North Dakota's Senate Majority Leader is working on a proposal for what he’s calling a “Gap Bonding Program” for infrastructure projects.
"The cost of servicing bonds right now is very low," said Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "It's around 1.7 percent. And it's going to stay that way for another 2 to 3 years, before it starts to rise."
Wardner said he has a list of these projects – which includes things like Minot flood control, the FM Diversion project and the Red River Valley Water Supply project.
"We're going to do them anyway," Wardner said. "If we do them now, they'll cost a lot less than they will if we do them 10 years from now."
To pay for the bonds, Wardner is proposing using a “stream” of money from the proceeds of the state’s Legacy fund.
"That would be getting Legacy money out into the communities, and dealing with infrastructure, and especially water infrastructure," Wardner said. "That would also include roads and bridges and things of that nature."
Wardner said the bill is a work in progress.
Investments from the fund's principle
The state Investment Board is looking at investing more of the Legacy Fund within the state of North Dakota.
State insurance commissioner Jon Godfread is a member of the board – and he’s been pushing for such a study.
A recent survey of economic developers showed overwhelming support for investing Legacy Fund money within the state. And there has been talk of an initiated measure to require that 100 percent be invested here.
"That's a big ask," Godfread said. "I have a hard time understanding how you would deploy $7.5 billion in North Dakota, in investments that are prudent."
Godfread said he wants to keep the conversation going.
"We've talked about this at the state Investment Board a number of time," Godfread said. "It's always seemed to fizzle out."
Godfread said some of the fund managers have said it isn't prudent, because of over-saturatikon in North Dakota.
"Again, it goes back to 'What's the purpose of the Legacy Fund?'" Godfread said. "By keeping this conversation fresh, could help move it forward and get to a good result."
The Legislature’s Legacy and Budget Stabilization and Advisory Board will also be discussing the issue at its meeting Thursday.