Governor Jack Dalrymple Orders Another 2.5 Percent Budget Allotment Worth $152 Million

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, left, announces on 7-13-2016 his decision to call for a special legislative session for Aug. 2, 2016 from Memorial Hall in the state Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota. In the background is House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, left, and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson. Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune

The special session of the North Dakota legislature called last month by Governor Jack Dalrymple to address budget shortfalls begins tomorrow with an address from Dalrymple itself, but before lawmakers meet the Governor has already ordered a new 2.5 percent across-the-board spending cut for state agencies.

This comes on top of the 4.05 percent budget allotment ordered by Dalrymple back in February.

You can read the full press release from Dalrymple’s office below, which basically provides some broad details of the legislation Dalrymple and Republican legislative leaders have been working on in the lead up to the special session. An excerpt:

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Jack Dalrymple today directed the state’s General Fund agencies to reduce their 2015-2017 budgets by an additional 2.5 percent to help offset a projected $310 million budget shortfall. The Governor’s use of the allotment process today is part of an integrated plan developed in partnership with majority legislative leaders to balance the state General Fund through a combination of strategic budget reductions and the use of contingency funds.

While the allotment process begins with across-the-board budget reductions in all General Fund agencies, legislation developed by the Governor and majority leaders calls for the Legislature to restore funding for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Gov. Dalrymple on Tuesday will outline the budget plan during his address to the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, which will be convened in a special session.

The allotment not only helps close the budget shortfall by reducing spending, but it’s also a legal prerequisite for tapping into some of the state’s reserve funds. The allotment Dalrymple ordered in February allows them to tap the Budget Stabilization Fund. This allotment will allow them to tap the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund.

Dalrymple’s press release says they’re anticipating a draw of about $75 million Budget Stabilization Fund, plus about $44.3 million in K-12 funding from the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund and $100 million in profits from the Bank of North Dakota.

The allotment itself is expected to close the budget shortfall by about $152 million.

You can read the full press release below, which has more details about the budget fix legislation including this: “The bill also contains a statement of legislative intent that if additional revenues become available prior to the next regular session, the 65th Legislative Assembly should consider early in the regular session the restoration of funds that support behavioral health services, autism and long-term care.”

That language wouldn’t be binding, with revenues having rebounded somewhat it would give lawmakers the basis to restore some spending starting in January.

UPDATE: I think there’s an error in the press release referring to the Budget Stabilization Fund, which requires an allotment to access, and the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund. That caused me to confuse the two funds above. I’ve corrected the error.

UPDATE: Turns out there was no error and the way I wrote the original post was accurate. So fixed it again. That’s what I get for tying to do too many things at once.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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