Is Jay Hammond having the last laugh

Alaska’s Permanent Fund and the Permanent Fund Dividend was the brainchild of Jay Hammond. The origins of the idea was from the sharing of the income from salmon runs (a renewable resource) in the area he lived. It was extended to the creation of a Permanent Fund from the receipts from oil (a non-renewable). His intention was to keep the oil money from the politicians (he being one). So he pushed through the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend as well. The Governor’s Solution has a chapter by Jay Hammond explaining his rationale.

There is a catch. Only 25% of the oil receipts is saved in the Permanent Fund. The remaining amount is spent through the government budget. Due to this oil money, Alaskan does not have income taxes. When oil prices were high during the China boom, things were hunky dory. However, with the price drop, the government budget was under incredible strain. As has happened many times before, the Alaska Governor looked to the Permanent Fund Dividend to balance the budget. While this has the backing of big business (who don’t want to pay more taxes), the move has been widely unpopular with the people. It is proving very difficult for politicians to lay their hands on the Permanent Fund Dividend. Hammond may well have the last laugh.

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