ND Gov.'s Proposed budget: $3.7 billion

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | January 16, 2015

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple's 2015-'17 budget plan includes tax relief and structure change for western North Dakota. The $3.7 billion budget plan has several elements that would increase funding to the Bakken's major oil producing counties.

The Executive Budget includes a 5.4 percent increase in general fund appropriations comparted to the current biennium, $408 million in additional tax relief during the 2015-'17 biennium, $3 billion dedicated solely to statewide infrastructure improvements including highways, roads, water supply systems, airports and critical flood control projects, and an $80.4 million package to improve the state’s park system and to fund statewide conservation projects.

“With this budget, we are taking advantage of North Dakota’s success and strong financial position to advance several initiatives that will have a lasting effect on our quality of life,” Dalrymple said. “Because of our strong revenues and sound fiscal management, we can make major, one-time investments in our priorities while also providing additional tax relief. Here in North Dakota, we can make meaningful investments in our people, our places and the many opportunities for continued progress.”

The budget proposal includes $2.2 billion in one-time general fund expenditures for the 2015-‘17 biennium. One-time investments include “jump-start” funding so that the state’s oil and gas region can begin projects at the onset of the 2015 construction season, including funding for statewide road and water supply projects, funding for state park improvements and conservations projects, funding for affordable housing projects, and funding to help build schools as a result of rapid growth in student enrollments, according to budget documents.

Dalrymple also recommended that the legislature adjust the oil production tax formula. In his executive budget, Dalrymple proposed increasing the region’s share of the tax revenue to 60 percent after local counties collect $5 million in gross oil production tax revenues. The funding adjustment will inject nearly $1 billion more than the oil and gas producing counties of western North Dakota received during the 2013-’15 biennium.

The executive budget also includes $873 million in up-front, supplemental funding so that officials in the oil production region have the funding they need to begin infrastructure improvement projects at the onset of the 2015 construction season. Also included in the budget is $119 million in new energy impact grant funds to help address a wide range of impacts created by rapid growth, according to budget documents.

According to Dalrymple, the recent growth in western North Dakota has created significant challenges and he proposed that the budget includes $20 million in law enforcement grant funds to help equip, train and staff police departments and sheriffs offices in the Williston Basin. The budget also includes $27.5 million to complete the new Law Enforcement Training Academy and will support the addition of four more Highway Patrol troopers to serve in western North Dakota.

Under the budget proposal, the state will invest a total of $3.7 billion in western North Dakota in the 2015-’17 biennium.

During his State of the State address weeks after he provided his budget plans, Dalrymple reiterated his desire to send more money to western North Dakota than ever before. During his address, he reminded the state that his office is committed to a balanced budget and that it will continue to monitor the impact of oil prices. "In the end, I expect our Legislature will find that we can continue to fund our priorities, maintain healthy reserves and provide even more tax relief."