North Dakota’s Spending Growth, In Pictures


One of the more useful reports used by the legislature is the Budget and Fiscal Trends report produced for legislators by the Legislative Council. It boils the state’s spending tends down into easy-to-read charts.

Legislators just got their most recent copy of the report this morning, and a few of them were kind enough to forward the report on to me. The full report is below, and is very much worth your time to page through (it’s not that long and, again, pretty easy to understand at a glance) but the legislators who sent me the report flagged this chart specifically as shocking.

It shows appropriations to higher education in comparison to growth in enrollment. As you can see, one of those lines is relative flat and one is not:


What you are looking at (aside from the fact that our university system is nearing $1 billion in biennial general fund appropriations!) is a 150% increase in general fund appropriations to higher education (assuming the legislature follows Governor Dalrymple’s executive budget recommendation) and just an 8.7% increase in enrollment.

And yet, our universities claim they need more funding.

In a perfect world, the legislature would cap appropriations at last biennium’s levels and tell the university system to find the money they need by re-prioritizing the windfall in funding they’ve already received.

But that probably won’t happen.

North Dakota Budget And Fiscal Trends by

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Tim Heise


  • zipity

    B-b-b-but Rob, what about The Children ©…..?

    Or do you also support the killing of puppies along with realistic higher education budgets…?

    • Rob

      You joke, but for some that seems to be the premise of the debate.

  • Tim Heise

    Why so many bills to give certain people raises? I do not get it. Why do they deserve raises?

    For Example:
    SB 2002 Judges
    HB 1002 Sec of State
    Plus others.

  • LibertyFargo

    A similar argument can be made about federal spending vs avg. revenue. I think the stats show Federal Tax rev as a percentage of GDP ranges anywhere from 16-20% (avg). And yet spending continues to go up, up, up. It seems our state is following the pattern.

    So this isn’t really about Democrat & Republican but rather progressive/statism & free-market conservatives.

    • awfulorv

      You spelled Gluttonous Hogs wrong…

      • LibertyFargo

        I’m sorry. Gluttonous Hogs vs free-market conservative.
        Error fixed.

  • matthew_bosch

    Why learn from the financial mistakes committed by all the economically insolvent States in the Union?
    ” Look, we’ll just pay those pensions when they come due. So what if we add hundreds more, i’m telling you, this boom is going on forever…unless of course we are talking about getting rid of property tax, then the boom will end tomorrow and all public services will shutdown.”

  • headward

    I’m guessing higher ed will come back with their economic impact crap. The legislature should also consider all the tuition increases over the past years. The spending trend of higher ed is terrible.

  • awfulorv

    Hasn’t this plot, the skimming of profits off the top by Mafia types, been used before in the movie Casino? Another layer of personnel has been added, in the counting room, but the rest of the scheme is nearly the same.

  • $8194357

    Ahh shucks..
    Lets just join Jack and dance the night away with the Lettermen…
    Crony capitalist spendaholics all over NDak…
    Don’t matter if it is with a D or and R behind the NPL name…

  • Lynn Bergman

    If you wish to determine if this budget is “conservative”, find out the governor’s proposal for any increase/decrease in state historical society staffing. If there is a single person added, this governor is no conservative. Twice the space does not translate to twice the manpower needs. In fact, the case can be made that less manpower is needed with twice the space to work with. When someone finds out, please let me know… I am very curious concerning this single barometer of this governor’s philosophy.

  • jary

    who cares?!? North Dakota is a dead State. This is the kinda stuff that’ll happen when you have no respect for constitutional rights. Taking away property owners rights to allow smoking on their property is just one example.