BISMARCK – The North Dakota House of Representatives voted 69-24 on Tuesday, February 16, to dismiss a bill that would have used money from the state oil tax savings account to ease property tax for homeowners.
Proponents of the 1446 House Bill, mostly ultra-conservative Republicans, said it would bring money back into the local economy and encourage home ownership in the state. The legislation would have earmarked revenue from the voter-approved Legacy Fund for residential property tax credits and then reimbursed counties for the lost income.
Hazelton Republican MP Jeff Magrum said easing property tax was the number one issue for his constituents and removing the financial burden would allow low-income residents to keep their homes.
However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle rejected the bill as an irresponsible use of state resources. Rolla Democratic MP Marvin Nelson said the proposal was “just not financially feasible”.
Montpelier Republican MP Craig Headland said lawmakers should try to give residents tax breaks, but Magrum’s broader and expensive proposal is not the best way to go. He noted that lawmakers could instead use Legacy Fund dollars to lower residents’ income taxes.
Republican Party leaders have suggested other uses for the money, including a massive bonding package to fund high-priority infrastructure projects across the state. Many lawmakers expect this legislature to provide clearer direction for the use of Legacy Fund revenues after several years of reserve money mainly used to balance the state budget.