<< All News Saturday, October 21, 2023 - 03:41 pm

Gov. Doug Burgum today expressed his disappointment that the agenda for next week’s special session of the state Legislature does not include proposed income tax relief that would utilize part of the state’s $288 million in excess revenue from the 2021-2023 biennium, calling on lawmakers to reconsider the proposal.

The governor called the special session to address the 2023-2025 appropriations bill for the state Office of Management and Budget (OMB) after the North Dakota Supreme Court issued an opinion Sept. 28 voiding the bill, ruling it violated the state Constitution’s single-subject rule.

In addition to addressing the OMB budget, Burgum worked with legislative leaders and other lawmakers to propose $91 million in income tax relief. The tax relief would be supported by excess revenue from the 2021-2023 budget, which ended June 30 with a general fund ending balance of $1.488 billion – a record amount that was $288 million over the legislative forecast used in April, due to strong revenue collections and greater-than-expected general fund turnback from state agencies.

“We applaud Majority Leaders Lefor and Hogue, as well as two other members of the committee, for supporting the tax relief and putting the interests of citizens above bureaucratic processes. When government collects more tax revenue than it needs, our first option should always be to return money to the taxpayers. This proposed tax relief would allow North Dakota workers and homeowners to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets so they can invest it in their families, their communities and themselves,” Burgum said. “While we appreciate the desire to limit this special session to those items voided by the Supreme Court, we’re shocked and disappointed that Legislative Management failed to forward tax relief and some other common-sense proposals for the full Legislature to consider, missing a golden opportunity to ease the burden on taxpayers at a time when high inflation is still choking Americans. When state revenues far exceed expectations, tax relief should always be on the table, and we urge the Legislature to reconsider this proposal.”

The proposed income tax relief would raise the income threshold for the bottom (zero percent) tax bracket so that more North Dakotans would pay zero state income tax, and those who still had to pay income tax would pay less. The income threshold for the zero percent tax bracket would be raised from $44,725 to $60,000 for single filers and from $74,570 to $100,000 for married filing jointly. This would bring about 50,000 North Dakotans into the bottom tax bracket, effectively eliminating their state income tax while also helping the state recruit and retain workers.

The governor will deliver his State of the State Address at 9:15 a.m. Monday in the House chamber to kick off the special session.

Legislative Management also voted down several common-sense proposals that fixed language for the recently passed income tax reduction for military members, which would have correctly included all our state’s military personnel despite their status. Also not moved forward were simple proposals that would have given the University of North Dakota authority to sell land and allowed Bismarck State College to begin work on a new building supported by non-state dollars. All of these proposals were straightforward, cleanup provisions to reduce red tape.

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