Video: Governor Jack Dalrymple Tells Special Session That “Belt Tightening Is the Order of the Day”

This morning Governor Jack Dalrymple addressed the special session of the legislature he convened to address North Dakota’s budget shortfall.

“For now belt tightening is the order of the day,” he told a joint session of the state House and Senate. “I’m confident the people of North Dakota will be supportive of the adjustments you make in this special session.”

Dalrymple told the lawmakers that he was in full support of a committee bill introduced in the Delayed Bills Committee aimed at address the shortfall. The specifics he provided in his speech had no surprises:

  • a 2.5 percent across-the-board allotment
  • a restoration of that allotment cut for the Deparment of Human Services, so they aren’t hit by any further cuts
  • a partial restoration for the Department of Corrections so they see only a 1 percent cut
  • a transfer of $44.3 million from the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund so that no cuts occurr for K-12 schools
  • a $100 million transfer from the Bank of North Dakota
  • a $75 million transfer from the Budget Stabilization Fund which is all that’s left from when Dalrymple tapped it in February during his first round of allotments
  • a statement of legislative intent that if state revenues recover the regular legislative session will consider restoring more of the cut spending

“I made the decision in February that the 4.05 percent allotment was the maximum amount we could reasonable require without serious adverse actions to certain agencies,” Dalrymple said. “In the situation we are facing today one action would have been to order another sizable allotment. However I decided we had reached the limit of what was reasonable through an across the board reduction.”

By law the governor can only order across-the-board cuts, or allotments, on his own. In order to do anything more specific he had to convene the legislature. Because the legislature is in session, restoring funding to the DHS or the Department of Corrections is possible.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”There are always Monday morning quarterbacks who said they knew when the price of oil would go down and what the price of wheat would be,” he said. “Many of you remember being told to spend more even if it meant tapping into our reserves because we were hoarding too much in the capitol.”[/mks_pullquote]

“I have called for your assistance to craft a combination of targeted funding restorations in key areas and making available the contingency funds available to address the shortfall,” Dalrymple said.

He also took a mild shot at critics of Republican handling of the budget situation.

“There are always Monday morning quarterbacks who said they knew when the price of oil would go down and what the price of wheat would be,” he said. “Many of you remember being told to spend more even if it meant tapping into our reserves because we were hoarding too much in the capitol.”

Obviously a shot across the bow of Democrats, that.

“The good news our Legislature had the foresight to set aside strong reserves which will be used for the purposes they were designed,” he said though he warned that the budget headaches won’t be contained to the special session. The next legislative session will have to cut more.

“The 2015-17 budget will be very tight because we will be using a forecast that is very close to the worst case scenario,” he said. “For now belt tightening is the order of the day. I’m confident the people of North Dakota will be supportive of the adjustments you make in this special session.”

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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