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Legislature passes Dept. of Commerce budget

The budget for the state’s Department of Commerce is on its way to Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

It’s a $127.5 million dollar budget. It contains one-time spending on flood impact grants, unmanned aircraft and tribal colleges.

Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) said the bill deals with a lot of – as he put it – “corporate welfare, cronyism, favoritism and pork-barrel spending.”

"In essence, really, it's the culmination of the good intentions of politicians and bureaucrats to try and fix something, to do a little social engineering," said Becker. He told his House colleagues one area he objects to is the grants to tribal colleges for workforce development programs.

"I think that we let our empathy for the plight of the American Indian cloud our judgement," said Becker. "I believe it was a mistake that we transgressed the boundary between the state and sovereign Indian nation by providing money for Indian colleges."

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) said the tribal colleges are helping to address North Dakota’s need for skilled workers.

"I believe, for one, and hopefully many of you believe as well, that the answer to changing the culture and the answer to changing the unemployment rate for the people on the reservations is education," saiod Kasper.

The bill passed the House 56 to 33 – and later passed the Senate 45 to 2.

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