Preliminary state budget forecast due in August

Jul 31, 2018

A new state revenue forecast will be released in August.

"We call it our preliminary forecast, because it's our first look at the next biennium," said Office of Management and Budget director Joe Morrissette. "We'll use it as a basis to prepare the executive budget."

Morrissette said OMB has been working with Moody’s Analytics, and recently convened a revenue advisory group to look at Moody’s numbers. He said the advisory group didn’t make many changes to Moody's numbers.

"It's going to be fairly conservative," Morrissette said. "We're working to factor in some of the changes, such as how the federal tax cuts will affect our revenue based on our tax law here."

There’s one piece of the puzzle that’s still a mystery. That is – what effect the court ruling requiring on –line retailers to collect state sales taxes will have on the revenue numbers. Morrissette said it’s hard to quantify.

"There aren't very good estimates on the amount of sales tax revenues we were not collecting," Morrissette said. "It's hard to know exactly what you don't know."

Morrissette said the state Tax Department has set an October first date for the Internet retailers to start remitting sales taxes.  He said any guesses on that revenue will be just that – guesses.

"We'll have more to go on when we work on the next forecast," Morissette said. "There will also be a forecast during session, and we'll have better information then."

Morrissette said it will have a positive impact on the budget, but quantifying that will be a challenge.

Some estimates say it could mean $30 t0 $50 million more for the state.

Morrissette said the forecast will be updated in the fall, before Gov. Doug Burgum presents his executive budget recommendations to the Legislature in its December organizational session.

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