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WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 06, 2012, 06:19 PM

North Dakota oil on track to bring in $4 billion

FARGO, N.D. (WDAY TV) - We all know what it is like to find a wrinkled up $10 bill in an old pair of jeans. It is like hitting the jackpot.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

FARGO, N.D. (WDAY TV) - We all know what it is like to find a wrinkled up $10 bill in an old pair of jeans. It is like hitting the jackpot.

Imagine what it must be like to be the state of North Dakota.

Oil money this year is bringing in twice as much revenue as expected.

While the forecast a year ago called for tax revenues of $2 billion, the North Dakota Tax Department says we are now on track to bring in close to $4 billion.

Now, what to do with the money in a state where a $10 billion two-year budget keeps North Dakota running.

The rigs keep cranking out barrels of oil, changing the landscape of western North Dakota and the bottom line of the state's bank balance.

Four billion dollars expected to roll into state coffers this bi-enium. Think back 10 years ago when North Dakota was bragging about $580 million. State lawmakers like Bette Grande, who just helped her son open a business in the oil patch, says all this money doesn't mean a spending spree.

Rep. Bette Grande, (R) Fargo: “Deal with the needs and not all the wants, and we have to have a checks and balance to everything we are doing. It is the people's money and we need to figure out how to do that.”

North Dakota Senator Tim Mathern says now is the time to use the money to invest in the state's future.

Sen. Tim Mathem, (D) Fargo: “A call to action, it's a call to run the state in a different way than the past"

Or face a dire consequence.

"When the days come when the oil is gone, the infrastructure is going to be there to serve those people who stay there. If we don't it will be an industrial wasteland.

House leader Al Carlson says of course it is a lot of money but he says is it sustainable but what happens if we get in a spending mode and the dollars are not here.

Later this month, North Dakota's Office of Management and Budget will release the long awaited forecast of oil revenue for the next two years.

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