North Dakota Politicians: State Can’t Afford A Tax Cut
According to politicians in North Dakota’s government – both Democrats and, unfortunately, Republicans – the state simply can’t afford tax cuts without also making significant cuts to spending.
State Senate Minority Leader David O’Connell, D-Lansford, said the passage of both “could be a disaster for the state.”
“It means a lot of programs would have to be cut, and when programs are cut, that usually means people get hurt,” he said.
“It could potentially make us have to cut budgets instead of increase them,” said Pam Sharp, who serves as state budget director under Republican Gov. John Hoeven.
The problem, of course, is that Pam Sharp herself has been predicting over a half a billion dollar state budget surplus. A year ago the projected budget surplus, driven most by oil field revenues, was at $544 million. Now, with oil prices staying at $90+ per barrel, the North Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity is projecting a state budget surplus of at least $800 million.
By the time the next legislative session roles around, the state could easily be looking at a $1 billion budget surplus.
Which makes me wonder if these politicians, when asked by Bismarck Tribune reporter Jon Rivoli what their reaction was to tax cuts, actually managed to keep a straight face when they told him they might not have enough money.
The problem here isn’t a lack of funding. The problem is too much spending. Last legislative session general fund spending in North Dakota was increased 24%, and now we’re looking at a massive budget surplus even despite that new spending. Are we really supposed to believe that there is necessary, high-priority spending projects out there which won’t be funded if the state gives citizens some money back?
I think the real problem these politicians have is that tax relief means they’ll have to curtail spending increases, that that they’ll have to cut any current spending.