Politics & Government

ND Tax Dept.

North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said he hopes Congress or the courts will start allowing states to collect sales taxes from Internet retailers.

Some of the retailers do submit sales taxes to North Dakota. Under state law, if the retailer doesn’t do it, the customer is supposed to pay. But that law is widely ignored, and not enforced.

The question last came up in the “Quill v. North Dakota” case. That case went to the US Supreme Court.

Rauschenberger: Taxable sales down, but leveling off

Jun 30, 2017
ND Tax Dept.

North Dakota taxable sales and purchases were down 5 percent for the first quarter of 2017, compared to the first three months of 2016.

"We are basically at our 2011 levels right now," said Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.

Taxable sales and purchases for the quarter were nearly $3.7 billion. The largest sector – retail trade – was at $1.3 billion. Rauschenberger said retail sales dropped slightly – but it was a much smaller decline than in the past few years.

ND University System

A casualty of a tight state budget.

The Board of Higher Education has decided none of the 11 college and university presidents will be getting a raise. Neither will the Chancellor, or the staff at the University System office.

That’s in-line with the decision by the state Legislature to not give salary increases to state employees.

The last time the presidents received a raise was in 2014.

Board member Kevin Melicher of Fargo said while everyone understands the state’s fiscal situation, this can’t continue for very long.

Miller named WSC president

Jun 28, 2017
Williston State College

The Board of Higher Education has appointed John Miller as the president of Williston State College.

Miller had been acting president since June, 2016 – when former president Dr. Raymond Nadolny left. Miller has been the Vice-President for Academic Affairs since 2015. He had applied to be the president before Nadolny was hired.

University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott said Miller has done a tremendous job as the acting president – at a time of stress and difficulty on campus, due to Nadolny's early exit -- and a difficult budget sitaution.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Board of Higher Education has given North Dakota State College of Science President John Richman the go-ahead to begin a fundraising campaign for a new career workforce academy for Fargo.

Richman had asked the board for that authority last November – but the matter was tabled.

The academy would be similar to a career academy on the Bismarck State College campus. That building is owned by the Bismarck school district.

ND University System

The proposed fiscal 2018 budget for the North Dakota University System office is $65.8 million.

That’s down from $91.7 million in fiscal 2017.

Of that figure -- $4.2 million is spent on governance. The rest goes to student grants, technology and other projects.

But some members of the Board of Higher Education’s Budget and Finance Committee say there’s some mis-information about this line item.

Board member Nick Hacker said some people believe all of that goes to administration.

State income tax collections down

Jun 26, 2017
Office of Management and Budget

The latest report from the Office of Management and Budget shows income tax collections in May were about $19.8 million lower than the March revenue forecast.

"We have found that there were about 28,000 fewer filers than had filed in the previous year," said OMB director Pam Sharp. "Of those filers, the average adjusted gross income went from $71,000 to $68,500 per return."

Sharp said that reflects the slowdown in the state’s oil economy in 2016.

A dispute between the McKenzie County Commission and its suspended sheriff is now before the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Legislative Management Committee is preparing to take Gov. Doug Burgum to court.

The issue is whether or not Burgum can veto conditions placed on certain appropriations without vetoing the expenditure.  In a few of the bills he used his line-item veto on, Burgum took out some language – and left the money in the bill.

The Committee vote was unanimous.

Minot State University

The president of Minot State University is raising concerns about the University System’s move to “per credit hour” tuition rates.

Steve Shirley told the Board of Higher Education’s Budget and Finance Committee – tuition rates are “banded” at Minot State, as well as UND and NDSU.

"That allows a student, whether they're taking anywhere from  12 to 18 credits to pay a flat rate," Shirley said. He said under the new tuition policy, NDSU and UND would be able to keep that “banded” tuition – but the others likely would not.