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Proposal for college buildings could be pared back

Waldron Hall at North Dakota State University, Fargo
Waldron Hall at North Dakota State University, Fargo

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee says he expects some of the proposals for new buildings on college campuses will be pared back, as lawmakers look to trim proposed budgets.

The House Appropriations Committee adopted a four-year plan for buildings – in which some would be built in the upcoming biennium, and others would be given time to raise matching money, with the promise of building approval in the 2025 session.

The price tag for that plan is $450 million.

"When you're over $1 billion overspent at this point, they have to be on the table to some degree," said Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Brad Bekkedahl (R-Williston). "I don't know if that means none of them will go forward, or some of them will go forward, but the four-year plan, however well-intentioned it was, has really disrupted a lot of the discussions about other bills out there, because it's so massive."

Bekkedahl said some projects may move forward this biennium because of the need – but others may have to wait two years.

"I don't dispute the fact that the institutions think that there are needs with these projects," Bekkedahl said. "But it's our job in this current spending situation to really filter out the wants versus the needs."

One of the buildings on that list is the proposed NDSU Waldron Hall project. It has a $97 million price tag.

"The Senate is going to propose that it goes forward, but not with the full appropriation the House sent to us," Bekkedahl said. "The idea being — 'This is the appropriation. We'll give you the authorization to spend more to build the facility. But you have to make up the difference, or reduce the project size.'"

Bekkedahl said the final details will be worked out in conference committee.

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