Use of bank profits debated
By Dave Thompson
Bismarck, ND – Democrats in the North Dakota Legislature have long complained that the state's budget is balanced because of use of profits from the Bank of North Dakota.
The Bank is providing $60-million in profits to the state's general fund. In addition, the 25-million dollar state Rainy Day fund is in the Bank -- and Governor Hoeven has had to dip into that fund.
House Minority Leader Merle Boucher (D-Belcourt) sponsored a measure to say that the first 15-million dollars in Bank profits should be set aside for economic development loans, specifically loans to value-added agriculture projects.
"I would hope we seriously consider this measure," said Boucher. "Number one -- to protect the solvency of the Bank of North Dakota, and number two, utilizing the Bank and returning it to its original mission -- investment and venture capital."
House Majority Leader Rick Berg (R-Fargo) says the Bank has been a great source for the general fund. And he doesn't want to adversely affect that.
"That money has helped increase education funding. It's helped with our funding for human services. And it's helped us move our state forward," Berg said. "Every nickel that we dedicate to other purposes takes money away from our general fund."
Boucher's bill was defeated 66 to 27.