Lawmakers Cut $1 Billion So Far From Dalrymple's Executive Budget

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple

The first half of the 2015 legislative session is over. The House and Senate chambers have each addressed every single bill put before them by their members, rejecting some and passing most.

Lawmakers are now on a break until Wednesday next week. When they come back, what they’ll have to grapple with is a $178 million hole in the budget so far. That’s how much Legislative Council says lawmakers have overspent revenue projections so far (executive summary below, details available here).

Now, to be clear, this isn’t at all unusual. The House and Senate must simply reconcile their differences on taxes and spending in the second half to get that $178 million figure down to zero.

Here’s some of the highlights of the first half:

Lawmakers cut more than $1 billion from Dalrymple’s executive budget.

During the 2013 legislative session lawmakers exploded Dalrymple’s executive budget, taking spending far and above what he called for. This time around lawmakers are so far coming in well underneath Dalrymple’s budget. Here’s the figures:

dalrymplebudget

Spending is up more than $1.7 billion.

While lawmakers have whittled down Dalrymple’s executive budget so far, it’s not like they’re cutting spending. So far they’ve increased appropriations $1.7 billion above the “base” funding levels coming into the session. Total general fund spending, should the legislative session end today, is $6.157 billion while expected tax revenues so far are $5.978 billion.

Here’s the list of increases in spending to the various state agencies:

appropriations

The House and Senate have passed a total of $212 million in state tax relief so far.

The House passed $152 million in combined personal and corporate income tax relief, the smallest income tax cut bill in their chamber (HB1223). On top of that the Senate passed $60 million in income tax relief in the form of $30 million worth of incentives for contributions to the state’s housing incentive fund (SB2257) and $30 million in corporate income tax relief by allowing businesses to reapportion their incomes (SB2292).

Of course, all of this is going to change as the House takes up the Senate’s bills, and vice versa. If anything, we’re probably going to move closer to Governor Dalrymlpe’s executive budget than further away, and lawmakers will be getting another revenue forecast in March which could turn all the decisions they’ve made so far on their heads.

If we get a strong forecast, you can bet lawmakers are going to put a lot of Dalrymple’s spending (and maybe more) back in the budget. If the forecast is still weak, they won’t.

 

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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