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State revenues still ahead of forecast

The state of North Dakota is still ahead of what it was expecting to collect in taxes – even considering the effects of the pandemic.

"The amount collected through September is $93 million, or 2.8% higher, than the original revenue forecast," State Budget Director Joe Morrissette told the Legislature's Budget Section. "That is certainly positive news, as we are continuing to track slightly ahead of forecast, even through the pandemic."

Morrissette told the Legislature’s Budget Section that would give the state treasury an ending fund balance of $137.2 million.

Morrissette said the state’s Budget Stabilization fund hit and exceeded its $726.5 million earlier in the summer. That’s based on 15% of the two year appropriations. The amount over that cap -- $369,000 – was transferred to the general fund.

Morrissette said since that time, the fund has an extra $10 million.

"That reflects investiment growth for the months of July and August," Morrissette said. "That amount will continue to grow, and will stay in that fund until the '21 fiscal year closes out, when any amount over the cap would again be transferred to the general fund."

One of the leading indicators of North Dakota’s economic health is in sales tax collections.

"Sales tax was slightly below forecast, by 4 and 1/2%, or $3.4 million," Morrissette said.

But Morrissette said that's actually good news.

"Because when we updated the forecast, we expected shortfalls of 15 to 20% at this point in the biennium," Morrissette said.

Morrissette said the prediction was that sales tax collections would be off by about 18 percent at the end of fiscal 2021, compared to fiscal 2020.

"To see this much narrower shortfall was positive," Morrissette said. "It's now tracking very close to the forecast for the biennium to date."

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