ND Legislators Say No Surprises Forthcoming From Dalrymple’s Budget

jackdalrymple

I spent yesterday in Bismarck talking with some legislators and other state officials who are in organizational mode for the upcoming session which begins shortly after the first of the year. They’re picking committee assignments, and seating assignments, and tomorrow they’ll hear Governor Jack Dalrymple’s recommendations for the state budget.

They aren’t expecting a lot of surprises. Legislators assume Dalrymple will increase the budget by around 24% to 26%. A few legislators hoped that Dalrymple’s budget accounting for this biennium would be a little more straight-forward than last biennium when roughly half of the state’s spending increase was hidden by routing that spending around the general fund.

As for what the legislators will do with that budget, the expectation is that legislators might mix around some of Dalrymple’s spending priorities but will largely stick close to his total spending number.

One area of spending that legislators seem unwilling to do is in the area of higher education. The University of North Dakota’s request for a $124 million medical building, being sold to taxpayers as “infrastructure,” is unlikely to get through the state House multiple legislators told me. They were also skeptical of the university system’s request for some 183 new employees, saying they’d prefer to see the universities meet their needs by reorganizing the staff they already have.

Of course, most of the legislators I spoke with are from the more conservative wings of both chambers. Feelings are undoubtedly different among the more left-leaning Republicans. I was asked if I’d be awarding the “RINO of the Week” award again during this session – apparently it had been a topic of discussion – and I said I’d make it happen.

Something that surprised me a bit, but probably shouldn’t have, was some resentment among legislators at Governor Dalrymple’s PSC choice. The legislators weren’t specifically critical of Julie Liffrig-Fedorchak, but the consensus opinion seemed to be that it was unfair to pass over long-time legislators like Rep. Blair Thoreson (re-elected in November) and former Rep. Duane DeKrey (who was seeking the appointment now that his term in the legislature is over). The legislators I spoke with said that both Governor Dalrymple and Hoeven before him were far to willing to award bureaucrats and staffers with appointments instead of picking people with policy experience from the legislative branch (something I happen to agree with).

I doubt this consternation will manifest itself in any overt way during the session, nor is it a particularly new complaint, so chalk it up to the usual friction between the executive and legislative branches.

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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  • NDConseervative2011

    An increase of spending in the amount of 24-26% in Dalrymple’s budget is absolutely profane. I hope the legislature will have the intestinal fortitude to at least keep the increase in the single digets, but I’m afraid there is a lack of backbone with the majority of the members. I do wonder where the leadership is, or should I say, the lack thereof. Rep. Carlson will fold like an old pup tent in the wind, and the RINOS will rule the day.
    Expect the 2013 legislative session to spend like “tax & spend Democrats”.
    An interesting spectacle will be higher ed having no shame in requesting an obscene increase in their budget. When you hire a liberal out of California to run your organization, you get exactly what you pay for, and as Chairman of the NDUS Board of Directors, Duaine Espegard has no clue.
    Being voted as the best run state is a joke. Take away the large sums of oil dollars, and you will end up with one of the poorest run sates in the U.S.
    One can only wonder how long the excessive spending can be sustained – I guess as long as the oil dollars keep rolling in, the Hoevens and Dalrymples of this world will continue to $pend-$pend-$pend.

    • two_amber_lamps

      Why return all those property tax overages when they can find new and dumber things to waste those dollars on? Much easier to spend it than return it.

    • ND Observer

      A good share of the increase is the $1.2 B in one-time infrastructure costs in the oil patch, and another $600-800 M or so is property tax relief. The increase is not nearly as drastic as it sounds.

  • Game

    I am guessing that a large % of the increase in spending will be due to FMAP changes.
    I missed out on the Julie Liffrig-Fedorchak discussion last week, but I want to add my two cents. First off, of course the legislators want one of their own to be
    appointed. However, the Legislators come to town for 80 days every two
    years. To pretend that by default, they are more qualified than somebody who works a full time job in the governor’s office is perhaps not fair to Mrs. Liffrig-Fedorchak. She was, by all accounts, a quality employee who served both a governor and a US Senator.
    To be short, I am guessing that Gov. Jack knew she was a professional
    and found her qualified.

