North Dakota voters will decide on an amendment to decrease the amount of money lawmakers can spend from the state legacy fund. The amendment is set to appear on the Nov. 5, 2024, ballot.
The amendment, House Concurrent Resolution 3033, passed the North Dakota House of Representatives on April 25, 2023. It was introduced in the House on Feb. 21, 2023, and then passed the House for the first time on March 14 by a vote of 67-24. The North Dakota State Senate amended the measure and passed it on April 10 by 45-1, and returned it to the House to be approved again.
The North Dakota Legacy Fund is a sovereign wealth fund that was established in 2010 when voters approved Constitutional Measure 1 by 63%-36%.
The fund was established to receive 30% of tax revenue from oil and gas production. At the end of each two-year period, the funds accrued earnings are transferred to the state general fund.
Currently, lawmakers can spend up to 15% of the principal of the fund over a period of two years, with a vote of two-thirds of each chamber of the state legislature approving. This amendment, if approved by voters, would decrease this amount to 5%. This amendment would also provide the state treasurer to make a distribution from the state legacy fund to a legacy earnings fund rather than distributing accrued earnings to the state general fund every two-year period.
Rep. Corey Mock (D) is one of the sponsors of the amendment. He said, “Give generations well into the future a chance to reap some benefit off of North Dakota’s mineral resources. The wealth under our feet is something our legislators here 20, 30, 40 years ago never dreamed of.”
As of Feb. 28, 2023, the fund value is at $8.8 billion. Since 2017, $1.3 billion of the fund’s earnings were transferred to the state general fund.
The constitutional amendment is the third certified for the 2024 ballot in North Dakota.