Slashing state budgets has been so significant that it has been characterized by Gov. Doug Burgum as a historic move on the part of lawmakers, who will continue to adjust the bottom line during the second half of the legislative session as they face a budget gap of more than $500 million.
Legislators have tackled the challenges of the second half of the session with pledges to not raise taxes. Any remnants of optimism have been dashed as tax revenues continue to decline.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said there have been no surprises, albeit painful, and “most of the agencies were up front and most were very supportive of the governor’s budget.”
Not that Burgum saw full support for some of his cost-saving initiatives.
Two of Burgum’s budget ideas were rejected by lawmakers early on: one for a 5 percent nursing home tax and the other for state employees to pay 5 percent of health insurance costs. Though Burgum said it’s disappointing to have those ideas rejected, they could emerge again in the second half of the session.