Jim Kasper: Legislation to Delay Governor’s Residence Construction Has Been in the Works for Weeks
It was interesting to learn over the weekend that another Legislator will also be introducing legislation during the upcoming special Legislative Session beginning August 2nd, to halt construction of the Governor’s residence.
I have been working with Legislative Council for over a week to draft Legislation to halt construction of the Governor’s residence and it will be ready to go early this coming week. I will be introducing this bill to the Delayed Bills Committee when the special session begins on August 2nd. With the downturn in revenue to the state of North Dakota due to the reduction in oil prices, the slowdown in business activity on main street across North Dakota and the reduced prices our farmers are facing due to the decreases across the board in commodity prices, now is not the time for North Dakota to be building a new residence for our Governor.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Even though no general fund dollars would have been used to build the new residence, I believe that now is not the time to be building a new Governor’s residence when the current residence can do fine for the foreseeable future. [/mks_pullquote]
Even though the funds to build the residence come from the Capital Grounds Building fund and none of these dollars come from the citizens of North Dakota, the prudent thing to do is to put this project on hold.
To clarify the uses of the Capital Grounds Building fund, this fund was established at statehood in the Constitution of the state of North Dakota. The income from the fund is derived from land that the Federal Government ceded to the state of North Dakota with the stipulation that all income from this fund can only be used to make improvements to buildings on the Capital grounds and build additional buildings that the state needs on the Capital grounds only.
Even though no general fund dollars would have been used to build the new residence, I believe that now is not the time to be building a new Governor’s residence when the current residence can do fine for the foreseeable future.
During the upcoming special session, the Legislature, in cooperation with Governor Dalrymple, will be asking many of our state departments to again tighten their belts and reduce their budgets.
By continuing on with the building of the residence we not only send the wrong message to the people of North Dakota, but we also send the wrong message to the great state employees that we are fortunate to have working for the citizens of North Dakota.
Future legislative sessions can always revisit building a new residence, but for now, I believe the right decision is to stop the project and I will be supporting that decision with the introduction of my bill when the special session begins August 2nd.