As has become an election year tradition, North Dakota Democrats called for a special session of the Legislature to address budget issues.
They’re concerned that, despite a billion dollar budget short fall brought on by declining revenues from oil and gas activity, the state is cutting too much spending.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Anyway, Governor Jack Dalrymple shot the idea down. Under state law the Legislature can only call itself back into session if it hasn’t used all of its constitutionally-limited 80 days of session. The Legislature used all of its days last year, and so only the governor can call them back into session.
“We have a plan that will carry us through this year I think just fine, and everyone is telling me that the real decisions to be made are about the ongoing budget going on into 2017-19,” he said.
I think the governor is right.
While I could quibble with some of the budget decisions made to address the short fall – I wish Dalrymple had ordered more cuts so that we could have left more dollars in reserves – there is a plan in place for the rest of the current biennium which ends June 2017.
What’s more a new legislature will be seated and debating the state’s finances well before then, starting in January. That legislature will be made up of people North Dakotans vote to elect this fall.
North Dakota is at a crossroads. We are going to be grappling with what the “new normal” looks like now that the oil boom is over.
In 2017 we are going to have a new governor, and new faces in the Legislature, and we should leave the fiscal choices up to them.