Now that they’ve rushed through the really important legislation, lawmakers today are addressing funding for western North Dakota. Both Governor Jack Dalrymple and a group of western lawmakers have proposed funding to address oil impacts and infrastructure to be hurried through the legislature so planning for the summer construction season can begin.
The western lawmakers, led by Senator Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson) and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson), are calling their proposal “surge” funding and it amounts to roughly $845 million.
Governor Dalrymple included what he’s called “jumpstart” spending in his executive budget, and it totals $873 million.
What are the differences? You can see a comparison below prepared for lawmakers by Legislative Council.
Outside of spending a slightly larger amount, Dalrymple’s proposal gives money to the highway department, while the “surge” funding bill focuses on giving money to the counties. In other words, Dalrymple would have the state addressing infrastructure needs whereas the “surge” bill would give the money to local governments.
Which is better? Supporters of Dalrymple’s approach argue that state control over the dollars might more narrowly focus the spending on infrastructure. Supporters of the “surge” funding would argue that local governments know what’s best for their area.
What will be interesting is how quickly lawmakers can work out those differences. We’re on day nine of the legislative session. Ultimately some form of the funding will pass, but if negotiations drag on too long Democrats will begin to make political hay.