Lawmakers want your input for how to spend the Legacy Fund

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BISMARCK, N.D. - State lawmakers want to hear from you about how to spend the earnings from the Legacy Fund. Voters approved the trust in 2010, starting with oil and gas tax revenue and a more than $5.5 billion principal. New data shows the state's net earnings were $455 million from 2017 to 2019.

North Dakota's legislature say this interim committee discussing how to spend Legacy Fund earnings is the most important work they'll do the next 18 months. Some members have ideas on where the money should be spent.

"I think people voted for it to be an investment whether it's in roads and bridges, education, solving our health and human services issues,” said Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo.

"I think we can have a combination of tax relief and investment in infrastructure, different areas that may be lacking in some way,” said Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier.

30 percent of the oil and gas taxes go into the Legacy Fund principal, which the state invests. Along with how to spend, they also need to decide how much to spend and how much to save.

"At that point we can decide how large of a fund we need to have and how much of the earnings we need to reinvest to get there as quickly as possible," said Headland.

"As this fund grows and as the earnings continue to grow, what that formula is I think we'll debate over the next year and a half. I don't think we should spend it all or invest it all. I think it should be a combination of both,” said Boschee.

Leaders say there's two options, make the plans themselves or watch a ballot measure do it for them.

"Somebody else is going to put it on the ballot and it might not be in the best interest of the people of North Dakota,” said Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

House majority leader Chet Pollert says the committee will travel across the state to get input.