Poll: More PFD discussion needed

A new poll by Dittman Research concludes there is a need to engage Alaskans before making any significant decisions about the future of the state’s Permanent Fund dividend.

Poll results released Monday, July 19, indicate that residents are skeptical of a proposal to direct the same amount of limited Permanent Fund dollars to dividends as are spent in support of every state service, including schools, state troopers and road construction.

The poll showed that 54% of respondents opposed the so-called 50-50 proposal, introduced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy four months into this year’s legislative session. One in 10 respondents strongly supported the plan, with 34% expressing some level of support. The poll also found that 71% of Republicans oppose the 50-50 split.

“This poll is an important tool to get a handle on where Alaskans stand on the core plan before the Legislature and advance a solution to the ongoing PFD battle and establishing a permanent solution to the fiscal crisis,” said Speaker of the House Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak.

“Alaskans were heavily engaged from the very beginning of the creation of the Permanent Fund and the dividend program in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. “We need to be sure they’re involved today before any changes are made.”

The poll also yielded several other key findings:

  • The governor’s current proposal would draw down the Permanent Fund by $3 billion to fill state budget gaps in years ahead that would be created by the 50-50 proposal. In the long run, that means either large taxes or deep cuts in spending to close the gap. Two-thirds of Alaskans oppose this approach.
  • Another aspect of the Dunleavy plan calls for protecting and setting a dollar amount for the Permanent Fund dividend in the Alaska Constitution. Fifty-three percent of those responding to the poll oppose placing the PFD in the constitution if it requires new taxes, and support for placing the PFD in the constitution if it requires cuts is tied 48% to 48%.
  • Since the state adopted a Percent of Market Value management approach to the Permanent Fund in 2018, a significant majority of state revenue comes from Alaska’s investment account, and the degree to which oil revenue supports state services is significantly diminished. Just 35% of Alaskans are aware this shift occurred.