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Budget committees pass slighly lower revenue forecast

Courtesy ND Legislature

House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved a revenue forecast that’s slightly less than the December forecast.

It anticipates $170 million less in the general fund. But it is an “interim” prediction, as a new full forecast will be released in March.

"It respects reality," said Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "There is less money coming in. And we can anticipate less money coming in at this stage."

Former Governor Jack Dalrymple had to use his allotment powers twice in 2016 to cut budgets across the board. He also drained the budget stabilization fund, and used the k-12 stabilization fund to make sure schools didn’t have to make the cuts.

Holmberg said it’s a good thing the Legislature is in session to deal with budget and revenue changes.

"We'll be able to make the priority decisions in a much fairer manner than across the board allotments," Holmberg said. "Allotments are more of a meat-axe approach, where a scalpel should be used."

The forecast assumes less sales, income and insurance premium tax collections. It also lowers the per-barrel oil price forecast – but keeps oil production at 900,000 barrels.

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