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Politics & Government

Legislative leaders: They're not 'budget cuts,' but reductions in increases

Wednesday – the Legislature will get a new revenue forecast.

And that will guide the final decisions on spending.

Already, budget increases have been reduced from what Governor Dalrymple had proposed. But Legislative leaders say it’s not correct to call those reductions “budget cuts.”

"Pretty much, every budget is bigger than it was last time," said House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "The only reductions are in their increases, not in their budgets."

Carlson says the reductions had to be made based on a revised revenue forecast the Appropriations Committees adopted in January. That forecast was less than what Gov. Jack Dalrymple had to work with when he proposed his executive budget.

"The increases will not be as much as probably had been predicted, especially going back to December, when the Governor gave his budget," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "We're not going to cut from the base budget, but we're going to cut the increases."

The forecast will be given to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees Wednesday morning.

Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks) is telling representatives of the North Dakota University System to drop references to what Dalrymple proposed for higher education in his executive budget request, when they testify before his committee. Rather, Holmberg says higher ed should refer to what the Legislature appropriated to the colleges in 2013. The House reduced Dalrymple’s request in light of a new January revenue forecast.

"The budget that some in higher education have been screaming and rending their garments over is still a 6-to-9 percent increase over last time," said Holmberg. "I think the wailing needs to stop, and we have to have a reality check."

The higher education budget is before the Senate Appropriations committee next week.

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