ND Special Session: After cutting oil tax, Legislators now making statewide budget cuts

Published: Aug. 2, 2016 at 1:35 PM CDT
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Some Democratic Legislators are saying it’s Republicans that created North Dakota’s current budget mess.

Today, during a special session of the legislature in Bismarck, Governor Jack Dalrymple announced a plan to reduce a 310-million-dollar deficit.

It's all left UND facing another major cut that some Democrats say, could have easily been avoided.

Here at the University of North Dakota they’ve already gone through one round of budget trimming. It eliminated 22-million-dollars from their budget. Now, they’re being asked to cut another seven-point-eight-million dollars by August 15th.

It’s known yet what positions or programs will bear the hit.

Reporter: “You don’t know yet whether that will mean cutting faculty or staff?”

Peter Johnson, UND: “We have no idea at this point, what exactly that’s going to end up looking like. We’ll know that in 2 weeks though.”

During the last legislative session, Repulicans lead the charge to cut North Dakota’s oil extraction tax from 6.5-percent to 5-percent.

That eliminated an estimated 200-million dollars of revenue from the current budget, which is about two-thirds of the current budget problem.

The current State budget deficit is 310-million dollars.

Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, (D) Wyndmere: “I could see no reason for us to voluntarily reduce that tax. Most states wouldn’t do that. So, yeah, I think we volunteered for this financial mess.”

Sen. Mac Scheider, (D) Grand Forks: “Where we strongly disagreed with what the majority did, was cutting the oil extraction tax by 23-percent. That according to data from the Legislative Council is estimated to cost the State 13-million dollars a month.”

But for now, state institutions like UND and many other agencies across the state will need to brace themselves for more cuts.

Governor Dalrymple says North Dakota Human Services will be spared from any more cuts. But, State Senator Mac Schneider says, it’s doubtful that reinstating a higher oil extraction tax will be considered during this special session of the legislature.

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