Almost a year ago I wrote a column wondering if Governor Jack Dalrymple had the leadership qualities to be a post-oil boom governor.
As I note in my newspaper column today, I think we have an answer to that question in 2016. Now that the oil boom, and the tsunami of revenues which came with it, have dried up the always spend-happy Dalrymple seems lost.
And three out of four of the candidates running to replace Dalrymple – Republicans and Democrats both – seem to agree.
Democratic candidate Marvin Nelson: “We are in a state of crisis, and it seems that our governor has left the room.”
Republican candidate Rick Becker: “I’ve long said I would like to see leadership and the executive more proactive than reactive. I guess that’s cliche, but in this case, there’s a tendency to not want to admit where we’re at and to push off the necessary data to pretend we’re not in the place we are.”
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Republican candidate Doug Burgum: “If a CEO presented such a dramatic drop in revenue to his or her board of directors with a message of ‘everything is fine’, he or she would be quickly looking for a new job.”[/mks_pullquote]
Republican candidate Doug Burgum: “If a CEO presented such a dramatic drop in revenue to his or her board of directors with a message of ‘everything is fine’, he or she would be quickly looking for a new job.”
It’s notable that Burgum was an honorary chairman of Dalrymple’s re-election campaign in 2012.
The lone dissenter among Dalrymple’s potential replacements was Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
“Contrary to what Rep. Nelson and others have suggested, North Dakota is not at the edge of the abyss,” he said.
“Years ago, the Legislature wisely provided for a process to make appropriation reductions to cover times when commodity prices drop and revenues fall short. We are still going to take in more money than we did in 2011 and have millions in reserve. Any spending cuts are on top of record spending and spending increases.”
“The governor went beyond his statutory allotment duty of a 2.5 percent cut and required state agencies to slash 4.05 percent,” he added. “If another cut is necessary, that should be done following the next revenue forecast this summer.”
But I’m not sure that Dalrymple has done enough. In my column I contrast his leadership on statewide budget issues with that of interim University of North Dakota President Ed Schafer’s handling of his institution’s budget shortfall.
Schafer, a former governor himself, is worth watching. He has been a visible and accessible leader, guiding his constituency through painful changes.
I just don’t think you can say the same of Dalrymple.