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Published August 14, 2010, 11:47 AM

Running with Oil: North Dakota voters to decide to save or spend oil tax money

North Dakota voters will decide this fall whether oil tax money should be set aside for future generations. Forum Communications Multimedia correspondent Teri Finneman explains what Measure 1 would mean for you.

By: Teri Finneman, WDAY

To save or spend, that is the battle that lawmakers face in January at the state Capitol. But this November, you can help decide what to do with some of that money.

Measure 1 would require 30 percent of oil extraction and gross production tax revenue to go into a "Legacy Fund." The fund would be frozen until July 2017. After that, the fund's interest would be transferred to the general fund for state spending.

For principal to be spent, two-thirds of the Legislature would need to agree. Not more than 15 percent of the principal could be spent per biennium. The measure has bipartisan support from North Dakota lawmakers.

REP. KEN SVEDJAN/R-GRAND FORKS: “I think we have to concentrate heavily on creating a reserve that will work in favor of North Dakota for years to come.”

However, infrastructure needs have created skepticism if this is the right time for the measure.

KATHY JORGENSON, TIOGA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: "It would be great to see a savings account but, right now, the support needs to come back to the western counties that are producing the oil."

SEN. TRACY POTTER/D-BISMARCK: “The idea that we need to recognize that it's a nonrenewable resource and we don't want to use it all up and then blow through the money and leave our grandchildren with nothing. And so I understand the concept, but I do think that there are better things we can do for our grandchildren, like building up our infrastructure.”

North Dakota voters will soon decide if it's better to save or spend.