District 39 legislators expect a tough session ahead
By Neal A. Shipman
As the North Dakota Legislature readies for the start of its 2021 session this week, Senator Dale Patten and Representatives Keith Kempenich and Denton Zubke, who represent District 39, are expecting a tough session as state revenues have fallen due to the drop in oil prices, as well as the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the state’s finances.
“Oil tax revenues make up over 50 percent of the state’s budget, and more when you factor in other revenue streams as a result of the industry’s impact,” states Patten. “When this biennium ends this summer the projections show that we will end up okay from the budget standpoint.”
The only reason that Patten says the state’s budget will be in a good position is that income during the first year of the biennium exceeded projections. But as a result of low oil prices and the impacts of COVID-19, state revenues were substantially below projections.
“The next biennium will be more difficult to manage,” states Patten. “But it is anticipated that with careful budgeting, the use of the Budget Stabilization Fund and the use of some Legacy Fund earnings, we will be able to balance the budget.”