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$1.6B: ND budget surplus continues to zoom

BISMARCK (AP) -- New estimates put North Dakota's budget surplus at a staggering $1.6 billion.

In July the state's budget surplus was estimated at $850 million. That doesn't count $1.1 billion in state reserve funds that have restrictions on how they can be spent.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple credits explosive growth in sales tax revenues for much of the increase.

He says oil exploration in western North Dakota has caused a bigger increase in tax collections than anyone expected.

Dalrymple says much of the surplus should be devoted to one-time public works projects and tax cuts.

A legislative committee heard a report Wednesday on the revenue estimates.

The surplus number also doesn't include money that's expected to flow into a newly established state public works fund. It could have almost $700 million by June.