Burgum says budget is going strong

Mike Kennedy and Mike Nowatzki
Devils Lake Daily Journal

Preliminary figures show 2019-21 budget exceeded expectations with $1B positive balance

BISMARCK – Gov. Doug Burgum  welcomed positive news regarding the state’s two-year budget cycle that ended June 30. Preliminarily figures indicate a positive balance of more than $1 billion in the general fund for only the second time in state history.

The 2021 Legislature expected general fund revenues to total $5.4 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, but preliminary revenues show the state will likely collect $5.7 billion.

As a result, the estimated ending balance of over $1 billion in the state general fund will be nearly $320 million more than projected in the legislative budget.

“Despite revenue disruptions caused by historic challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme drought and low oil and farm commodity prices, North Dakota made it through this last budget cycle with responsible fiscal management and is well-positioned for growth,” Burgum said. “These robust state revenues – including what’s expected to be a record-setting June with over $1 billion in general fund revenues – speak to the strength of North Dakota’s economy and our state’s conservative approach to forecasting and budgeting.”

Strong revenues have increased the state’s rainy-day fund, the Budget Stabilization Fund, to its new maximum balance of $749 million. The fund, which is capped at 15% of general fund appropriations, had already been replenished to its prior cap of $726 million in March 2020.

The Legacy Fund’s two-year earnings totaled $872 million for the biennium, exceeding the legislative forecast by $136 million and bringing the Legacy Fund’s net position to nearly $9 billion. Other revenues exceeded the 2021 session’s legislative forecast by nearly $160 million, including sales tax, which topped the legislative estimate by $39 million, or 2%; individual income tax, which exceeded the forecast by $60 million, or 8%; and corporate income tax, which exceeded the forecast by $42 million, or 22%.

“Federal stimulus payments in 2020 helped maintain strong consumer spending, which was reflected in state sales tax collections,” Office of Management and Budget Director Joe Morrissette said. “Final revenue figures for the 2019-21 biennium are expected in August.”