A State Looking For A Second Chance Looks To North Dakota - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

A State Looking For A Second Chance Looks To North Dakota

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North Dakota is one of the wealthiest states in the nation with $4.5 billion in surplus and reserves.  That includes the Legacy Fund -- a place where a portion of the oil and gas taxes sit for the future generations of North Dakotans.  It's a concept West Virginia lawmakers want to learn more about.

In a matter of a few years, North Dakota has managed to storehouse $1.3 billion from its second energy boom.  West Virginia is hoping the second time's a charm for them, too.  "This really is an opportunity, a second chance, for West Virginia," says Senator Rocky Fitzsimmons (D-WV).

While coal mining has been a part of West Virginia since the state's inception, lawmakers never translated that rich resource into a legacy for future generations.  During the last half-decade, the state has experienced an oil and gas boom.  Lawmakers say they're looking to do things differently this time around.

"When we look to a similar state like North Dakota and we see what they've done with their legacy fund, we thought we'd come out and talk to our friends about some of the benefits of a fund and some of the problems," says Senator Fitzsimmons.

And North Dakota is eager to share.  "We've created a trust fund for future generations, and I like to say, generations not yet born," says Senator Dwight Cook (R-Mandan), Chairman of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee.

North Dakota acknowledges different states do some things differently.  "Alaska started their legacy fund in 1976.  They have $45 billion in it.  We have $1.3 billion in it now, so we have a long ways to go before we can afford to send checks out to every citizen like Alaska does," says Senator Cook.

West Virginia isn't the only state to check-out North Dakota.  California recently sent a fact-finding delegation.  About all this, Senator Cook says, "hey, you know what?  It's nice to be the 'Joneses.'  It tells us that we're doing something right.  I'd love to be in that West Virginia legislature dealing with these issues.  I remember the struggles that we had.  We worked through them and now they're going to work through them."


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