New Revenue Forecast Shows Improving Budget Numbers but Burgum Says Cuts Still Needed

Gov. Doug Burgum, center, leads his first North Dakota Industrial Commission meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, with Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, second from left, and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, right. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

North Dakota’s Office of Management and Budget has released a new forecast for North Dakota’s tax revenues, and the numbers are an improvement over previous forecasts.

According to the forecast, released by Governor Doug Burgum’s office, revenues for the rest of the 2017-2019 biennium are projected to be 4.4 percent (or more than $136 million) more than the forecast used during the 2017 legislative session.

Revenues for the 2019 – 2021 biennium are expected to be 9.5 percent higher.

If you’re curious about how the state’s revenues have been performing in the current biennium so far, it’s worth noting that the most recent general fund revenue report from the OMB, covering revenues through July of this year, shows that we’re ahead of the legislative forecast by 3.4 percent or more than $88 million (as you can see at that link, we’re pretty much breaking even compared to the previous biennium’s revenues).

This is all positive news, but Burgum is still preaching budget conservatism, noting that lawmakers used hundreds of millions of dollars in reserve funds last biennium to make ends meet. These new revenues don’t completely fill that gap, which means that more budget adjustments are needed to avoid dipping into state reserves again.

“While this recent revenue growth is a good sign for our economy and is on track with the estimates we have used for budget planning purposes, it does not diminish the need for a structurally balanced budget and a conservative approach to spending,” Burgum is quoted as saying in the release from his office. “This conservative yet reasonable preliminary forecast shows we still face a significant challenge as we seek to balance ongoing revenues and expenditures, fund our priorities and provide salary increases to team members next biennium.”

Here’s the full release from Burgum’s office:

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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