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State Budgets cementing with higher revenues than expected

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s called the forecast lawmakers hang their hat on.

The legislative session is essentially a months-long debate on the state’s budget for the next two years.

North Dakota’s Senate Appropriations committee adopted a revenue forecast that will determine where tax dollars are spent over the next few months.

But the numbers have taken a dramatic shift in just the past few months.

Some markets are still on shaky ground, and projections remain a bit of a challenge.

To help form the state’s budget, lawmakers had two forecasts presented to them.

Following a tradition on budget management, the legislature adopted a combination with the most conservative projections.

Lawmakers didn’t think it would look like this.

Back in November, they thought the budget was going to be more work than they thought.

“It’s going to be a bloodbath. I hate to say it. We have to face reality,” said Rep. Terry Jones, New Town, in November 2020.

Five months later, lawmakers are singing a different tone.

Since January, the legislature has adopted a revenue model which includes more than $95 million in additional funds for the next biennium.

In the face of uncertain markets, predictably has been a novelty.

Especially when taking one of the state’s largest revenue streams into account.

“There is still volatility in oil, the price is very volatile, and who knows what country x,y or z will be doing over the next months,” said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.

Still, lawmakers say they’re confident and comfortable with the numbers they’ll be using.

Many of the additional dollars are based on the resurgence of oil production in the state. When the January forecast was introduced, production and the price of oil were much lower.

But industry and state leaders are moving forward with an outlook that includes a return to normalcy soon.

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