State oil extraction tax allocation

BISMARCK, N.D. - State engineers and the labor commissioner say the state treasurer's office misallocated a quarter of a billion dollars by putting it into the general fund.

And now, it's become a constitutional question.

Many state agencies support a bill to clarify whether oil tax money from the Fort Berthold Reservation should have been split between several accounts and not just the general fund.

The state land commissioner says extraction taxes out of the state break down in five categories: the common schools trust fund, the foundation stabilization fund, the Legacy fund, the water resources trust fund and the general fund.

She's been in her role for a year and says since it's her first session she's been asking A LOT of questions and realized for more than a decade her office hasn't been receiving their sliver in oil tax money.

In an oil rich state, there's taxing agreements with reservations like Fort Berthold on oil extracted.

Under the North Dakota state constitution a percentage of revenue from those taxes imposed are to be allocated to a special trust fund. The common schools trust fund, the foundation aid stabilization fund and the state legacy fund.

But many say those funds haven't been distributed in years.

"This is simply a banking error and a mix up in the treasurer’s office. Which is fine, just address the issue and make it right. I'm hoping that they'll amend this bill to make it right," said Roscoe Streyle, concerned citizen.

He hopes they not only fix the issue moving forward but also make it right from when the mistake first happened.

"If we feel per our interpretation that those buckets should've been filled. And if it can be interpreted any other way then we do need to add that clarification. Our board feels that the constitution actually lays it out very clearly," State Land Commissioner Jodi Smith.

They both say the constitution lays it out clearly.

Wednesday during a Senate committee hearing, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt testified in support of bringing more clarity to where those funds should be going. She says her office has worked diligently to distribute funds accurately.