Alaskans' interest in state government was exceptionally high on Tuesday (September 20), when Governor Sean Parnell announced the amount of the state's yearly dividend check: the share of oil money that each state resident receives just for living in Alaska.
In a news conference aired on live TV around the state, Parnell tore open a golden envelope and revealed that Alaskans will receive $1,174 this year, The Associated Press reports
. The checks will go to 647,549 people -
or 91 percent of Alaska's population -
for a total cost of $760.2 million. Recipients must live in Alaska for at least a year before being entitled to the checks, which should arrive in residents' bank accounts beginning October 6.
The AP notes that the checks are actually the smallest since 2006, and are $107 less than last year's. Parnell explained the decrease by the volatility in oil markets and declining oil production in Alaska, which has long been a concern for state lawmakers. During this year's legislative session, Parnell sought to boost production by aggressively slashing taxes for oil companies, but the legislature held off on the idea
, seeking more time to review the proposal.
Alaskans' annual dividend checks come from earnings accrued on the state's Permanent Fund, a $40 billion reserve account that, since its creation in 1976, has been fueled by oil revenues. The largest-ever check arrived in 2008, when Alaskans received $2,069, according to the AP.