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North Dakota Lawmakers Will Tap Into State Savings To Endure Through COVID-19


This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysisof states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

North Dakota is facing significant belt-tightening as a result of low commodity prices.

The state's economy is dependent on oil and agriculture, but farmers are receiving less money for what they grow and the drop in demand for oil has led to reduced oil production and idled wells. Additionally, because of a judge's order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline while an environmental impact statement is being completed, more oil will move by rail, making North Dakota oil less attractive to buyers.

When Republican Gov. Doug Burgum issued his guidelines for state agencies to prepare their budget proposals for the 2021-2023 budget, he asked agencies to find between 5% and 15% reductions in spending.

"We as legislators and politicians understand the bottom has dropped out," said Sen. Ray Holmberg, a Republican and chairman of the state's Senate Appropriations Committee. "We have less revenue, no state interest in raising taxes — and that means as legislators we have the luxury of no choice."

Lawmakers will tap into a number of rainy day funds set aside for times like this.

Dave Thompson is the news director for Prairie Public Broadcasting in North Dakota.


Copyright 2020 Prairie Public

Dave Thompson