ND House Votes Down Bill For New Governor’s Residence

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The politics around compensation for elected officials are always strange. The taxpayers see lavish pay and perks as being unseemly, and perhaps rightfully so in some situations, but at times the public’s opposition to anything increasing the pay or comfort of public officials borders on the absurd.

Right now many legislators serving in Bismarck are going out of pocket to pay for meals and lodging because state reimbursement rates are too low. Legislators get a pittance, too, in terms of pay for the time they serve. And believe it or not, but the Governor North Dakota absolutely needs a new residence. The current residence has a host of problems – including mold, asbestos and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act – and it would be more cost effective to tear down the current residence and build a new one.

But Governor Dalrymple, like Governor Hoeven before him, is opposed to building a new residence because they don’t want to be seen as self-serving. They’re so afraid of public backlash that they won’t speak in favor of a new residence even when it’s clear one is needed.

Today the state House debated and voted down a bill, HB1379 introduced by Rep. Randy Boehning, which would have appropriated funds from the state building fund (as well as some private dollars) for a new residence.

Here’s the video of the floor debate:

Rep. Jerry Kelsch argued that the legislature shouldn’t approve a new residence if the governor isn’t speaking in favor of it. I thought Rep. Jim Kasper had a nice rebuttal, though. “It’s not the governor’s position to make this decision,” said Rep. Kasper pointing out that asking the governor to weigh in on the bill puts him in an awkward spot, “it’s this body’s position to make this decision.”

Of course, if the legislature had approved this bill, I’m told the governor would have vetoed it anyway, so it’s a moot point.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • whowon

    I was a kid when they built the current one, I’m anything but now. We always called it the Governor’s mansion, guess you had to leave the state for 30 years to realize it is just a house!

    • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

      How much are the property taxes?

      • Lianne

        What does that have to do with this?

        • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

          There are way too many houses in this state getting sweetheart property tax exemptions.

  • Guest Observer

    Damn site cheaper to get it repaired/remodled than spending 3 mill building a new one. The governor is not royalty.

    • RCND

      In his defense, he never asked for this bill to come forward

  • Opinion8ed

    Maybe Spendrymple can move into that fancy museum they are building on the Capitol grounds

  • jimmypop

    for once the gov is right. he doesnt need a new house. much less a conf center….sheesh. there are NO SHORTAGE of places to meet in that town. the only shortfalls happen every other year for 4 months.

    lets say he did need a new house, it should not cost more than $500,000 to build a NICE house. a VERY NICE house. fargo has 15-20 $1M plus houses and they are MASSIVE with every bell and whistle you see on HGTV.

    but to another point; ive been saying for YEARS these people need pay raises. WE GET WHAT WE PAY FOR. why can’t people realize that this fact is no different than in the real world? right now we get a bunch of people that cant see voting to limit local government to 3% growth is rational…while at the EXACT same time they increase spending themselves upwards of 10% year (or more) is also rational. they want local building projects brought to a public vote, but dont think their projects should be brought to a public vote. we get what we pay for. almost always.

  • R David Adams

    Tear it down? that house is more than adequate and has no more problems than any other house built in the 1960’s. Its half as old as the house I live in. I have been in that house and it is nice. Remember Gov Alan Olson? Remember he bought a new airplane? Know what happened to him? He moved out of state to get a job!

    • RCND

      Hopefully Brescani will follow suit

  • camsaure

    Do you suppose it could be mold poisoning that is causing Dullrumple to be such a spendthrift/liberal. We better check Horvens house also. Most people know that liberalism IS a mental disorder based on a huge lie, maybe we have inadverantly found the cause. (maybe it really wasn’t all the drugs they did in the sixties)

  • DelawareBeachHouse

    Might return in the OMB bill at the end of the session?

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    Dalrymple would be making a huge political mistake if he supported a new house. Reality matters less to voters than perception.

    That said, if we continue to use this house, it will eventually become an old house that would have historic value, such as the New York State governor’s mansion (1800s somewhere). That does not mean the house should be neglected. It will need maintenance and even renovation. To get public support for a new house, there need to be news stories that compare the cost of renovation and building new, and there needs to be a lot of description of real short comings.

    As a North Dakota voter, I haven’t heard any compelling reasons to replace it. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t compelling reasons, just that I don’t know what they are.

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