BISMARCK -- The initiated measure that would cut the state income tax is a risky, permanent and radical proposition, a Washington, D.C., policy group said Thursday.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities came to North Dakota to present its analysis at events in Fargo and Bismarck and warned it would harm the state's economic future.
Nicholas Johnson, state fiscal project director for the center, said no one in North Dakota asked the group to Cole reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald. speak against Measure 2, but it took notice because it studies such issues, and "this one really stood out as a very dramatic measure."
He also clarified, "I'm not telling anyone how to vote."
Measure 2, on the Nov. 4 ballot, proposes to cut the state individual income tax by 50 percent and the state corporate income tax by 15 percent.
Johnson said the cost of Measure 2, if it passes, is more than $400 million over the next two years and even more in the following bienniums.
"When the current economic boom ends, the loss of such a magnitude of revenue is likely to undermine funding for schools, infrastructure and public services," he said.
He also said that it would throw the state's tax structure out of balance and could prevent other broa- based tax changes that could benefit more North Dakotans.
North Dakota already has the lowest personal income tax of states that have income taxes, Johnson said.
He said Measure 2 would disproportionately aid "a small member of well-off households" and mean very little to those making $50,000 a year or less.
Johnson distributed an analysis showing that a family of four with an income of $25,000 or less would gain less than $1 from the initiative.
A spokesman for the group sponsoring the tax cut said there's no need for North Dakotans to read the center's 10-page report or seek aid in making a decision about the measure.
"They're going to look at a (projected) $1.3 billion surplus," said Dustin Gawrylow of Americans for Prosperity's North Dakota chapter, and come to the conclusion that "they're overtaxed."
This is not the first time the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has spoken out on a North Dakota initiated measure. In 2002, when the Democratic-NPL Party sponsored a tax credit measure known as the North Dakota Youth Initiative, state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson hired the center to dispute the high price tag that measure opponents said it would have.
The measure was designed to attract and keep people younger tha n 30 in the state. That November, 67 percent of voters rejected the measure.