JUNEAU, Alaska - Practically every man, woman and child in Alaska will get nearly $2,000 each in oil royalties next month, the biggest payout since the annual checks were first issued in 1982.
The booming stock market was credited with the 11 percent increase over last year's dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund.
More than 585,000 Alaskans - everyone who lived in the state for all of 1999 - will get $1,963.86, compared with $1,769.84 last year, the previous high, the state announced Thursday.
The cash surge of $1.15 billion is likely to fuel a binge of spending on everything from hot tubs to college tuition to cheap whiskey. Each year, businesses ranging from small-town groceries to Alaska Airlines try to cash in on the boom each year with sales and special offers.
In some of Alaska's rural villages, the dividend is sometimes the only significant influx of cash residents have to pay for boats, guns and ammunition they need for subsistence hunting and fishing.
Much of the money will be garnished by the state to pay delinquent child support, back taxes, overdue student loan payments and other debts.
Alaskans pay no state income tax and no state sales tax, and much of the state's budget is covered by oil taxes and royalties. Voters created the Permanent Fund in 1976 as a savings account for some of those royalties.
On the Net:
Alaska Permanent Fund: http://www.apfc.org