What a remarkable thing. Our legislature is "giving" everyone in Alaska who receives a Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) an extra $1200 to be added to the coming PFD, which itself may exceed $2000. It started out as an “energy” rebate – and ended up as a “resource” rebate. Near as I can figure, if it’s an “energy” rebate, bush Alaskans who pay for more energy could try to justify a larger rebate. If it’s a “resource” rebate, everyone should get the same amount. It’s the same amount of money disingeniously dressed in different language. Ahh, the magic of language!
The cost of the rebate is $744 million, whatever you call it. This is a one-time, repeat,
one-time rebate, aimed at sharing some of the revenue windfall money generated by record high crude oil prices. And yes, some of the windfall has,
in fact, been saved.
Some Alaskans state they don’t need or want
the rebate. Good for them. I recommend they gave their $1200 to worthy charities or a hungry family. Others say wealthy Alaskans shouldn’t get the rebate money because they don’t need it – but these are the same wealthy people who pay more taxes than the rest of us. If someone makes more money than me, good for them.
Many are saying that too many Alaskans will squander their $1200 rebate on big screen TVs, or something else others calls "frivolous." Probably true. But it’s not
my business as a legislator, to tell you
how you must spend your
money. It’s your money, not mine! Furthermore, however you spend your money, it’ll spur the Alaska economy thereby helping keep people employed.
I’m hearing from folks who complain that homes with a large number of children, will get substantially more than childless families or the “ideal” (in some people’s opinion) family of 2.5 children. Remember, it’s a “resource” rebate to consumers - not money to heat a household. Children are consumers too (big time).
Several Alaskans (including a couple in my own family) are upset that only current PFD recipients will receive the $1200 rebate. The governor’s original plan was also to include Alaskans for the rebate who have been residents for at least six months. It's understandable that those who, through no fault of their own, miss out on the rebate are upset. But it would be a very expensive and impractical process to hire application inspectors to administer a one-time rebate. The PFD verification process and the employees that administer it, are already in place. Limiting the rebate to PFD recepients is probably “not fair” but, in practicality, a line must be drawn at some point.
The Alaska tax of 8 cents is also being extended for one year. It’s not much, but every little bit helps. Fuel is outrageously expensive. I can verify that, having just used my Suburban to haul my RV trailer where I lived during special session back home from Juneau! This gasoline tax relief will help people to afford going to work, as well as commercial drivers all over the state. Predictably, some complain that Alaska already has the lowest fuel tax in the US, so we should keep the tax. Frankly, I don’t care how it’s done outside Alaska.
Extra help, in fact, was
given to lower the cost of electricity in rural communities with a timely a revision to the power cost equalization (PCE) program.
And yes, I did
” for the rebate and “Yes
” for suspending the gasoline tax.