Minot State Senator not keen on GOP Infrastructure plan

Jul 30, 2018

A Minot REpublican state senator is skeptical about the new GOP leadership infrastructure plan.

That plan – rolled out last week – creates three new “buckets” -- $115 million for cities, $115 million for counties and townships, and $50 million for airports. The money would come from oil tax collections.

"What was rolled out was sort of a 'Here's some money for you -- you're not asking for it or applying for it, we're just going to give it to you,'" said sen. David Hogue (R-Minot). "I have a hard time with that."

Hogue said he'd rather see an application process, based on need.

"Government works best when needs are identified, and then you spend the money," Hogue said.

Hogue said he still plans to introduce a bill to use the Legacy Fund principle as a loan fund for some of the larger infrastructure projects around the state. Hogue is talking about low-interest loans for such things as Minot and Fargo flood control projects, and the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, which would bring Missouri River water to the Red River Valley in times of drought.

"One advantage is -- we engage our Legacy Fund, and give it a purpose," Hogue said. "It doesn't have a purpose, and it's quickly approaching $6 billion."

Hogue said it will allow the state to accelerate construction on those bigger projects, and avoid the inflationary costs that go with the long-term projects.

"Let's leverage this resource to produce long-term cost savings," Hogue said. "Let's invest it in our communitiesm rather than the $1.8 billion currently invested in municipal bonds around the country."

Hogue said he has been getting some support for this proposal. He said the biggest pushback comes from those who say they don’t want to touch the principle.

"All of the principle is already at risk," Hogue said. "It's invested in bonds and equities. So you can't say we're not touching the principle today. The question is -- are you willing to invest a portion of that back into North Dakota infrastructure?"

Touching the fund’s principle would take a two thirds vote of both houses.