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Permanent Fund Dividend lawsuit put on fast track

By The Associated Press

OCt. 3, 2016 - The two sides in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Bill Walker's cut to the dividend that Alaskans receive from the state's oil wealth nest-egg are seeking a speedy resolution to the dispute. Sen. Bill Wielechowski says that under a schedule agreed to by the plaintiffs and attorney general's office, a decision would be reached by Dec. 2. The schedule is subject to approval by the judge who will hear the case. Wielechowski is a plaintiff in the case brought against the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

The lawsuit claims the corporation was obligated by law to make available nearly $1.4 billion from the fund's earnings reserve for dividends, in spite of a Walker veto reducing that amount to about $700 million. That cut the yearly check by about half, to $1,022 this year. Walker has defended his veto as necessary to help preserve dividends into the future as Alaska struggles with a budget deficit.