Doug Burgum Shows up in Bismarck for Budget Section Meeting

Reader submitted photo

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum speaks with North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott at a meeting of the Legislature’s Budget Section in Bismarck June 27, 2016.

Good job, Doug Burgum.

I’m serious. I am impressed that the Republican gubernatorial nominee turned up in Bismarck for a meeting of the Legislature’s budget section. He certainly caused quite a stir with lawmakers who have been texting me about it this morning.

You can see him at right speaking with NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott in a picture sent to me by a SAB source in the capitol. My source says that Burgum also met with Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner in his office, and as I write this is sitting in the back of the meeting taking notes.

After a primary campaign in which he lambasted state lawmakers for their handling of the state budget he’s now showing up to see how the budget sausage gets made.

That’s a good thing. It’s one thing to whip up voters – most of whom probably couldn’t name their state lawmakers off the tops of their heads, let alone describe accurately their voting trends – with rhetoric about the “good old boys club” repeated ad nauseum. It’s quite another to see how the budgeting process actually works.

Burgum has extensive experience with budgets in the private sector, no doubt, but government budgeting is an entirely different animal. It would be easy for Burgum to lean on his landslide primary victory over Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and see something like attending a meeting of the Budget Section as beneath him.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]It’s one thing to whip up voters – most of whom probably couldn’t name their state lawmakers off the tops of their heads, let alone describe accurately their voting trends – with rhetoric about the “good old boys club” repeated ad nauseum. It’s quite another to see how the budgeting process actually works.[/mks_pullquote]

But he’s apparently not that sort of leader. That’s heartening.

When he’s governor – and he will be once the formality of trouncing Democratic candidate Marvin Nelson is done with – Burgum won’t be an executive in the private sector sense, with the Legislature nothing more than a division of North Dakota, Inc. He will submit proposed budgets to the Legislature. He can communicate his budget priorities to lawmakers. But lawmakers will have their own priorities, and he’ll have to get used to accepting that.

Showing up in person to learn from the lawmakers presiding over our budget in the interim is a good first step in that direction.

I made no bones about my disappointment in his primary campaign, which was long on shallow rabble rousing about the status quo and very, very short on policy specifics, but this move today proves that Burgum will take his job more seriously than his campaign indicated.

I, for one, am happy to see it. Because ultimately this isn’t about being angry at “the establishment.” This is about making sound policy decisions for our state. Now, if only Burgum would start getting specific about just what sort of policies he’d like to implement.

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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