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Borders 187: The Permanent Fund – Golden Goose of Alaska

These days, the Permanent Fund of Alaska seems to be a permanent source of distress. Discussions about the amount of the dividend and the use of the proceeds to pay the state government keep the pot boiling.

It's not that we intend to add fuel to the fire in this week's Borders program, but we think this is a good time to step back and see what this unique Alaskan institution provides for the state.

Despite all the political tensions in the context, there is still an air of excitement in October. The extra cash injection makes the pursuit of happiness in Alaska full of promises.

Many have compared the Permanent Fund with that proverbial goose with golden eggs, which has produced a constant supply since 1982: a cumulative $ 25 billion in dividends, money that has changed the state in some surprising ways.

We will analyze some of the long-term and short-term impacts of the fund, as well as the growing fear that state policies have put the Alaskan gold egg producer in mortal danger.
These are some of the highlights of this week:

• Golden eggs: a visit to the popular Fire Island bakery in downtown Anchorage to discover how Alaska's spend their PFD. We also visited Mouhcine Guettabe, an economist at the Institute for Economic and Social Research, to see how this unexpected annual gain helps the state in surprising ways.

• Permanent defenders of the fund: we heard two leaders of this group, Dr. Jack Hickel and former Senate President Rick Halford. Its mission: to protect the fund through an amendment to the state constitution.

Defenders of the Permanent Fund argue that the best protection for the fund is a full dividend, based on the traditional formula. If that had been the case this year, the people of Alaska would have received a PFD of approximately $ 3,000.

Others say we need to reduce the dividend to save the dividend, to avoid a raid on the fund corpus, when the state runs out of money completely.

In this week's program, we gave the Defenders most of the time. In the past, we have heard more from other perspectives, such as those who feel that it makes no sense to pay large dividends against massive cuts to state services, especially those that serve the most vulnerable, so consider this other installment in A Conversation in progress on the Permanent Fund. In the future, I would like to make a program that analyzes the efforts of the Working Group of the Bicameral Permanent Fund of the legislature. This group of legislators is methodically analyzing the history of the fund to guide us towards what we expect to be successful elections.

When we remember the days when the state constitution was drafted, and later, during the battle to create the Permanent Fund, we were fortunate to have so many leaders who tried to look 20, 30, 40 years in the future and not just the next elections.

In fact, it would be a great thing if 25, 50 years later, the Permanent Fund still paid dividends, along with a sense of sanity and predictability restored in the Alaska budget process. .