Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Governor Burgum Delivers First State of the State

He is a new Governor with new vision. Governor Doug Burgum was escorted into the North Dakota House chambers and sworn in as the state's 33rd Governor. Then he addressed a full chamber about embracing change. His tone was upbeat, positive and he seemed energized by the challenges ahead. He addressed the decline in revenues and the growth in spending. Burgum indicated that the budget proposal provided about a month ago to lawmakers is a start and that he and his staff will be looking at amendments to the agency bills.
"Given the revenue uncertainty, we must dig deeper. Right now is the time to right-size government," said Burgum.
Burgum said the state will examine its revenue forecasting system. He indicated that the current model has continued to not accurately reflecting the linkage between lower commodity prices and sales tax collections. Burgum said, "many big decisions have had to be made with limited or poor data."
Burgum also focused on tax reform. "The state should find an 'off-ramp' to remove itself from the local property-tax-buydown business, without simply shifting the burden back to local political subdivisions. Time has shown that our current buydown program approach has multiple shortcomings," he said. Burgum did not go into further detail but did indicate that true long-term property tax reform requires reducing the cost of local government.
He reflected on a personal experience with an individual dealing with addiction and homelessness. Burgum told lawmakers the state much start treating addiction differently.
Burgum ended he speech emphasizing the need for all branches of government to reinvent better ways to serve the citizens of North Dakota. 

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