KODIAK — Recently, in issues of the Kodiak Daily Mirror, there have been several articles decrying Governor Mike Dunleavy’s efforts to provide a full PFD (about $3,000) to virtually every man, woman and child in Alaska. This would come at the expense of reducing or eliminating some legislative social welfare programs and some non-essential, but nice-to-have, programs. KDM has focused its reporting almost exclusively on the adverse consequences of enacting these cuts.
What has been missing, in my opinion, is the overall balance between what is being lost (legislative social programs) and what would be gained by having a full PFD payout.
The governor was elected by a majority of Alaskans, and one of the major planks in his platform was payment of a “full” PFD. In voting for this payout, I believe most of us understood that there would need to be budget cuts; however, just which cuts and how much remained to be determined at that time. So, now we know.
On the table today is consideration of a PFD individual payout of about $3,000. The question is: should the Governor’s plan to pay each eligible Alaskan this amount prevail? Or, should the legislature’s plan to pay each Alaskan a PFD payout of $929, (about one-third of this amount) and use the remaining two-thirds for social programs prevail? The difference between the two plans is about $2,100. So, is it better for the legislature to take this $2,100 and spend it as they choose or should it be distributed to each eligible Alaskan family and let them spend it as they choose?
Here in Kodiak, a significant number of families do not earn enough to get by. We know this. And since our community depends upon these workers in order for our community to prosper, maybe as a community we collectively owe it to (the majority of) them to see that economically they can make ends meet and that they and their families can live a decent life here on Kodiak Island?
Today’s economy is very tight for many of us, and this “our economy today is booming” is nonsense. Today mom and dad have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet; 40% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. So, whereas KDM recently focused on the potential financial losses to a hypothetical, elderly cannery worker if one of the legislature’s supplemental income programs was reduced or eliminated for him, against this should we not weigh the potential benefits to another equally-deserving, hypothetical cannery worker’s family of four. For four times $3,000 apiece equals a PFD payout of $12,000 for this family — which equates to $1,000 per month for a year. That’s enough to feed this family for a whole year and represents a 50% increase in this family’s annual income (based on a tax-free salary of $25,000/year).
So one might ask, which PFD plan (legislature’s or Governor’s) provides the greater good for all in our community?
All of which, of course, is just my opinion.