BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota's future looks very different today than it did in 2014, the last time Governor Jack Dalrymple advised lawmakers on how to prepare the state's budget.
Still, in his last time addressing the legislature, Dalrymple expressed confidence the state could come up with creative solutions to scale back, while increasing reserves by more than a billion dollars over the next two years.
Even as Governor Dalrymple prepares to leave office in about a week, this more than $13 billion budget proposal is not only his duty but also his way of trying to ensure his fingerprints stay on the state's economic policy over the next two years.
After a standing ovation welcomed him into the House Chamber to deliver his final budget address, Governor Jack Dalrymple didn't mince words when it comes to the state's financial struggles.
"The kinds of price drops experienced in our two major industries of energy and agriculture are best described not as a correction but rather as a collapse," says Dalrymple.
For the governor's proposed budget, he asked most agencies to cut around 10 percent and then found $60 million more in savings, bringing the budget to around the 2013 level.
"The only people who can spend money are us, and the only people who can pass laws are us, and to work in concert with the government for the betterment of the state is what we're going to do," says Rep. Al Carlson, House Majority Leader.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are also concerned about a possible levy on elder-care providers to keep the budget down.
"As a state, we've cut corporate and individual income tax by $1.5 million, yet we now need to go to senior citizens and charge them a five percent tax and their long-term care facilities. That's a really tough message to bring home, and I think that's one that Democrats are really going to want to look long and hard at," says Rep. Corey Mock, House Minority Leader.
"We probably all agree that it is more fun to have a surplus of revenue than to have less revenue. We are forced to make hard choices about our priorities just like all North Dakotans make in their daily lives," says Dalrymple.
Overall, this recommended budget is 21 percent lower than the 2015 legislative budget and calls for 583 fewer full time employees in state government. Three-hundred-fifteen of those cuts will come from higher education.
The budget proposal also calls for moving all of the state's tobacco prevention programming back into the Department of Health.
During his address, Dalrymple thanked law enforcement, specifically Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, Major General Alan Dohrman of the North Dakota National Guard and Colonel Mike Gerhart of the Highway Patrol for their work during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.