I turned down the Permanent Fund Dividend for about six years after arriving here … a youthful bow to journalistic ethics. The governor and legislature started talking about citizens’ contributions to dwindling revenue, though, and I realized that my noble stand against the taint of the PFD would never protect me from having to pay income taxes. I decided to take the money.
I understand the importance of the dividend, too.
I appreciate both sides of the arguments for and against HB52, which just passed the House yesterday. We don’t want to open the PFD to anyone – and forever. But we don’t want to count someone out who really does want to come back. Although I thought one of the unsuccessful floor amendments would have been a good compromise, as the bill went to a vote, it would have been a hard call to make. No problem with the result.
But as it goes into the Senate, there’s something you might want to know about legislators, the bill, the PFD, and all those people who say they want to remain Alaskans. It’s an annual trade-off.
To remain on the PFD list for ten years after you leave you have to take steps that would justify your being listed. Proof comes from such things as registering your car here, owning and paying taxes on property, having a professional license, or registering to vote (and voting) in Alaska elections.
Not difficult to meet at lease one of those. I’m referring to registering and voting here. It’s free, you only have to do it every couple of years, you can still vote in the federal races – all you have to do is vote for that guy in your district who helped pass a law that continues to give you the cash every year.
That’s a good trade. I vote for my legislator, my legislator sends me a check for maybe a thousand dollars. And there’s nothing more that binds me to Alaska.
It’s not a problem for anyone. At least not now. There’s plenty of money now. However, as people continue to cycle through the state the number of checks going outside will reach a point where you start to notice your share of the dividend is starting to shrink. At the same time you will imagine the cost to the state if all those people were actually to return. And it’s all to protect the income of some guy who left ten years ago after spending three years here.
Maybe that will be when the legislature will have to put on some brakes. Not now.