    Also, if I am not mistaken, up until a few years ago, there was a reason the Gov. could not appoint members of the house and senate to state office. Something to do with voting on budgets or something.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Actually, it was up until this June when voters got rid of a silly provision not allowing legislators to be appointed to positions they have voted to raise the pay for in the last session.

      As for this:

      However, the Legislators come to town for 80 days every two
      years. To pretend that by default, they are more qualified than somebody who works a full time job in the governor’s office is perhaps not fair to Mrs. Liffrig-Fedorchak.

      Actually, one of the biggest problems in North Dakota is that the legislature, the elected representatives of the people, are far to in the thrall of full-time bureaucrats.

      As if working in government full time were somehow an inherent virtue.

      • Game

        “As if working in government full time were somehow an inherent virtue.”

        I understand that, and really do agree. However, I don’t think serving in the legislature is an inherent virtue either.

        The real problem, in my opinion with this whole argument is the process of appointments, by people other than voters, to elected offices. Why does any appointed person not have to face the voters ASAP? I am not saying special election, but why not just make the appointment be temporary until the next scheduled statewide election. Why should Julie Liffrig-Fedorchak get to serve two years in office before having to run for election? I feel the same way about the process of having political parties appoint replacements on a district level. If Gov. Jack had appointed Blair Thoreson, he never would have served one day of his term, and voters would have no say in who represented them for the next four years. That is a joke.

        “Actually, one of the biggest problems in North Dakota is that the legislature, the elected representatives of the people, are far to in the thrall of full-time bureaucrats.”

        I don’t disagree with you. What do you propose to change that?

  • Tim Heise

    24-26%. Holy Crap. It should 10% max and even that is high.

  • Captornado

    How’s that tax relief coming along??

  • Tom

    Wriggley/Fedorchak 2016 my guess

  • Tom

    Pick up anything on healthcare exchanges?

  • headward

    24% increase? Good thing we didn’t decide to just give us all a break with M2.

  • JW-USA

    If the state funds The University of North Dakota’s request for a $124 million medical building, before appropriating at least that amount if not more to help build a 1.8 billion dollar ditch/dike around the FM area, which will help out a hell of a lot more people than the handful of doctors that will leave the state soon after graduating anyway, then for sure the state has screwed up priorities.

    the time to repair the house is when you have surplus dollars, we have spent all we need to on Devils lake (nearly a Billion dollars) we need Missouri water piped east (right down I-94’s right a way feds be damned) to Jamestown, Valley City WF, Fargo and up to GF we need oil field county roads re-built and a new Airport in Williston, they need help building schools out West, and finally ND needs to start rebuilding US Hwy 85 to 4 lane from Williston to Watford down to the park, then from the South side of the park to Bowman. That alone would save scores of lives and years of wasted time and fuel as those roads can come to creap when Frac fleets move out onto the Highway.

    Back to the FM DIversion- While I’m not enamored with the project as it stands, I’m certain if there could be a way to get the CoE and the rest of the federal bureaucrats out of the project, we could locally build the diversion better and cheaper than the state and local portion will cost by the time this debacle is built.

    Let me write the damn budget, I’d move Social services from the counties to the state to relieve county property tax. I’d appropriate dollars to study consolidating and closing colleges and look to lease out Dickinson State and Williston State into the local school districts for use as 2nd High Schools. I’d look at pension reform and agency audits, as well a reward program for state money saving ideas.

    Just because we have money doesn’t mean we need to blow it. I shoot for 500 million extra to go into that savings plan and someday, perhaps not that long from now, we can operate the state budget just on the interest.

  • Rich

    Explain left-leaning Republicans please.

    • camsaure

      They are better know as RINOs or to a lessor degree progressive republicans. A simpler description would be a picture of horeven and dullrumple.

  • Sherry Gray

    Just a typical Liberal RINO Republican corrupt politician. Do you ND conservatives understand the Republican party is rigged as they are in bed with the Democrat party.

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