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$1.1B for western North Dakota approved

BISMARCK -- Western North Dakota will see $1.1 billion to address issues due to the rapid energy development once Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs a bill passed Thursday.

Senate lawmakers passed House Bill 1358, which changes the distribution formula of the gross production tax on oil so western counties can receive more money, as well as Williston, Dickinson and Minot, which fall under the new "hub cities" created in the bill.

Williston will receive $57 million during the 2013-15 biennium; Dickinson, $26 million; and Minot, $7.5 million. The funding is based on the percentage of oil workers in each hub city.

Under the bill, counties will receive $315 million; cities would receive a total of $197 million; schools, $49 million; and there is $270 million for townships, airports, dust control and other areas. The bill also will provide $310 million in various other appropriations, such as $280 million for the Department of Transportation for roads.

House legislators approved $250 million in corporate and individual income tax relief Thursday. The vote was 89-1 for Senate Bill 2156.

Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier, said while he is pleased that residents will get tax relief, he is disappointed that legislators didn't do more. Headland also sponsored House Bill 1250, which would have provided $350 million in tax relief but was defeated in the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. Close to $20 million will be distributed to disabled or elderly residents through the homestead tax credit.

Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2171, which expands the tax credit by increasing the amount an applicant can claim in value assets from $75,000 to $500,000 and expands the income brackets used to compute the credit for homeowners and renters.

For instance, someone could be making $36,000, be over 65 and hold $500,000 in assets and still qualify for a discount in property taxes. The bill includes Social Security as regular income.