BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Conference committees will rule at the Capitol this week, as North Dakota legislators continue seeking to reconcile bills. Lawmakers' goal of finishing 10 days before a required May 1 deadline is looking fantastical, with several contentious measures and unfinished budget bills still to work through. Some of the major issues in play:
STATE EMPLOYEE BUYOUTS
North Dakota's top budget writer says several state employees already have expressed interest in taking voluntary buyouts to help balance the state's books.
Ten North Dakota cabinet-level agencies last week sent letters to some 3,600 employees asking whether they want to exit state employment early due to the state's woeful financial picture. The most recent estimates are that revenues will fall about $448 million short of the state's proposed $4.3 billion general fund spending plan for the next two-year budget cycle.
Budget director Pam Sharp says applications and other inquiries about the early buyouts began immediately after they were announced. Options range from a lump-sum payout of three months' salary to accepting no pay but staying on the state's health insurance plan for a year.