Fate of PFD could be decided in joint House-Senate meeting

The fate of the $1000 Permanent Fund Dividend cut could be decided on Friday.

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Alaskans wait in line to file their Permanent Fund dividend applications in downtown Anchorage in March 2016. Photo: Rachel Waldholz, APRN
Alaskans wait in line to file their Permanent Fund dividend applications in downtown Anchorage in March 2016. (Photo by Rachel Waldholz, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

That’s the day the House has invited the Senate to meet in Juneau to determine if they’ll override Governor Bill Walker’s budget vetoes.

Walker vetoed over $1 billion in spending. He also delayed a quarter billion in transportation projects.

House Majority Leader Anchorage Republican Charisse Millett said if the Senate accepts the invitation, there could be override votes on each of the 41 separate items that Walker vetoed.

“Obviously, the Permanent Fund and the oil tax credits and the education money and probably the school debt reimbursement are some of the ones that would rise to the top,” Millett said. “But again, those items are in the budget because someone had a constituency for it and it passed.”

The PFD cut was the biggest veto. It may also be the cut that the Legislature is most likely to override. It’ll take three quarters of the Legislature – 45 of the 60 lawmakers – to vote to reverse any of the items.

House Minority Leader Anchorage Democrat Chris Tuck says there’s a lot of interest in overriding vetoes, but there may not be enough votes on any one item.

“I have a sense that there are desires to have veto overrides on all of the items that have been vetoed,” Tuck said “And it’s going to be different groups of people that are going to support one thing over another thing. But I’m not sure if there’s going to be 45 votes.”

Friday is the constitutional deadline for overriding the vetoes.

If the Legislature decides not to, then there will be a new $17 million dollar hole in Anchorage’s revenues that’s mostly cut from the school district.

Walker addressed that issue Tuesday night in a move he called “unprecedented.” He called in to the Anchorage Assembly meeting. Citing his own background in local government, Walker apologized for how gridlock in Juneau is trickling down to the municipal budgeting process.