NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — There are 50 million reasons for North Dakota residents to get excited about the future.
Tuesday afternoon, Governor Doug Burgum announced a major donation to what will become the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.
During the Governor’s State of the State Address in the House chamber, Burgum announced that billionaire Harold Hamm is giving $50 million to build the new library in the Badlands.
Hamm was in attendance in the upper balcony of the House chamber on Tuesday afternoon as the Governor spoke to some of the achievements around North Dakota for the past year, which includes more investment in the Bakken and energy projects in the state.
Burgum says like Roosevelt, Hamm is another individual who arrived in North Dakota and who displays grit and determination to change the state for the better.
“And, so it’s incredibly fitting and a deep honor and with the deepest gratitude that here today in these chambers where the TR [Theodore Roosevelt} Library endowment idea was first brought to life. I’ve got the honor to make the public announcement for the very first time that Harold Hamm has completed a gift of $50 million to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. Thank you, Harold!,” Governor Doug Burgum exclaimed to a cheering chamber.
Tuesday afternoon, Governor Doug Burgum presented the state’s report card as lawmakers are returning to the capital city for the legislative assembly.
The good news, the Governor says is that the state is growing, the latest population numbers put North Dakota at just under 780,000 people. That’s a 16% growth since 2010 putting North Dakota among the fastest-growing states in the nation.
That goes along with a 2.3% percent unemployment rate.
The not-so-great news is thousands of vacant jobs remain hard to fill and inflation is hitting North Dakotans right in the wallet.
That’s why Burgum is proposing an income tax relief plan.
“It will eliminate the state individual tax for three out of five taxpayers. The remaining taxpayers will see their income tax reduced to roughly 1/4 or 1/2. Allowing hardworking North Dakotans to keep their money to offset expenses and invest in their families and their communities,” explained Governor Doug Burgum.
Burgum says if the bill crosses his desk, it will put North Dakota on the path of joining eight other states with zero income tax, helping attract new talent to the state and alleviating the current workforce dilemma.
The 68th Legislative Assembly kicked off Tuesday and the very first address was from Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure on behalf of North Dakota’s five tribal nations.
Azure’s main message was that the tribes are nations within a nation and have the right to operate as sovereign governments.
The Turtle Mountain Tribe and the Federal and State governments have a complex and difficult history, but Azure says now is the time for North Dakotans to have hard conversations about the past to better understand the present.
With that, Azure stressed the importance of continuing to have strong partnerships between the tribes and the State and having direct and open communication between tribal leadership and the governor’s office.
“There’s still work to do between tribes, tribal relations, tribal relationships. And, who we are is not only five nations but is North Dakotans. Strong partnerships bring strong people. Strong people bring strong generations,” said Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI) Chairman Jamie Azure.
The Burgum Administration worked with the five tribes to reinstitute the Tribal Relations Committee which holds quarterly meetings focusing on legislative issues such as taxation.
Azure says the five tribes generate $3 billion in revenue annually.
Other main topics include:
North Dakota is cash-flush with a $3 billion surplus and a $718 million rainy day fund.
Burgum is proposing the most expensive budget in North Dakota history at $18.4 billion.
Burgum says the number one barrier to economic development is workforce development. He is proposing putting $176 million toward the issue with $76 million going to developing more affordable, accessible, and better quality childcare.
Legislators have also introduced a 25% property tax relief plan that could be at odds with the Governor’s income tax relief plan.