North Dakota’s Budget Just Keeps Getting Bigger UPDATE: Surplus Hits $1.6 Billion
The Associated Press reports that the legislative Budget Section will hear updated numbers about North Dakota’s fiscal state later today. Governor Dalrymple is expecting another big boost to the state’s budget surplus. In July the surplus hit $850 million, “not counting more than $1.1 billion in reserve funds that have restrictions on how they can be spent,” according to the AP.
Below is a chart from the Office of Management and Budget showing revenues biennium-to-date compared to the last biennium (click for a larger view). The state’s largest source of general fund revenues – the sales tax – has almost doubled and revenues from individual income taxes (the second largest revenue source) is up almost 50%.
Clearly, North Dakotans are being overtaxed. There is no need for this level of wealth accumulation in state government.
Governor Dalrymple has been touting what he describes as $545 million in tax relief, but this is a very misleading number. Of that figure, $445 million is a continuation of state appropriations to local governments that policy leaders like to call “tax relief” but is really just the accumulation of more local spending obligation to the state level with little actual impact on property taxes. The legislature began this in the 2009 legislative session, and judging by the public’s continued consternation over their property tax bills, it hasn’t done much to help.
The rest of Governor Dalrymple’s plan is income tax relief which, while good, isn’t nearly enough.
“Dalrymple says the surplus should be devoted to 1-time public works projects and tax cuts,” reports the Associated Press. I think it’s safe to assume that Governor Dalrymple, if re-elected, will be heavy on supposedly “1-time” spending and short on tax relief. If his opponent, state Senator Ryan Taylor is elected, we can expected even less tax relief and more spending.
Under neither of these men’s leadership will North Dakota get sort of tax relief it deserves.
Update: According to the Associated Press, the Budget Section heard that the state’s budget surplus is now projected at $1.6 billion.
North Dakota budget surplus now estimated at $1.6 billion, thanks to oil production and expanding economy
— AP_NorthDakota (@AP_NorthDakota) September 19, 2012