Before deciding how to direct more oil revenue back to impacted counties, the state's lieutenant governor wants to get community stakeholders talking.
Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who will become governor when John Hoeven steps down next month, was in Minot Monday and planned to tour oil country today to get a first-hand look at the road situation.
Dalrymple said it will be a politically charged process to find the right means for getting more money to oil-impacted areas. It will take input from both oil-producing counties and neighboring communities that aren't seeing development but do see effects, he said.
The state currently distributes a portion of oil production revenue back to counties, cities and schools based on a formula that was adjusted to the benefit of the political subdivisions in the last legislation session. But the formula continues to cap total receipts that counties can receive, and counties report their receipts aren't covering costs. The state also has an impact fund from which political subdivisions can apply for money. The $8 million fund received applications totaling about $30 million.
Dalrymple said he will be developing a proposal for legislators that balances changes in revenue sharing against more funding in the impact fund as well as possible increased overall spending in the state's highway program.
"It's a great puzzle that we need to figure out. There's going to be a lot of different views on that," he said.
The state may need to drastically increase money in the impact fund, Dalrymple said. He would be cautious about drastic changes in the revenue distribution formula.
"That's a permanent change for what might be a short-term problem," he said.
His proposed budget to the Legislature next month will include an emphasis on infrastructure spending, including roads, water projects and flood prevention.
"You are looking at a very big commitment to infrastructure, and we are going to be moving forward very quickly," he said.
The state has an opportunity to make one-time investments and establish a savings plan, he said.
"The fact of the matter is, it's true. We can do both, and maybe even provide some additional tax relief," Dalrymple said.
He added that the state needs to be willing to rely more on its own resources because less money could flow from the federal government.
"We have to support our Congress doing what they need to do to start getting the house in order in Washington. We can't be the ones out here saying don't do this or don't do that. We have to give them some latitude to do what they need to do," he said.