State take-over of funding county social services programs passes House -- with some changes

Apr 13, 2017

Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), the House Minority Leader.
Credit ND Legislature

Rep. Jon Nelson (R-Rugby).
Credit ND Legislature

The House has passed its version of a property tax relief bill.

Like the Senate version , it achieves relief through the state picking up the costs of county social service programs. This will replace the 12 percent buy-down program currently in state law. But the House plan only buys down what a local county levies for those programs, whereas the Senate’s version gives those counties that don’t levy the maximum 20 mills a pot of money to make up the difference between what they  actually collect and what property taxpayers would receive under the 12 percent buy-down.

Some House Democrats fought for a return to the Senate's version.

"If this passes, and it becomes law in its current form, your average North Dakotan is probably going to see an increase in their property tax of about $200 a year," said House Minority Leader Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks). "That is not the commitment and promise that we made."

But some argued the change is good policy -- and the current 12 percent buy down is not sustainable.

"I personally will write a bigger check next year or the following year if this goes through," said Rep. Jon Nelson (R-Rugby). "But I'm willing to do that, because this is good policy."

Once the House amended the Senate bill, it passed 75 to 15. It now goes back to the Senate for further work, and it will likely go to a conference committee.