Growing budget surplus, expanding to-do list

North Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2006  | May 2006 issue

Recent estimates by the state have found that tax collections from March 2005 to February 2006 were 18 percent higher than anticipated, generating a budget surplus of about $110 million.

The news gets better: Two separate state pots of money—a budgetary stabilization fund and an oil fund—are reaching their mandatory caps, which add to the state surplus, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Legislative sources put the state's total budget surplus at upward of $300 million, or possibly as much as 15 percent of the state's $2 billion biennial budget.

Not surprisingly, the list of requests for what to do with the budget surplus is growing. One notable proposal came from a legislative committee in mid-March to shift more K-12 funding to the state—from the current 47 percent to 70 percent over a half-dozen years—and away from local property taxes. The full Legislature will have a lot of time to consider the proposal: It does not convene again until 2007.

Ronald A. Wirtz