Burgum Signs Remaining 53 Bills From Session, Issuing Just One Veto

Governor Doug Burgum TOM STROMME/Bismarck Tribune

“Gov. Doug Burgum has signed the remaining 53 bills from the recently adjourned 2019 legislative session, exercising his veto authority on one additional bill,” a press release from Burgum’s office says this morning.

The veto was of the line item variety, excising Section 19 of SB2015.

This is what that section said:

The full bill, which you can read here, was the budget for the Office of Management and Budget which is typically used by lawmakers as a sort of “christmas tree” bill on which they hang all sorts of unfinished business from the rest of the session. So the bill tends to be a mishmash of issues.

Burgum, obviously, didn’t like Section 19. He had some strong words for it in his veto letter (read in full below):

This section would have changed the timeline for when Legacy Fund earnings count in the general fund. Currently those funds count in the same biennium they’re transferred in. This bill would have made them count as part of the beginning fund balance for the next biennium.

Burgum, who fought a lengthy political battle with lawmakers over using Legacy Fund fund earnings for various initiatives (notably the Theodore Roosevelt Library project), has argued that lawmakers seek to manipulate budget debates by accounting tricks which hide money.

He’s right. Lawmakers need to get away from gimmicky accounting. If they can’t make sound fiscal decisions without hiding money, perhaps we need to elect a better sort of lawmaker.

Here’s his full veto letter.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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