BISMARCK, ND — The Dem-NPL House and Senate Caucuses called today for a special session to ensure that the remainder of $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding is allocated fairly across North Dakota and to address the pandemic economy. Four Dem-NPL Legislators presented a $1 billion transportation bonding bill that would ensure counties, townships, and cities get the $230 million Prairie Dog funding they had planned on while freeing up $770 million for infrastructure projects statewide. The bonding infrastructure plan also frees up money for priority needs that cannot be bonded for, like education, human services, and other government functions as the state faces likely budget cuts.
The North Dakota Emergency Commission is expected to vote on spending $400 million of the $1.25 billion federal CARES Act funding on Thursday with a Legislative Budget Section meeting following next week. The Budget Section only has an up or down vote, which means six members of the same party are determining how to spend $1.25 billion, compared to the state’s $4.8 billion general fund spending. Fourteen districts have no representative in this process.
Sen. Tim Mathern said:
“No formal process for public input exists for spending $1.25 billion in federal money, compared to our general fund appropriation of $4.8 billion. Fourteen districts are completely left out of the process. Citizens deserve to be involved in how we spend this money to recover from the pandemic. Legislators have a responsibility to do our job in restarting our faltering economy.”
Sen. Larry Robinson said:
“The depressed ag economy is being compounded by serious road conditions throughout the state. In our particular area of the state we have road conditions that are in such disrepair that our farmers can’t get to their fields to harvest the 2019 crop so they can put in the 2020 crop. This is a high, high priority, and our farmers are asking for help. They need it now.”
Rep. Marvin Nelson said:
“We have to smooth out the boom and the bust. The state needs to have construction going when the rest of the economy is down, like now. We are behind the times and we’re building up this need for construction. This boom and bust is killing contractors, it’s cheating the public out of getting good value for their money. We need to do this bonding now to be responsible.”
House Minority Leader Josh Boschee said:
“The bonding bill is a way for us to save cash, to use smart investments when interest rates are low and to benefit our cities, our townships and our counties that were counting on Prairie Dog funding. It’s the right time, it’s the right opportunity. North Dakota has the tools to do this to make sure we make this money work best for our communities and for our citizens.”
Sen. Tim Mathern represents Senate District 11 in Fargo. Mathern is a member of the Budget Section and Appropriations Committee. He is Director of Public Policy at Prairie St. John’s.
Rep. Marvin Nelson represents House District 9 and lives in Rolla. Nelson is a member of the Industry, Business, and Labor Committee and Transportation Committee. He is an agricultural consultant.
Sen. Larry Robinson represents Senate District 24 and lives in Valley City. He is a member of the Budget Section and Appropriations Committee. Robinson is Executive Director of University Advancement at Valley State City University.
House Minority Leader Josh Boschee represents District 44 in Fargo. He is a member of the Budget Section, Legacy Fund Earnings Committee, and Legislative Revenue Advisory Committee. He is a Broker at Hatch Realty.