Murphy’s Law 2021 #50 – Spending Federal Money

October 28, 2021

The Senate and House Appropriations committees spent Tuesday, Wednesday and part of Thursday this week in Bismarck to draft a bill which is intended to spend the approximately $1.1 billion dollars which came to North Dakota via the American Rescue Plan Act. $317 million of this money had been appropriated earlier this spring in the regular session with the rest waiting until now when further guidance as to what the dollars were eligible for came down from D.C. There were hands out from many state agencies and other groups who wanted the money and the aforementioned Approps committees spent four days earlier in October listening to the asks which were about nine times greater than the money available. Your NDSGA made no asks specific to soybeans but rather focused on Agriculture in general and we had some success. Instead, we did advocate for roads, bridges and water related projects as well as SBARE priorities. Concerning SBARE, the bill moving forward for the Session, which by all accounts will begin November 8, does include about $8 million for projects of NDSU Extension and Research at RECs in Carrington, Streeter (Central Grasslands), Hettinger and Dickinson. We also tried to get seven storage sheds for expensive equipment at many of the centers but failed in this regard as the Senate supported but the House did not. For water, the Water Resources Department (until this year the State Water Commission) was awarded $75 million to be disbursed as they see fit. The House had wanted to spend $25 million and reserve $50 million for later budgets but the Senate prevailed by stating that if that were the case their inclusion in the upcoming special session might as well wait for the next regular session in 2023.
We had asked for $30 million for township roads and bridges which was pulled as a specific item on Wednesday. One of the biggest advocates for this money is Senator Wanzek and because he made the motion to remove it and stated that it was covered elsewhere, I was not worried. The answer will become clearer during the special session if not sooner.