State budget cushion will be larger than expected

Aug 7, 2017

Pam Sharp, director of the state Office of Management and Budget.
Credit Office of Management and Budget

North Dakota likely has more of a budget cushion as the 2017-2019 biennium begins.

"When the Legislature left town, they anticipated that our ending balance would be about $30 million," said state Office of Management and Budget director Pam Sharp. She said June tax collections were actually $28 million ahead of the budget forecast. And that will make the cushion $58 million.

But Sharp said there's another item that is boosting the bottom line.

"We have learned that there is some additional turn-back that we didn't know we were going to have," Sharp said. "So that is going to add on to that ending balance as well."

The turnback is unspent general fund money from state agencies.

Sharp said those numbers haven’t yet been finalized, and likely won't be until the end of August.

"But we do anticipate that we're going to be at least $25 million to $30 million ahead of what we thought when the Legislature left town," Sharp said.

Add those numbers up, and the ending balance could be in excess of an important $65 million threshold.

"If the general fund has an ending balance  over $65 million, the excess over that amount goes into the budget stabilization fund," Sharp said.

The budget stabilization fund was drained to help balance the state budget in the 2017 Legislative session.