In my father’s opinion, it was nuts to take out a loan to go on vacation. I agree with that and it was the analogy used yesterday when discussing the water budget and funding with the Legislature’s water guru, Representative Jim Schmidt. He would like to build a reserve fund for water so that projects can use cash. If I understood him correctly, he would use unanticipated oil revenues over the next several years to build it up to a cap around $350 million. That wish could happen but that big of a funding change will probably need more time to discuss than this session would allow. The $75 million in ARPA funds are being discussed and may be moved around a bit, but that total amount will probably go to the Dept. of Water Resources.
There is $100 million for county roads and bridges but a disagreement as some want to designate half for roads and half for bridges while others simply want to send out the total to counties and let them decide where to put their money. It was an 11-10 vote on the motion in House Appropriations to let counties use their own priorities, which then was approved on a 19-2 vote on the bill. It could change on the floor but it looks good for local control on that one. $17 million will be going to townships with potentially more coming depending on the matchability (probably not a real word) to Federal funds.
Also, $8.2 million for some SBARE needs with an attempt for getting more sheds for Research and Extension, but it could be difficult at this point.