North Dakota General Fund Revenues Down $301.5 Million From Last Biennium

The latest general fund revenue report from the North Dakota Office of Management and Budget.

In a comparison of the revenues to date in the current 2015-2017 biennium through February to the same time period from the 2013-2015 biennium the OMB is showing a slight 0.7 percent increase (see above).

That’s actually a slight improvement over the January report from last month which showed a 0.2 percent decline in revenues. In fact, based on these numbers, North Dakota’s revenue situation doesn’t look that bad:

imageExcept, these figures are misleading. If you look at the table at the top of the post, you’ll notice that there was a transfer into the general fund which is obscuring the tax revenues picture.

“That was a transfer from what used to be the property tax relief fund into the general fund,” OMB Director Pam Sharp told me back in December. “It was provided by the legislature to transfer into the general fund. At the end of the biennium the legislature eliminated the property tax relief fund.”

There was a similar transfer of over $341 million in the last biennium, which you can also see in the report above. While it’s right and proper that these funds to the general fund should be accounted for in the OMB’s reports, since those funds did flow into the general fund, they do hide the state’s big decline in tax revenues.

If we take the transfers out of the picture, and look only at actual revenues, the state has seen a more than 18 percent decline in revenue – or a nearly $301.5 million decline – in general fund revenues in the first eight months of this biennium.

Though that’s actually an improvement from December when the state’s revenues were down 25 percent (again, absent transfers).

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

image (1)

But even without the transfers, the revenue to date in the 2015-2017 biennium is about where we were in 2011-2013. Which, as you can see from the first chart in the post, was a big increase from the biennium before.

The state’s revenues are down from the record-setting tidal wave of the oil boom years, but we’re still not down to pre-oil boom levels.

The state’s revenue headaches are a product of too much spending. Not too little revenue.

Here’s the full OMB report.

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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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