Legislators react to Governor's budget requests

Dec 5, 2018

State lawmakers say they like a number of the things Governor Burgum has in his executive budget proposal for the 2019 Legislature.

But some say they have some questions.

Bismarck Republican Senator Nichole Poolman says she’s happy Burgum included more money for K-12 education, raising it by two percent per year, after a two year period of no growth.

"That's tough to do because not only do we need more funds for increased per pupil payments, but we have more pupils, right? We have many more children in the state. So to see that investment in K-12 education is exciting for me."

Poolman says she also likes the idea of reinstating the “challenge grant” program for higher education.

Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks says Burgum’s budget speech did leave some questions.

"He presented the spending half of the budget process - but we have no idea what kind of revenue number he's working with. So that's one of the things that's going to have to be explored over the next week."

Democratic Senator Kathy Hogan of Fargo, who chaired an interim Legislative committee looking at behavioral health issues, says she’s “thrilled” with the behavioral health initiatives outlined in Governor Burgum’s executive budget request.

"For the first time, we've got a governor who's strongly leading on this."

Hogan says Burgum outlined $19.1 million in behavioral health initiatives.

"Several people have asked, 'is this enough?' I said it's a good beginning."

Hogan says the recommendation closely followed the recommendations of her interim committee.

Another piece of that puzzle is Burgum’s recommendation that a new State Hospital and Clinic be built in Jamestown. The old hospital would be converted into a minimum security prison facility. Hogan says lawmakers will have to look closely at the details of that proposal.

"It was both a $35 million hospital and clinic, and so I don't know if they're looking at it also providing some sort of outpatient services, and what the details on it are. That's one we're really going to have to look at."

Hogan says she thinks the idea of consolidating the corrections activities on the facility grounds in Jamestown makes sense.

"I think there's a thousand moving parts."