Group proposes initiative to protect permanent fund

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Voters would have to approve using earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund for state government under a proposed initiative sponsored by Alaskans for Efficient Government.

The group plans to seek approval to put the initiative on the November 2004 ballot, it said in a statement issued Thursday.

The initiative would protect the permanent fund ''from raids by the Legislature,'' the group said.

The Legislature has never approved using the $22.8 billion permanent fund for state government, but some individual lawmakers have proposed tapping earnings from the state's oil wealth savings account to close a nearly $1 billion state budget gap.

Under the proposed initiative, it would take a 60 percent vote of the public to use permanent fund earnings for state government or to change the way dividends are calculated.

Former Gov. Jay Hammond is also a sponsor of the initiative. Hammond could not immediately be reached for comment.

If certified by the lieutenant governor, the group would then seek 40,000 signatures on a petition to get the initiative on the 2004 general election ballot.

Hammond is currently campaigning for Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

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