Wardner: Infrastructure bill taking shape

Sep 4, 2018

North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said a bill for infrastructure spending is almost ready to go.

Wardner and a number of Legislative colleagues announced the proposal earlier this year. It would create three new “buckets” for oil tax revenue -- $115 million for cities, $115 million for counties and $50 million for airports.

Wardner said tweaks are being made to the proposal. But he said there’s a lot of support for the plan, because the benefits are statewide, not just in the oil patch.

"A lot of the non-oil entities didn't know this was coming," Wardner said. "It was kind of a surprise."

Wardner said governments outside the OIl Patch raised the question -- what about us?

"If you want to really drill down, if we're going to save our funding, which we desperately need in oil country, we had to make sure the non-oil cities and counties got something, too," Wardner said.

One lawmaker – Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot) – has raised questions about not having state oversight on what local infrastructure projects get done. But Wardner said that would add a lot more work at the state level.

"They've proven to us they have infrastructure needs," Wardner said. "If we were going to process every community and what their needs are, we need more government."

Wardner said having that kind of process is not worth it.

"We think this bill will help unify the state," Wardner said.