This morning during my last day this run as guest host of KBYR AM700‘s The Michael Dukes Show we invited former Senate President Rick Halford and Dr. Jack Hickel, the son of former Governor Walter J. Hickel, to join us to discuss various recent proposals to “restructure” (i.e., cut) the Permanent Fund Dividend.
Within the past six months both Hickel and Halford have written op-ed pieces that ran in the Alaska Dispatch News opposing proposals to cut the PFD. Sen. Halford’s was written first, as SB 128, the Senate’s bill last session to restructure the PFD was heading toward the House. House should vote no to protect Permanent Fund and dividend (June 15, 2016).
Dr. Hickel’s was written later, after the House Finance Committee had rejected the Senate’s proposal but Governor Walker had gone ahead and cut the 2016 PFD by veto. Fiscal plan must strengthen both Permanent Fund and dividend (Aug. 23, 2016).
To be honest, when I first read Dr. Hickel’s piece I was surprised, because I had always understood his father to favor using the earnings from the Permanent Fund to bolster state investment in various infrastructure projects over distribution to individual Alaskans. During the conversation I had the opportunity to ask about that and other things. The answers — and the discussion as a whole — were greatly enlightening.
If for no other reason than because of who they are and how deeply connected to Alaska they have been throughout their lives, in my opinion the conversation is a must listen for anyone seriously interested in the PFD debate. The podcast follows: