BISMARCK, ND — A recent survey conducted by WPA Intelligence backs up major reform proposals introduced by the Dem-NPL joint caucuses during the 2019 legislative session and in interim committees, in particular a revolving loan fund for community needs (SB 2276) as well as a Legacy Fund plan to Invest in North Dakotans First. The WPA Intelligence survey said 79% of North Dakotans want the Legacy Fund invested inside the state.
Republicans have had almost 10 years since the foundation of the Legacy Fund to make a plan to invest in North Dakota, but they’ve done little more than use interest to backfill the budget as an afterthought. The result is that the legislature has to respond to a second likely budget shortfall since 2016.
SB 2276 (2019)
- Introduced by Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman in 2019, SB 2276 would have dedicated 5% of the investments made on behalf of the Legacy Fund to the Bank of North Dakota for a revolving loan fund – or $200 million over the biennium – for community needs ranging from child care services to natural gas infrastructure.
- It would have shored up communities now having to raise taxes, invested in local economies, and created property tax relief.
- The bill gained immediate traction with the private sector and passed the Senate.
- NDGOP House Republicans killed it.
A Legacy Fund That Invests in North Dakotans First
- The plan would return 20% of Legacy Fund earnings into the principle for investment while creating targeted spending on priorities that put North Dakotans First and help build an economy that works for all.
- House MInority Leader Josh Boschee and Heckaman introduced it in the interim Legacy Fund committee early this year before the pandemic.
- Proposed funds
- Workforce Development and Lifelong Education Fund
- Research and Innovation Fund
- Regional Economic Development Infrastructure Fund
- Student Lunch Support Fund
- Highway Tax Distribution Fund
- Human Services & Health Stabilization Fund
- ND Arts & Culture Endowment Fund
Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman said:
“If SB 2276 had passed, we would already be investing Legacy Fund earnings directly into North Dakota to help plug gaps in our economy by supporting child care centers, nursing homes, and bringing natural gas to communities that need it to grow. These investments would have helped ease the burden on working families and communities, especially in rural areas, hit by the economic downtown and lagging state funding. Let’s invest in North Dakotans first, so we can build a legacy that works for all of our state.”
House Minority Leader Josh Boschee said:
“North Dakotans are sending a strong message they’re unhappy with the way NDGOP has used Legacy Fund earnings to backfill the state budget rather than invest in North Dakota, leaving us reeling in another bust. We’ve been listening to North Dakotans, which is why we introduced a Legacy Fund plan that invests in our people, towns, and counties first. It would help working families stay employed, boosts natural business growth, and encourages a diversified economy that works for all North Dakotans while investing in the talent and resources that make us great.”