Roughly 34% Of North Dakota’s Budget Is Federal Money


I wrote earlier today about the national “fiscal cliff” fiasco proving that local government dependence on federal spending was foolish. I thought it would be worthwhile, in addendum, to share some of the numbers indicating just how dependent North Dakota is on federal spending.

According to a pamphlet of North Dakota’s financial facts created by the state Office of Management and Budget for legislators in advance of the upcoming session, in the 2011 – 2013 biennium federal money makes up 33.9% of total state spending:

As you can see, since the 2005 – 2007 biennium federal dollars in the state budget have increased 52.7% in relation to an overall increase of 82% in total state spending.

The share of federal spending as a percentage of overall state spending has decreased since the 2005 – 2007 biennium, from over 40% to 34%, but that has more to do with the rapid growth in spending from state revenues which has increased nearly 104% over that time.

Federal spending in North Dakota has increased dramatically even over just the last few bienniums (my numbers don’t even include federal monies going straight to county/township/municipal governments). Given the relative fiscal health of North Dakota’s budget, and the absolute mess that is the federal government’s fiscal situation, wouldn’t it make sense for North Dakota leaders to begin weening the state off federal spending so that any impending national “fiscal cliffs” in the future put the state at less risk?

That would be the prudent thing to do, but federal money is like cat nip to far too many local officials. Too often, they just can’t say no.

Rob Port

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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