N.D. releases updated revenue forcast, shortfalls continue to grow

(KFYR)
Published: Mar. 9, 2017 at 3:26 PM CST
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Thursday, the state of North Dakota released an updated revenue forecast that revealed the financial shortfall is continuing to grow.

The legislators now have a little more information to work with before they make their final decision on the budget.

This revenue forecast committee hearing didn't produce numbers legislators wanted to hear. The 2017-2019 biennium is going to be tighter than anticipated.

"Compared to what they thought they were going to have, they're going to be short about $46 million in the current biennium, and another $103 million short then what they thought they were going to have for next biennium," says Pam Sharp, Director of Management and Budget.

Lawmakers will be facing a difficult decision the remainder of the session on prioritizing spending and cutting budgets.

"They're going to have to look at either transferring some more revenue from another source into the general fund, or making some more cuts in the budget to get next biennium's budget balanced," said Sharp.

Some cuts Governor Doug Burgum is proposing is having state employees pay 5 percent of their healthcare premiums.

"If we don't have people engaged in the cost of healthcare, then we're never going to turn the corner on helping us figure out how to reduce healthcare costs, which are driving a huge portion of our state budget," said Gov. Doug Burgum.

Sharp says a slight increase in oil activity would result in significant energy and sales tax revenues that could balance the state budget

Based on Thursday's revenue forecast the second half of the legislative session will be difficult for legislators and state agencies that will be forced to make further budget cuts.