Holmberg: Gov. Burgum's budget guidelines 'a starting point'

Apr 19, 2018

"It's a starting point."

That's how Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), the chairman of the North Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee, characterizes the budget guidelines laid out to state agencies.

Burgum has called for more reductions – 5 percent for smaller agencies, 10 percent for the larger ones, plus a five percent reduction in state government workers. K-12 education and Medicaid are spared cuts.

Holmberg said a lot can happen between now and the 2019 Legislature.

"At the end of the day, it's going to be the Legislature that determines how the budget fits together, based on the framework he (Burgum) sets down," Holmberg said.

Burgum talked about various rainy day funds that had to be drained to make the budget balance in 2017.  Some of those funds are starting to refill. And some legislators and special interests have talked about dipping into the state’s Legacy Fund.

"The interest from the Legacy Fund will," Holmberg said. "But any additional would require a two-thirds vote,which is a very high bar. Will it be talked about? Yes. Will it happen? Not sure."

Meanwhile, State school superintendent Kirsten Baesler said she’s grateful state aid payments to schools won’t be part of Governor Burgum’s proposed budget reductions.

"I'm grateful the children of North Dakota will not be impacted by this," Baesler said. "A strong commitment remains to education in this state."