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Burgum: Don't wait until 2024 to spend $1 billion in federal COVID relief money

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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Gov. Doug Burgum speaks to 2021 Greater North Dakota Chamber Policy Summit in Bismarck

Gov. Doug Burgum wants to see a special session to deal with the $1 billion of federal American Rescue Plan Act money the state has received.

That money has been received, and is now sitting in the Bank of North Dakota.

"That money was not given to us so we could take our checking account balance from $2 billion to $3 billion," Burgum told the Greater North Dakota Chamber's annual Policy Summit in Bismarck.

As to when this special session could take place, Burgum said in an interview with Prairie Public there are a couple of options. One would be the redistricting session, projected for November.

"The question is — would, at that same time, take up some of the opportunities to strategically invest federal ARPA dollars in things that have a high return on investment for North Dakota," Burgum said. "Or would you have a separate gathering of the Legislature, to separate redistricting from the investment session?"

Burgum said he’s been having discussions with Legislative leaders on what’s the best way to go. He also said he’s asking for suggestions for one-time spending projects. Burgum said some of those may have some timing issues.

"If dollars could be appropriated this fall, then contracts could be bid this winter, and they could hit the 2022 construction season," Burgum said. "That's an additional factor the Legislative leaders are considering."

Burgum said the question would also be is a November session too late to allow for successful bidding."

"With prices going up on construction, there is an advantage of going into the market sooner," Burgum said.

The federal ARPA money does not have to be spent until 2024.

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