After well over an hour of heated debate on the floor of the Senate, an amendment to HB1020 (the water commission budget) requiring federal funding be in place for flood diversion in Fargo be in place before state funding is available passed on a narrow 24-23 vote.
The Fargo area has a lot of Senators, and they throw a lot of weight around, so it was a big surprise when this amendment survived.
Here’s video of the debate:
“I don’t see how we as state legislators can approve a federal project with no federal tax dollars,” said Senator Jim Dotzenrod (D-Wyndmere).
That’s the argument which seems to have carried the day with a majority of Senators, and it’s a perfectly valid one. President Barack Obama’s budget didn’t contain funding for Fargo flood diversion. And, frankly, you really have to wonder if spending billions of dollars to re-route a major river for 36 miles is the most efficient way to deal with flooding in the Fargo area.
Especially given the costs it represents in terms of property damage, etc. to the people in the path of the diversion. One group of people solving their flooding problem by sending their flood problems over to another group of people is hardly the makings of sound policy, and when you consider that much of what is driving the cause of Fargo flood diversion is a desire by Fargo economic development interests to build in Fargo’s flood plains, you begin to see that this is less about protecting a community than politics.
Of course, the legislature isn’t saying “no” to state funding for this project. If the feds kick in their share, the state will open up the coffers. But, frankly, the legislature probably should be saying “no.”