That scene from The Simpsons Movie where Homer is given $1,000 just for living in Alaska? Totally bunk.
The payment should have been twice that amount, and Marge and the kids should have gotten it, too.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced Monday that this year's dividend to state residents from the Alaska Permanent Fund is $2,072, with checks direct depositing into their accounts by Oct. 1. That's the highest single-year dividend the fund has ever paid, and a step-up from 2014's payment of $1,884.
The Alaska Permanent Fund was established by the state in the mid-1970s to annually invest a portion of the state's oil revenue for the future. Despite paying state residents a yearly dividend, the fund has done nothing but grow, going from a starting investment of $734,000 to a total of $50.7 billion as of July 2015.
The strange thing about Alaskans getting their largest-ever payout from the state's oil wealth is that the state government is currently working its way through a financial crisis caused by the precipitous decline in the global price of oil. Earlier in the year, Walker said the state had to find a way to close a $3.5 billion budget deficit.
The dividend's total is based on the five-year average of investment earnings for the fund, meaning it's somewhat insulated from year-to-year changes in the price of oil.
The Fairbanks News-Miner reports Gov. Walker found some irony in the fact that "it’s the first time in Alaska’s history the earnings from the permanent fund have exceeded our earnings from oil." He also pointed out that the total cost of the dividends, $1.33 billion, just barely exceeded the total state budget for education.
While state officials wrung their hands over the budget, one person at the Monday press conference who didn't seem worried was Mat-Su Valley seventh-grader Shania Somme, who unveiled the final payment number. She said she was saving her dividend to help pay for college.
Good idea, but at this rate, it may need to be an out-of-state school.