Some Legislative leaders believe Gov. Doug Burgum’s proposal to use $50 million from the proceeds of the Legacy Fund to build a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Medora will have a very tough go in the Legislature.
Burgum’s proposal is a “2-for-1” match – the $50 million investment would raise another $100 million from private investors.
Still, Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle think this may be a non-starter.
"First and foremost, we're coming off of three bienniums of cuts," said House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D-Fargo). "State employees haven't gotten raises, communities have felt cuts to emergency medical services, behavioral health services and long term care. We need to get that back up."
Boschee said once the communities are back and healthy, with dependable funding, then lawmakers can have conversations about some of the other Legacy projects.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson said he made a “counter offer” to Burgum on the $50 million figure. He said there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm about this among his caucus.
Boschee said he also isn’t in favor of building a new State Hospital in Jamestown.
Burgum has proposed a new State Hospital, converting the existing hospital into prison space for the men who would be moved from the Missouri River Correctional Center in Bismarck, to make room for the women who would be moved from the women’s correctional center in New England.
Boschee said he would rather see more funding for regional and local behavioral health treatment.
"We want to make sure we're taking care of people where they're at," Boschee said. "We shouldn't have to depend on the Highway Patrol or a county sheriff to bring someone to Jamestown to be held for their own safety, when they can do it in their own community, or within at least 50 to 100 miles of home."
Boschee said he does give Burgum credit for “getting creative” and having a vision. He said his opposition to a new State Hospital might not prevent moving the women from New England to Bismarck.
"The idea is -- how can we use that facility in New England?" Boschee said. "A behavioral health center? Or can it be used for just the Western part of North Dakota?"