Governor Jack Dalrymple today said he is pleased that the Legislative Assembly has held to his objectives to invest in infrastructure and in other priorities, to continue building the state's reserves and to provide North Dakota's citizens with substantial tax relief.
"The 2011-2013 budget allows for nearly $500 million in tax relief, keeping more money in the pockets of North Dakota's citizens," Dalrymple said. "It does not borrow or bond for general fund operations and it sets aside healthy reserves of more than $1 billion. At the same time, the legislature closely followed our recommendations to make major investments in infrastructure, economic development, education, quality-of-life services and other priorities."
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS
The Legislative Assembly accepted Governor Dalrymple's recommendation to rebuild and repair roads throughout the state; to provide impact grants to counties and cities and to fund water supply and flood control projects throughout the state. Funding for infrastructure improvements include:
Highways, Roads and Impact Grants
* $600 million to rebuild and repair state highways in every region of the state.
* $228.6 million for state highway projects within the 17 oil and gas producing counties in western North Dakota.
* $142 million for reconstruction and repair projects on county and township roads within the state's oil and gas counties.
* $60 million dedicated to the repair and rebuilding of city, county and township roads in counties outside the state's oil and gas region.
* $22 million in matching funds to help local governments cover costs associated with flooding, including the repair of flood-damaged roads.
* $2.9 million in funding to raise the road to Grahams Island State Park.
* $100 million in grant funds to help communities in oil country offset direct impacts created by the rapidly developing energy industry. All political subdivisions experiencing effects from oil and gas production can apply for funding. Eligible projects include the construction of city streets, municipal sewer lines and water lines to support housing development and funding to enhance police, fire, ambulance or other services. Funds are also available for school districts experiencing rapid enrollment growth.
Flood Control and Water Supply Projects
* $235 million - an unprecedented funding package - for state water projects. The funds will be used to construct an east-end outlet and to expand the west-end outlet at Devils Lake; a water control structure at Tolna Coulee; funding for the continued construction of the Southwest Area Pipeline and Northwest Area Water Supply projects and a flood-control project in the Red River Valley.
* A $110 million state financing commitment to the newly created Western Area Water Supply Authority. The funding will support the development of a water supply system that will transfer water from the Missouri River to communities and industrial users in western North Dakota.
PROVIDING ADDITIONAL TAX RELIEF
Dalrymple has signed into law a tax relief package of nearly $500 million. The package provides $342 million in property tax relief and $147 million in income tax relief. The tax relief package is made up of:
* $342 million in property tax relief for homeowners, farmers, ranchers and commercial businesses during the 2011-2013 biennium. The property tax reduction continues the state's 70-percent funding commitment to school districts. The owner of a $150,000 home will realize a property tax reduction of about $506 a year. The average property tax savings will range from 15 percent to 19 percent.
* $120 million in individual income tax relief across all tax brackets. Combined with action taken during the 2009 session, North Dakotans will realize a 30.2 percent reduction in their income tax.
* A reduction in corporate income taxes of 19.5 percent, saving businesses $25 million.
* An average tax reduction of 7 percent for financial institutions, resulting in about $2 million in tax savings.
Creating jobs and opportunities is our over-arching strategy for economic growth. The Legislative Assembly has supported the Governor's initiatives for job creation by funding the following:
* A total of $15.5 million for Centers of Research Excellence and other similar programs, including workforce enhancement grants, technology-based entrepreneurship grants, and the newly created Small Business Technology Investment program.
* $550,000 in added funding for the North Dakota Trade Office, which has helped increase state merchandise exports by 112 percent since 2005.
* $3.1 million appropriated to the Department of Human Services for recruiting, training, and retention of child care providers.
* Increased funding for the American Indian Business Development Office.
ENERGY AND AGRICULTURE
North Dakota's leading industries are helping to shape the state's future. We are committed to their responsible development. Key measures include:
* $25 million in loan guarantees for the development of biomass-to-energy projects.
* $740,000 for the extension of North Dakota's Blender Pump program, the nation's most advanced program in bringing multi-blend, renewable fuels to the market. The program provides retailers with cost-share grants for installation of biofuel blender pumps.
* The addition of 12 new field inspector positions to enhance oversight of North Dakota's oil and gas industry.
* A $1.4 million enhancement to the Beginning Farmer Revolving Loan Program.
* $2.1 million for research and education targeted at enhancing soil health and productivity and $490,000 to improve livestock management at the NDSU Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension Service.
* Deer depredation funding available statewide to protect farm hay supplies.
The Legislature has acted on the final recommendations of the Commission on Education Improvement by providing funding aimed at improving the quality of instruction in our schools.
K-12 education measures and funding include:
* $997 million in state funding for K-12 schools, an increase of $102.5 million over the last biennium. Of the increased funding, $54.3 million will address adequacy in school districts across the state, ensuring that all students receive the resources they need to succeed. The funding represents the final recommendation developed by the Governor's Commission on Education Improvement in response to the legal settlement reached by the State of North Dakota and nine plaintiff school districts.
