I asked him about what some have described as a frosty relationship between his administration and the Legislature, and he down played it. “We’ve got 141 members in the Legislature, he told me. “The frost advisory does not extend over the entire body.”
He did push back at some of the actions legislative leadership has taken. After lawmakers changed rules so that his executive budget wouldn’t be introduced as appropriations bills, Burgum says both Chief Supreme Court Justice VandeWalle and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem commented that they couldn’t ever remember things being done that way. Burgum also talked about lawmakers choosing to disregard the executive branch’s revenue forecast.
He attributed these decisions to “a few folks who wanted to have more legislative control.”
On the issue of revenue forecasts, Burgum said “It’s not a best practice to have two different, competing forecasts,” referring to the Legislature commissioning their own forecast which was released earlier this week.
On the issues surrounding his decision to forgo his salary, Burgum told me “it wasn’t a political stunt.” He says lawmakers can appropriate the salary, and his office will simply return those funds to the General Fund at the end of the biennium.
He also commented on a proposal, coming from state Rep. Craig Headland (who is chairman of the House Finance and Taxation Committee), to use Legacy Fund earnings to replace the income taxes over time.
“I don’t agree on using Legacy Fund earnings to go into the General Fund,” Burgum told me. He said he likes the idea of lower tax rates, but wants to preserve the income tax as a “tool” for future state leaders to use.
Here’s the full audio of the show: