only way to pay out a huge PFD was through cuts that would have closed university campuses and decimated basic services Alaskans rely on, like a K-12 education system. These severe cuts were so unpopular they spurred a recall election against Mike Dunleavy, which was derailed only by a worldwide pandemic.

In reality, Governor Dunleavy never had the power to pay out a massive dividend and his average PFD has been just $400 larger than those under Governor Walker. He’s failed to provide leadership to address the state’s budget which continues to cripple Alaska’s economy, stifling investment and hurting Alaska’s businesses and families.

Paying out enormous dividends today means (1) massive taxes, and (2) the end of the Permanent Fund Dividend program in the future. It’s that simple.

We cannot keep Alaska families here and attract new businesses and investment if teachers must worry about pink slips year after year, coastal communities can’t count the ferry to run, or roads are left unplowed. Bill and Heidi are committed to getting Alaskans the largest PFD possible, which is the largest government dividend in the nation if not the world, which will require honesty about Alaska’s budget troubles, and bring people together to work toward solutions.

Bill and Heidi will:

  • Work with the legislature to resolve the dividend debate once and for all. They’ll do this by setting party politics aside and bringing people together. Bill and Heidi are committed to ensuring we pay the highest dividend Alaska can afford so Alaskans can rely on it, but not at the expense of high taxes and weakened government services such as education and public safety.
  • Grow the Fund. Alaska’s Permanent Fund, valued at nearly $80 billion, is an endowment which is the envy of the world. Growing the Permanent Fund is the key to ensuring economic stability for Alaska today and into the future. As we protect and grow the fund, a sustainable draw could cover 100% of essential government services. This will guarantee Alaskans could live tax-free—but we’ve got to grow it first.
  • Rebuild the Economy. Alaska has incredible potential, but it lacks leadership at the top. We see young people leave the state, businesses shut their doors, and our economy stuck in the mud. Bill and Heidi have a plan to rebuild the economy by investing in Alaska’s greatest resource: its people. A thriving economy will create jobs, help businesses grow and prosper, and help keep more young Alaskans here in our state and stop the hemorrhaging of folks leaving in search of better opportunities elsewhere.
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