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State tax collections exceed Legislative forecasts; 'Prairie Dog' bucket begins to fill

North Dakota’s Office of Management and Budget said actual tax revenue collections continue to exceed the legislative forecast.

For September, collections exceeded what was forecast by $77 million, or nearly 57 percent. For the biennium to date, collections are $598 million over that forecast, or more than 21 percent.

State budget director Joe Morrissette said the Legislative forecast came at a time over concerns regarding COVID.

"So our news is very positive," Morrissette said. "We're on a trend of growth in all our major tax types — sales, motor vehicle, and income tax."

Morrissette said he has one word of caution.

"The official forecast is a low bar," Morrissette said.

Morrissette said it is fair to say the state is recovering well, economically, from COVID.

Budget 'buckets' filling

Morrissette also said most of the “buckets” set up by the Legislature for oil tax collections are full, thanks in part to the oil tax trigger, which raised that tax from 10 percent to 11 percent. That’s based on the per-barrel price, which went over $94.69 for three consecutive months. But now that prices are below that level, the tax will likely be back around 10 percent in November.

And this means oil and gas tax money is now flowing into the city and municipal infrastructure fund, commonly known as the "Prairie Dog" bucket.

Morrissette said there is a long list of buckets that have filled up, before money flows into "Prairie Dog."

"The first money has flowed into the 'Prairie Dog' buckets," Morrissette said.

That bucket is split between cities, counties and townships. It's capped at $250 million. Of that amount, $230 goes to airport improvements.

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