Folks in Oil Country Want Funding Restored - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Folks in Oil Country Want Funding Restored

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In a state where there is a surplus of dollars and cents., many people in oil country are having a hard time trying to make "sense" of why funding to oil impacted areas has been slashed.

Today they told the Senate Appropriations Committee why over $200 million needs to be restored.

Donnell Preskey has the story.

"I Feel like feeding the state's economy and making it prosperous but at some point in time you feel like the golden goose just has to be taken care of," says Vawnita Best of Watford City.

Vawnita Best traded calving for the Capitol today. She left her McKenzie County ranch at 5 a.m. so she could tell lawmakers her concerns.

"Its home. And to see it fail for lack of funding is not an option."

She represents the people surrounded by oil development. Her concerns echo what everyone else in this room has come to say.

"Request that the funding be restored," says Mountrail County Commissioner David Hynek.

"We urge you to reject the amendments,"says Williston Mayor Ward Koeser.

The Senate amended the oil impact funding bill, removing one-third of the money targeted at helping oil country.

"If the needs were listed it would give you an understanding of the fact that this is not an excessive appropriation," says Hynek.

The Senate Tax and Finance Committee removed $200 million from the oil impact bill.

It reduced funding to schools and cities and completely removed money earmarked for law enforcement, fire and ems...

"We can't impose load limits, we can't close doors. We need to educate now," says McKenzie County School Superintendent Steve Holen.

"We've been told this will be taken care of in other legislation. But you have to understand it's like having the bird in the hand or two in the bush. We feel more comfortable it stays in 1358," says Dan Brosz, the ND Association of Oil & Gas Producing Counties President.

"As it stands now, it will continue the day late and dollar short that has prevailed in the past.," says Hynek.

"The communities can't go through another 5 years, four years of what they have been," says Best.

People living in the heart of the "boom." Say unless changes are made to this bill, their hopes to ever catch up will go "bust".>>

Chairman Ray Holmberg says it's their job to make sure the budget is balanced... And besides oil impacts the Senate Appropriations committee is weighing tax relief. The Senate Appropriations committee took no action on the bill today.

Chairman Holmberg says the group could have a recommendation on the funding level this week.

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