This is going to get a bit more technical than many of my other posts. However, I am a big believer that there is no reason to shy away from complexity, particularly when avoiding it sacrifices accuracy. So we are going to discuss forecast performance for sales tax in North Dakota. There are many different ways to evaluate forecasts and the one I will use here is called a tracking signal.
I’ve talked about this on the radio for the last few weeks already, and talked to national media about this too. I thought I would just briefly mention here some of the items people should be looking at with these budget revisions. Here is a link to the announced revisions to the document.
The issue of property tax valuations is a familiar one to most people in North Dakota. I came across this article about the situation in Michigan through a tweet. It is about a month old but it raises some interesting questions. The focus of the debate in North Dakota, as far as I ever heard, has been property taxes paid by individual homeowners. In Michigan businesses are challenging valuations, winning, and the local areas are dealing with revenue shortfalls as a result.
The legislative session is in high gear and on March 18th the OMB released what they are calling their March 2015 Revenue Forecast (found here). This is an updated revenue number for the legislators, and I think it comes as no surprise that some of the numbers were down, especially oil. Looking ahead to the 2015-17 biennium the forecast is for a decline in oil revenues by $869,745,374. That is on top of more than $100 million less in the remainder of the current biennium. Does this number seem plausible? Sure.
A recent report out by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (available as a pdf here) looks at the connection between state tax rates and migration between states. Or maybe it does not. They find little connection between changes in state tax rates and the migration between states.