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Burgum outlines spending plan for $1 billion ARPA funds

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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Gov. Doug Burgum releases his proposal for spending American Recovery Plan Act money at a Capitol news conference

Gov. Doug Burgum has outlined his proposals to spend the $1 billion in federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

And he also wants to spend some money from the ending fund balance – the money the state has in the bank after the last two year budget period ended.

"We're calling this plan 'Accelerate ND," Burgum told reporters at the Capitol. "We have an unprecedented opportunity to make major investments in our state right now."

Burgum told reporters – of the $1 billion in ARPA money, $423 million has already been called for. And with the $697 million unencumbered, he proposes using it for workforce and economic development, infrastructure and capital improvements, emergency response, health care and other services.

Burgum is also proposing using part of the general fund balance to give income tax relief to North Dakotans – up to $500 per year for the next two years.

"This, of course, would reward workers who kept our economy functioning during the pandemic, as well as those that have since returned to the workforce," Burgum said.

The ideas will be given to the Legislature’s redistricting session, scheduled to begin Nov. 8th.

Some Legislators have been skeptical of spending the entire $1 billion now. They have said the deadline for spending that money is 2026.

Burgum said one of the reasons to invest the money now is the threat of higher inflation.

"For us to be sitting on stacks and stacks of cash, earning almost nothing — some of it earns .007 percent at the Bank of North Dakota — that cash will lose value over time," Burgum said. "If we wait, that $1 billion might be worth only $800 million."

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