MINOT, N.D. — “We’re facing a hell of a crisis if we’re not careful,” a state lawmaker texted me late one evening this week.
We were talking about the budget, and he was sharing with me some of the status updates from last week. Today, the lawmakers received, from Legislative Council, new numbers detailing the impacts on revenues and appropriations their session has had so far.
The top-level takeaway is that this Legislature loves big government. Not just as measured by the authoritarian bans on books and pronouns they’ve passed. By dollars and cents, this Legislature has been downright profligate.
As things stand, lawmakers are set to increase general fund spending by an eye-watering 25%, bringing it near the peak of oil-boom-era spending from a decade ago, as shown in the graph below. Calculating by total spending — which includes spending directly from special funds and reserves as well as federal dollars — we’re currently looking at a more than 11% increase.