* School districts will receive a per-student payment of $3,910 the first year of the biennium and per-student payment of $3,980 the second year. At least 70 percent of all new operating dollars are dedicated to teacher compensation.
* A $5 million increase for transportation expenditures, raising the reimbursement rate for school bus transportation.
* A continuing appropriation of $2.3 million for a mentorship program to select and train experienced teachers who will serve as mentors for first-year teachers.
* $625,000 to expand the Gearing Up For Kindergarten program, a series of classes created to help parents prepare their four-year-old children for kindergarten.
* Enhanced career guidance to better prepare students for jobs and advanced education.
* A new bullying prevention law that fosters a safe school environment. The law defines bullying and outlines prevention policies to be followed by North Dakota's public schools.
* $20 million for grants to support and expand career and technical education course offerings.
Our high-quality institutions of higher learning are preparing our youth for tomorrow's workforce and serve as an economic engine for the state. Higher Education funding includes:
* A total biennial budget of $764.6 million, consisting of $655.8 million from the State General Fund and $108.8 million in other funding sources.
* $15.2 million for distribution to campuses to minimize tuition increases and to address funding inequities.
* Increased funding of $10 million for scholarships for North Dakota students who perform well in high school and attend North Dakota colleges.
* $5.8 million to enhance healthcare education programs by expanding UND Medical School enrollment; creating a Masters in Public Health degree program; creating a geriatrics program and increasing funding for the statewide nursing consortium.
* $1 million to support non-beneficiary students who attend North Dakota tribal colleges.
Higher Ed Infrastructure (includes total funding)
* $20.5 million for a the state University System information technology center on the UND campus.
* $9.5 million for construction of the third and final phase of the $34.9 million Research Greenhouse Complex at NDSU. Total state investment in the project is $27.4 million.
o $13.7 million for the geothermal energy project at Minot State University.
o $11 million for major repairs at existing facilities, a 66 percent increase over current funding.
o $10.5 million to build an addition and refurbish the Rhoades Science Center at Valley City State University.
o $10.5 million for the Bisek Hall diesel technology building at North Dakota State College of Science.
o $4.3 million to complete the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence building.
o $1.5 million for a new plant services building at Bismarck State College.
o $1.3 million to complete an addition and renovation project at Williston State College's Science Center.
o $1.5 million for campus improvements at Williston State College.
SUPPORTING PUBLIC SAFETY
North Dakota is one of the safest states in the nation, and the Legislature has authorized several measures to help ensure public safety, including:
* Funding to hire two additional troopers to enforce truck weight regulations and other traffic laws in western North Dakota.
* $1.2 million in one-time funding for the Highway Patrol to replace outdated analog radio equipment.
* A prohibition on texting while driving.
* $3.6 million to upgrade communications equipment and to enhance State Radio tower coverage.
* Authorizing four full-time positions for regional emergency management coordinators currently filled by temporary positions.
* Adoption of a teen licensing program to help keep teen drivers safe by extending the permit period; restricting night-time driving and prohibiting the use of electronic communication devices while driving.
IMPROVING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE
North Dakota is building on its solid economic strength to help improve the quality of life for all citizens. Key funding includes:
* $3.4 million funding to hospitals for uncompensated care when serving mental health clients.
* $939,000 for a Fargo-based, long term residential care facility to treat chemical dependency.
o Provides $49.6 million for a three percent inflationary increase each year of the biennium to help our hospitals, nursing homes, providers for people with developmental disabilities and basic care providers.
o Enhances the funding to senior service providers by $300,000 to help cover costs of providing meals to the elderly.
o Provides $171.4 in state funds to offset a reduction in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and to replace ARRA federal stimulus funding.
o $1.7 million in grants to support domestic violence agencies.
o $1.075 million for the Department of Health and the Indian Affairs Commission to provide suicide prevention programming and outreach.
o $5 million for loans to healthcare facilities to implement electronic medical records.
HONORING OUR MILITARY AND VETERANS
We owe our military personnel and our veterans our deepest gratitude, and we should repay our dept in meaningful ways:
* Completion of the $35.8-million North Dakota Veterans' Home.
* Extends the distance for keeping protesters away from military funerals to 1,000 feet.
* Enhances voting procedures for military members and their families ensuring their right to cast a ballot when serving overseas; one of the first states in the nation to adopt this uniform legislation.
* Establishes a Military Service Center in eastern North Dakota to provide military members, veterans and their families with a single location to receive a variety of services, including post traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention.
* Designates the month of March as Women Veterans Month to recognize the generations of women who have honorably served their nation throughout its history.
BUILDING A RESERVE FOR THE FUTURE
Our budget keeps expenditures in line with revenues and sets aside a healthy reserve of $1.056 billion by June 30, 2013.
* Budget Stabilization Fund $386.4 million
* Legacy Fund $618.6 million
* Ending Fund Balance $ 51.1 million
TOTAL: $1.056 billion