Amendment aims to repay money never allocated to school and resources funds

Bismarck, ND – This week, a plan was put in place to repay millions of dollars that were potentially misallocated over the past decade.

A certain percentage of oil extraction taxes were supposed to go to the Common Schools Trust Fund and the Resources Trust Fund every year. A new amendment proposed this week will make sure the money is repaid. 

For the past two weeks, lawmakers have grappled with how to handle funding that was never put in its appropriate spots.

“It took a long time to get this where it was. It’s going to take a while going back,” Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Rich Wardner (R-District 37) said.

Wardner proposed a plan to repay the funds. It had been estimated as much as $200 million was never paid to the Common Schools Trust Fund and the Resources Trust Fund.

“When it comes to putting the principal back into the Common Schools Trust Fund, that’s important because that earns more earnings as we go forward and it’s a constitutional fund,” Wardner said.

The proposed amendment includes a one-time transfer of $64,370,000 at the end of the next biennium for the Common Schools Trust Fund.

For the Resources Trust Fund, the state will add an addition of 0.5% in tax allocation until the $128,740,000 is repaid. That could take several years. But once that number is hit, the 0.5% would be dropped.

This idea is meant to help the state still invest in other needs.

“General fund, balancing, taking care of priorities, so we would be short of that,” Wardner said.

The finance and taxation committee has given the idea a do pass. But the chairman, Senator Dwight Cook (R-District 34) did not.

“My personal feeling is that it’s an unnecessary amendment,” he said. 

“If you’re going to look back, I think the amendment he brought is the best way to do it. It’s still basically a shell game in my mind. Its taking money in this pocket and putting it in another pocket, but if we’re going to do it, that’s the best way to do it.”

Now the entire Senate will have a chance to weigh in.

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