ND Budget Surplus - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND Budget Surplus

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North Dakota is sailing along in uncharted waters, enjoying the best financial times in state history. The oil boom out west and growth in the east have pushed 1.6 billion dollars into state coffers. On the surface it sounds great, but when everyone has their hand out, it can be a double-edged sword for decision makers who spend your tax dollars.

Tonight, a closer look at potential winners and losers in the budget surplus battle, and whether it's being spent on your priorities.

It's easy to see why expectations are so high among North Dakotans -- the amount of money the state has right now is impressive. In fact, if you do the math, if you divide the 1.6 billion which is the budget surplus by the roughly 700,000 people in North Dakota, it works out to about $2,300 dollars per person.

House majority leader Al Carlson says his three goals for the upcoming 2013 legislature are funding priorities, making sure there's a reserve, and making sure some of the surplus goes back to state taxpayers.

Dickinson representative Shirley Meyer is hopeful that everyone wins, adding that the wealth being generated out west requires a different approach to western North Dakotan infrastructure needs and demands.

Carlson agrees, but adds that eastern North Dakota, after years of flooding, has its own infrastructure demands -- creating what could be an all-too-familiar tug-of-war in Bismarck early next year.

Carlson, whose party enjoys a majority in both the House and Senate, says much of the focus will be on impact money that the state has set aside -- $600 million -- which will take care of several challenges.

To help lawmakers,  we asked you on our Facebook page about North Dakota's budget surplus and how you'd like to see it spent, and we listed five categories. Keep in mind, this is totally unscientific... But in the end, we got a good response and here's how they stacked up:

1. Education K-12

2. Tax Reductions

3. Infrastructure Development

4. Oil Tax Distribution

5. Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act (PPACA, aka. "Obamacare")

You can still express your opinion by going to our Facebook page.

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