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Should North Dakotans Get Alaskan Style Oil Payments?

In the opening of the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies”, Jed Clampett was just out shooting at some food when up from the ground came a bubbling crude.  After which he loaded up his family and they moved to Beverly…Hills that is…swimming pools and movie stars.

mrdorkesq/Flickr

That’s one way to make your oil money- of course in Jed’s case the oil was discovered on land he owned.  But how can you make money off of oil if you don’t own the land?  Well you could load up your family and move to Anchorage.

canno1979/Flickr

Following the Alaskan oil boom, the state created a Permanent Fund Corporation to allocate some of the financial windfall to residents of the state- sharing the wealth with it’s population.  This year, some members of North Dakota’s legislature would like to put the matter to a public vote in the 2014 general election.  Currently state law forbids the government to allocate money to state residents.  So voters would have to go to the polls to make it happen.  This humble reporter predicts a LANDSLIDE victory in favor of government payouts from the oil patch.  Seriously, what would be the opposition? In one word- Infrastructure.

freedom house/flickr

The Bakken region is getting trashed by truck traffic.  Her pristine prairies pummeled by people and pumps.  What shall we turn to when the wells run dry? (Don’t panic- yet) Well it’s a good thing we’re already prepared to deal with that possibility because we have this!

“North Dakota’s oil tax fund now has about $850 million in assets. The Legacy Fund gets 30 percent of the state’s oil tax collections. None of the money can be spent until 2017, and even then it takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to dip into it. North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt says $57.8 million has been deposited into the fund this month. It’s been collecting oil tax revenue since September of 2011.”

YAY!  We’ve got a buncha money in the bank already! So now that that’s taken care of- HOW MUCH WE GONNA GET PAID? Here’s how they figure it in Alaska:

  1. Add Fund Statutory Net Income from the current plus the previous four fiscal years.
  2. Multiply by 21%
  3. Divide by 2
  4. Subtract prior year obligations, expenses and PFD program operations
  5. Divide by the number of eligible applicants

Let the bean counters do the math and we’ll take the cash. In Alaska the lowest annual dividend payout was around $330 in 1984 and the highest was $2,069 in 2008.  2008 was also the year Mama Grizzly Sarah Palin and the Alaskan Legislature authorized another $1200 on top of that- making 2008 the year eligible residents pocketed over $3,200 each!

That should be pretty easy to drum up public support in 2014.  Might even get me one of the Cee-ment ponds Jed Clampett had.

fast_ck/flickr

 

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