NDSU’s Extension and Research budget is in bill SB2020. The Governor had cut their budget by 15 percent and today the Senate spoke loudly in opposition to his proposal by passing unanimously their counter-proposal which re-instated Extension and Research’s budget to levels of last year. That is what E&R had asked for. Not only that, but SB2020 as of now has also proposed funding for other initiatives such as the Livestock initiative to the tune of $500,000. Another is a Big Data initiative for $280,000 and $800,000 for the North Dakota Ag Weather Network. Cutting research does long term damage because longitudinal studies cut in mid-stride cannot be picked up and continued, amongst other reasons. They also set forth $500,000 for maintenance which E&R will have to prioritize. Central Grasslands got $250,000 for a director’s house so that he (in this case) can be present there instead of driving back and forth every week over 130 miles each way. The last house there (located in rural Streeter – no redundancy intended) saw its basement collapse years ago. There are many other details worth hundreds of thousands and you need to know that it will most likely get beat up in the House, but I would love to be wrong. We will know by the end of April when the Conference committee sure to be appointed finds its way.
Then the Senate failed to pass SB2040 – the $2 billion bonding bill which according to proponents would have fulfilled the concepts of last session’s Prairie Dog bill that came up short of money to fill its buckets. For now, roads and bridges hope to find $70 million in bonding and $50 million in a revolving loan fund encapsulated within bill HB1431. That also houses $50 million for the Ag Products Development Center/Northern Crops Institute. It is on the House Floor today but so far is down the list. The Senate says it will be done next Tuesday, extending the normal four day break of Crossover to seven days, but the House will be working late to clear its extensive Floor Calendar before their short holiday.