Lawmakers: Give counties more ND oil tax money

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013
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Onstad's bill is co-sponsored by Republican Reps. David Drovdal, of Arnegard and Keith Kempenich of Bowman, both of whom are from oil-producing counties. Sens. John Warner, D-Ryder, and John Andrist, R-Crosby, also have signed on the bill and are from oil-rich counties.

Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider said he and other lawmakers from areas outside the oil patch are sympathetic to allowing oil-producing areas to keep a much bigger share of the oil-production tax, at least temporarily.

"It only makes sense to keep most of the wealth where it was created," said Schneider, D-Grand Forks. "I recognize they have literally paid the price."

North Dakota is slated to collect more than $3.8 billion in oil taxes for the current two-year budget cycle that ends June 30. The state is forecast to collect another $5.2 billion in oil taxes in the upcoming budget cycle, Onstad said.

Schneider and Onstad said the money that would be used for the one-time expenditure already has been collected and would not threaten funding for any other projects in the state at present.

"It's not a budget-buster," Schneider said.

For comparison, the $2.4 billion that would be directed to oil-producing counties under the proposal nearly matches the state's entire two-year budget in the mid-1980s.

Schneider and Onstad said they do not favor increasing taxes on oil producers but rather reallocating the revenue to oil-impacted areas.

"We want to take care of the goose that laid the golden egg but we want to make sure we take care of its nest too," Schneider said.

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Follow James MacPherson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/macphersonja.



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