The legislature worked late into the night last night (or into early this morning, if you’d rather) hammering out the last remaining taxing and spending issues. And according to Legislative Council’s tentative last analysis as of 11:30pm last night (the final numbers may vary from these slightly), the state is in for a whopping spending increase.
You can read the full report below.
On the revenue side, they’re projecting $6.9 billion in general fund revenues for the coming biennium, a $679 million increase (and it will most assuredly be about double that with the oil boom still booming). Legislative council is projecting an $87 million ending general fund balance.
But the spending side is where the news is. Governor Jack Dalrymple started with an executive budget of $4.786 billion. The House and the Senate added $2.076 billion to it leaving the state with $6.862 billion in general fund expenditures, a 62% increase over the last biennium.
Which is all just state spending. It’s money taken by the state from taxpayers and used to buy-up local property taxes. The $200 million in tax credits is a one-time deal. The $665 million represents a permanent, on-going burden on the state budget.
“We have too much money,” one House member said to me last night, “and we’ll have even more next time considering how we’re projecting.”
But it’s hard to imagine this rapid growth in spending is responsible even in a booming state like North Dakota. What’s particularly aggravating, from the taxpayer’s perspective, is that at the end of the legislative session the final wrangling wasn’t over concern for all this spending but rather concern over too much tax relief.
If we wanted massive spending increases to be easy, and tax relief to be hard, couldn’t we just elect Democrats?
(Picture shamelessly stolen from reporter Dale Wetzel’s Facebook page)