Bismarck Tribune Editorial: Cut Taxes Instead of Sitting on Surplus

Definitely not budget blues

If a budget is on target to spend $2.47 billion to accomplish the state’s work adequately, doing everything that should be done, should there by design be so much money left over?

It may be advocated by some that there should be greater tax relief for the people of the state than Hoeven is prepared to deliver, $116.7 million.

North Dakotans would have every right to ask why the state should be squirreling away money while collecting taxes apace from them.

Thinking back two years ago, it’s hard to feature that the upcoming legislative assembly would begin its budgetary task with a reserve beyond normal revenue of more than half a billion dollars. There is little justification for appropriators to be stingy, even if North Dakota thriftiness laces their DNA.

While the committees grind through the details, the legislative body should not lose sight of a possible outcome, the state accumulating more in savings than, per capita, its residents have in theirs.

Probably before the Legislature considers its work done, and the governor signs off on the budget, there should be accompanying legislation that could designate a surplus fund cap and index tax and fee collections to be modified if it’s reached, otherwise further reimbursements of people’s property tax bills could be done, or by some other mechanism a determination could be made halfway through the biennium that excess funds in hand could trigger spending on predetermined projects or programs sitting on the wish shelf.

As I wrote last March, when the suplus was only $100 million, this whole situation is obscene overtaxation of the people of North Dakota.


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