The North Dakota Democratic-NPL House and Senate Caucuses today called for a special session to ensure that the remainder of $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act funding is allocated fairly across North Dakota and used to address the pandemic economy.
During a news conference, four Democratic lawmakers offered a $1 billion transportation bonding bill that would ensure counties, townships and cities receive $230 million in Prairie Dog funding they are planning on while freeing up $770 million for infrastructure projects statewide.
The bonding infrastructure plan also frees up money for priority needs that can’t be bonded for, such as education, human service, and other government functions as the state faces likely budget cuts.
The North Dakota Emergency Commission is expected to vote on spending $400 million of the $1.25 billion federal CARES Act funding Thursday, June 18, with a Legislative Budget Section meeting following the next week.
“No formal process for public input exists for spending $1.25 billion in federal money, compared to our general fund appropriation of $4.8 billion,” said District 11 Senator Tim Mathern, Fargo. “Fourteen districts are completely left out of the process. Citizens deserve to be involved in how we spend this money to recover from the pandemic.”
“The depressed ag economy is being compounded by serious road conditions throughout the state,” added Dist. 24 Senator Larry Robinson, Valley City. “In our particular area of the state, we have road conditions that are in such disrepair that our farmers can’t get to their fields to harvest the 2019 crop so they can put in the 2020 crop. This is a high, high priority, and our farmers are asking for help.”
Other Democratic lawmakers speaking at the news conference were Dist. 9 Rep. Marvin Nelson, Rolla, and Dist. 44 Rep. and House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, Fargo.