Lawmakers Say Governor Dalrymple Will Call for August Special Session

Below is a press release which just dropped in my inbox this morning announcing a press conference at the captiol in Bismarck tomorrow where Governor Jack Dalrymple will “provide an update regarding the state’s General Fund revenue shortfall and outline options to resolve the shortfall and balance the General Fund budget on June 30, 2017.”

Lawmakers I’ve spoken to say Dalrymple will call for a special session. One lawmaker confirmed some specific dates for me, saying the session would be held August 2-4.

So what will be on the table for the special session?

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Lawmakers I’ve spoken to say Dalrymple will call for a special session. One lawmaker confirmed some specific dates for me, saying the session would be held August 2-4.[/mks_pullquote]

Another allotment, for one thing. I’m told that Dalrymple may not get into specifics tomorrow, but lawmakers are expecting a roughly 2.5 percent allotment which is necessary under the law in order to tap into more of the state’s reserve funds.

Back in February, when Dalrymple ordered a 4.05 percent allotment, that allowed him to withdraw over $497 from the Budget Stabilization Fund (you’ve probably heard state officials call this the “rainy day” fund). Based on a November 30 balance in that fund of $574 million, there’s probably between $75 million – $80 million left in it.

If Dalrymple orders another allotment it would allow him to drain those additional funds.

The Legislature doesn’t necessarily have to be in session for that part. What they do need to approve is something else on the table, which is the state tapping into profits from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota and the state-owned grain mill.

In recent years, with an oil boom driving revenue windfalls into state coffers, lawmakers haven’t tapped into those revenues which historically have flown into the state’s general fund. In April the state bank announced its 12th straight year of record profits. In 2015 the bank made over $130.7 million.

The lawmakers I’ve spoken to also say the priority on the spending side of things will be to shore up the budgets for human services and corrections which have been particularly hard hit by allotments.

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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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