There Is No "Glitch" In The Outdoor Heritage Fund Formula

The Fargo Forum’s Patrick Springer has an extremely misleading report on a supposed “glitch” in the funding formula for the Outdoor Heritage Fund.

The formula dedicates a portion of oil tax revenues to the fund up to a maximum of $15 million per year, and $30 million per biennium. As things stand now with oil production in the state, the fund won’t hit those maximums in the current biennium.

Springer reports that as a “glitch.”

FARGO — A glitch in the funding formula for North Dakota’s new Outdoor Heritage Fund means the conservation initiative is projected to have only a little more than half of the $30 million authorized for the next biennium.

The fund is projected to raise $17.62 million during the 2013-15 budget, well short of the $30 million cap allowed by the law to fund conservation projects.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund sets aside 4 percent of the first 1 percent of the oil and gas gross production tax, limited to $15 million a year and $30 million in a biennium.

I spoke with Rep. Todd Porter, the sponsor of this legislation, this morning and he told me there was no glitch. Everyone in the legislature was aware of the formula and its outcome, and in fact the House tried to fix the formula to get closer to the biennium caps. But the conservation groups, and their Democrat allies, blocked that attempt to fix it hoping it would kill the bill and clear the way for a constitutional resolution introduced by Democrat Senator Tyler Axness to give the fund as much as $100 million per biennium and the authority to buy up land and mineral rights.

That Democrat ploy stalled, and the conservation groups got stuck with a lower funding formula.

Which, to me, sounds like more of a feature than a bug for this travesty. The size of this activism slush fund is too large if it’s anything larger than zero.

Rep. Porter tells me that the conservation groups are anxious to change this legislation to give the fund authority to buy land and mineral rights, and to increase the funding. Which really illustrates just what a mistake it was for the legislature to open this door in the first place.

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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