I was wandering around my yard, lost in speculation about the future, wearing my favorite noise-canceling headphones, which also pipe in the A.M. radio so you can mow your lawn or operate a very inefficient diesel generator or feed a dog yard full of huskies and still get the local, state, national, and world news piped clearly into your earholes. I was replacing a critical piece of plumbing - the frost-free hose spigot for the garden hose - when through my earphones came the voice of my Senator, who my local public radio station was interviewing.
My Senator said quite clearly in his weekly update interview that the Permanent Fund Dividend would not be much more than $1K per eligible resident this year. He explained it would not be the larger dividend to avoid major overdraws of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account. He further expounded that should the House Minority Republicans shut down the Government by refusing to provide the 30 votes needed for the procedural vote to refill accounts used to pay for the budget, the legislators would be behaving like children or worse (that is not a quote).
As I am boarding a plane in the morning for the Bristol Bay Watershed and all of its richness, it will be like an in-flight cocktail to believe my Senator is right for now in his reckoning that things will get ironed out so that the government will not shut down. This seemingly annual shutdown threat has become rote and dull.
The Governor has a chance to make a generational change by leading his flock of House Republicans into genuine negotiations on revenue generation, which would unlock effective negotiations on the Permanent Fund Dividend and free us from the annual deadlock on the state budget. Quite likely, this Governor is the first in state history to be utterly devoid of a vision, but we might get to watch him catch one at the last minute. The signs are there. A most conservative Governor, who leads a most conservative House Republican caucus, has been unable (though willing to try) to pretzel available logic and math into a reality where we don’t need new taxes. Majorities in the House and Senate hold the key to the Governor’s political holy grail - constitutional enshrinement of the PFD - and will likely make the Governor lead on revenue generation first and bring his House Republican ducklings along too. The elements are all there for a real romance novel ending that the Governor could ride hopefully into the sunset but probably into the next election.
It is so tough to stay tuned in after a year locked inside our respective hidey-holes and grinning in fear into Zoom meetings. The summer is cool and moving along, and we are earthlings just like the green buds and the salmon. It is time to frolic and move along also. Thanks be to the stalwarts still sitting in chairs, at tables, and in rooms arguing consequential numbers that impact our lives. May they be blessed to know that we are counting on them.
Government Affairs Director
P.S. I will send one more blog with your summer homework detail next week.
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