Legislative Report District 22: Off to running start school budgets presented
By Sen. Gary A. Lee
The Central Cass High School Band performed magnificently at the ceremonies surrounding Governor Dalrymple’s State of the State address the first week of the session. We enjoyed welcoming them.
This week, The North Dakota Legislature began its work in earnest. The speeches and celebrations are over and the day to day hearings and committee work is the routine.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, meets every day. The committee deals with the various state agency budgets and any legislation requesting or spending money.
The Universities and Colleges presented their budgets this week, along with the Departments of Transportation and Commerce. These budgets are very large and complex. Sub-committees have now been assigned to work through the details and make recommendations to the entire Committee.
It was good to see some local people presenting at the hearings. As part of the University System budget, Tom Teigen, Director of the Agronomy Seed farm at Casselton, presented his budget on Wednesday. The Northern Crops Institute budget was delivered by its Director, Mark Weber of Casselton.
The Department of Transportation has one of the largest budgets in the State. The requested spending totals over $2.7 billion for the 2013 - 2015 biennium. This exceeds the 2011 - 13 DOT expenditures by $1.1 Billion.
Transportation infrastructure is a primary responsibility of the state. It is essential a high quality system of roads be in place to safely meet the needs of the traveling public and to provide an integrated network of routes to efficiently deliver goods and services.
The oil producing counties of the state have some very unique and significant infrastructure needs. The Legislature will work together to satisfy the essential requests of this region.
But the remainder of the state has long standing needs as well. Rural county and township roads in particular, need improvement. Additional funding is necessary to satisfy the needs of a growing agricultural economy. Agriculture still remains the largest industry in the state.
I support the increased funding proposed for the State’s Transportation needs. As subcommittee chairman of this budget, I will work to see the needs across the State are met.