Now that Congress has passed the new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief measure, the money will soon be forthcoming.
North Dakota Legislative leaders say that estimate is the North Dakota state and local governments will receive between $1 billion and $1.25 billion. That doesn't count an extra funding stream for education.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said some of that money will go to cities and counties, for infrastructure needs. He compared it to the “Prairie Dog” infrastructure bill the Legislature passed two years ago. That legislation set up separate "buckets" for oil tax revenue, and that revenue then would flow to the local subdivisions.
"The 'Prairie Dog' didn't come in from the Oil Patch this time, but he flew in from Washington," Wardner said in an interview.
House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R-Carrington) said unfortunately, townships were left out of that equation. He said that’s something the Legislature will still have to deal with.
"We've got problems in the western part of my district, in Stutsman County, around the Medina area," Pollert said. "Those roads were inundated a year ago, and they're still in trouble. So we need to figure something out that way."
Both Pollert and Wardner say the amounts will be known soon – and with the Legislature in session, every lawmaker will have an opportunity to weigh in on how the money will be spent. Wardner said that money will have to be spent on one-time projects, and cannot become part of ongoing government expenses.