PFD rally brings out governor’s ardent Mat-Su supporters

Governor Mike Dunleavy addresses the “Rally to Restore the PFD” in Wasilla. The crowd overwhelmingly favored his position on a full permanent fund dividend. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

Governor Mike Dunleavy held a rally Thursday night in Wasilla in support of a Permanent Fund Dividend amount that adheres to the law established in 1982. That would yield PFDs of about $3,000.

Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Price introduced the governor’s plan.

“There are some folks out there that think that we shouldn’t have a say in how our PFDs are spent,” Price said. “That’s not what this governor thinks. That’s not what these legislators that represent you here in the Valley… that’s not what they think.”

Legislators have been divided over how much money should go to dividends. Proposals by lawmakers have set amounts ranging from $900 and $1,600, up to the full $3,000. Supporters of the smaller dividend amounts say paying out a full PFD isn’t sustainable.

Dunleavy has stated he would veto anything less than the full amount. He addressed the debate at the rally.

“They’re not really talking about compromise. They’re talking about capitulation. They want you to capitulate. They want you to give up and move so far to that side that you know longer recognize who you are or who you represent. And quite frankly, I refuse to do that,” Dunleavy said to applause from the audience.

In the audience, there was no vocal opposition to Dunleavy, who represented the Mat-Su area as a state senator and won the area overwhelmingly when he was elected governor. Upwards of 300 people attended the rally. Signs waved with messages such as”Hands off my PFD” and “No PFD theft.” The administration also showed a video with Mat-Su-area legislators backing the governor’s plan. His message to the audience was to contact their legislators, thanking those who back full PFDs and politely opposing those that do not.

Dunleavy says even though the audience at the rally was primarily represented by lawmakers who support him, he’s delivered the same message at townhalls and forums across the state.

“We’ve been all over the state of Alaska, from Ketchikan to Nome to Fairbanks to Tok, Delta, Glenallen, Mat-Su, Anchorage, Kenai,” Dunleavy listed. “We’ve been all over the state here the past two-and-a-half months.”

Dunleavy held the rally at Everett’s Mat-Su Valley Resort in Wasilla, at a cost of about $2,500 according to spokesman Matt Shuckerow. The money came out of the governor’s fund.