As I write this Governor Jack Dalrymple is delivering a speech at a press conference, and in that speech he’s announcing that North Dakota will have special legislative session. As I reported yesterday, lawmakers will be called back into session starting August 2nd.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have been issued a list of talking points aimed at defending a special session. As you can see below, they were distributed by Pat Finken of the Odney advertising firm, and they came from House Majority Leader Al Carlson and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner. One of the lawmakers who received them forwarded them to me. These were sent to the private email accounts of the lawmakers, so I’ve redacted them.
The talking points look to highlight the ways in which North Dakota was prepared for a budget short fall while also providing answers to the questions that will no doubt come from critics of the Legislature.
It’s an interesting read, and illuminates the difficult position lawmakers find themselves in.
Back when the oil boom was booming, and a tidal wave of revenues were rolling into state coffers, there was intense pressure for lawmakers to spend. And spend. And spend some more.
The big gripe from Democrats, the political opposition to the Republican super majority, while all this spending was going on? They wanted to spend even more.
But now a day of reckoning is here. Per Legislative Council, from the 2005-2007 biennium to the 2013-2015 biennium the average biennial increase in general fund appropriations was over 36 percent. And while general fund spending in the current biennium was down 12.1 percent (before the allotments ordered by Dalrymple during the interim), appropriations approved by lawmakers for the current biennium were 157 percent higher than just a decade ago.
Revenues and spending hit record highs at the peak of the oil boom, but we always knew the oil boom wasn’t going to be the new normal.
I just wish lawmakers had been a little more reticent back during the throes of the boom, so that the budget pain today was a bit less severe.
Here are the talking points, which you’ll probably be hearing from your local Republican leaders soon:
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