Here is a recent post in Say Anything Blog about ND's finances:
Mr. Busek brings out an important point that I think many are not aware of: this surplus that you're always hearing about? It is not the accumulation of years of excess revenues. But this is the excess that was generated just since the last legislative session and is money over and above what the state has budgeted to spend. In 2011 the state had ANOTHER $2B surplus and the state spent it all.
Yes, you read that right: Every single penny of the 2009-2011 surplus was spent in the last budget. And in 2009, there was another surplus and the state spent all of that one as well. The current $1.8 billion (and rising) surplus that's pouring into state coffers right now is also slated to be spent, unless we pass M2.
Mr. Busek is right to be concerned with that state of North Dakota’s fiscal safety, security and money management. While ND is blessed with incredible natural resource wealth, it is not blessed with responsible management of that wealth. Instead of managing our wealth the Legislature has been on a 10 year spending binge. That spending binge goes unabated. State spending of taxpayer money has increased more than 135% in ten years, while personal income growth has gone up 61% and the CPI 26%. Instead of decreasing taxes the legislature has recklessly given hundreds of millions to special interests and spent lavishly on virtually everything imaginable. While we have the lowest unemployment in the country and thousands of jobs unfilled – the legislature increased State taxpayer spending (non-federal spending) on welfare from $650 million to $932 million this last legislative session. North Dakota taxpayers spend $200 million each year to subsidize non-resident college student tuition and are then told by the Legislature if they need schools to tax themselves again to get them! Remember the 5% state sales tax was originally intended to be used to provide basic government services to our political subdivision, not pay for non-resident college tuition or grow a massive welfare bureaucracy. Welfare consumes K-12 education; 2 ½ times public safety cost and almost 3 times what we spend on roads.
NORTH DAKOTA’S BUDGET IS SERIOUSLY MISMANAGED.
MEASURE 2 will stop much of this non-sense by constitutionally requiring the STATE fund basic government services before they can fund discretionary and special interest wants. This is why these entities oppose M2.