Imagine what might happen if every elected official attempted to inform constituents of the most significant current issues being addressed by policy makers. What if said elected officials provided expert overviews with suggested options for solving problems? Would Alaskans arrive at better results without the default political position of throwing more money at problems? THAT would be novel. Well, that is exactly what Eagle River Rep. Lora Reinbold and other community leaders did on Tuesday, October 24 at an event held in the auditorium of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmussen Center. Each presentation lasted 10 minutes, and each examined how money is being spent by the State of Alaska. After the presentations, audience members asked questions and heard measured responses.
Hotly debated currently is the propriety of placing a cap on Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend. Most Alaskans recently deposited their $1100 check. Without the slice Gov. Bill Walker took to help offset the budget deficit with which he is faced, the check would have been twice as much. Generally considered the “father” of the dividend was Jay Hammond, governor of the 49th State at the time the measure was enacted. This writer has met all of Alaska’s governors since Bill Egan. Not to brag—it was just part of the job he held. They all meant well and some were more popular or more successful than others. Jay Hammond happens to be one of my favorites.
Some newer Alaskans may not understand why they will be receiving a check from the Permanent Fund after only one year of living here. They might wonder why the government is handing out money instead of forcibly taking it with an income tax. For the benefit of new and old Alaskans, let’s look at the evolution of this bounty distributed annually to those who have lived here at least one year.