North Dakota Governor Addresses Oil Prices in State of the State
North Dakota is “stronger than ever,” and depressed oil prices shouldn’t prevent the state from boosting tax relief and continuing the progress made on roads, housing and other priorities, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday in his State of the State Address.
“In the end, our growth may be slowed, but it will not stop,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, said lower oil prices should give rise to concern but not panic, and that North Dakota’s world-class oil play will outlive market swings.
“Does that mean you cavalierly go on a spending spree? Absolutely not. It is something that we want to watch very closely in the near term, but there’s no cause to push the panic button here,” he said.
Dalrymple outlined the state’s challenges and priorities to a joint session of 141 lawmakers and other dignitaries who packed the Capitol’s House chamber as the biennial legislative session got under way.
The Republican governor said the state is making major investments to meet the needs of its growing population. His $15.7 billion budget proposal for 2015-2017 is more than triple the state’s $5 billion budget in 2003-05, and he said “some may ask if spending is getting out of control.”
He said it’s a fair question, given the recent drop in oil prices and its potential impact on revenues in the No. 2 oil producing state behind Texas. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude, a benchmark against which North Dakota oil prices are measured for the purposes of triggering oil tax exemptions that could cost the state billions in lost revenue, dropped to about $48 a barrel Tuesday, down from over $100 last summer.