This might be the year of Gov. Mike Dunleavy's statutory Permanent Fund Dividend.
Since the 2018 campaign trail, Dunleavy has maintained that Alaskans should receive a full PFD payment — not to mention back payments for several years in which payouts were shorted.
To date, he has been unsuccessful at convincing the Legislature. During Dunleavy's first year in office, the Legislature once again shorted Alaskans' PFD payment, according to state statutes pertaining to how it's to be allocated.
The Legislature didn't do this haphazardly. It has been dealing with deficit spending and has spent Alaska's savings accounts. A year ago, the state described its financial situation as a crisis. With the economic effects as a result of the novel coronavirus in recent months, the crisis has escalated beyond 2019 imaginations.
Individual Alaskans — at least 50,000 to date — filed for unemployment following the COVID-19 repercussions this spring. Record low unemployment of the past fall peaked as the highest on record only recently.
Dunleavy decided to attempt to somewhat alleviate the economic devastation by releasing this year's PFD in July instead of the traditional October. Each eligible Alaskan is expected to receive $1,000, Dunleavy stated in an announcement earlier this month.
Then at a town hall meeting this week he announced his administration would be talking this summer with the Legislature about a second PFD distribution in the fall, acknowledging that economic circumstances necessitate moving cash to Alaskans and Alaska businesses.
The Legislature is likely to give this suggestion greater regard than a year ago because of the state's economy.
Of course, Alaskans struggling with finances would welcome a second payment. Businesses, which for decades depended on PFD payments to generate revenue at the tourism season's end and before the start of the holidays, would find another payment to be one of several lifelines hoped for this year.
And critical in all of this is that the permanent fund's foundation remain solid.
But, at a time of financial uncertainty for Alaskans, the possibility — or at least the talk — of a potential second PFD payment is an uplifting development.
A payout of $1,000 represents $5,000 to a family of five. With that amount in dividends, an Alaskan's rent or mortgage, as well as utilities and grocery store bills can be paid for at least a month in most cases. By the next month, fortunes might have changed for the better.
It's one step, one day, one month and one PFD at a time in the COVID times.
The PFD might come in two steps this year for a total that’s closer to Dunleavy’s way of thinking.