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Billion-dollar bonding battle

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 4:57 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - There are three gigantic bonding bills floating around the state legislature. Some focus on sustainable infrastructure, while others focus on sustainable funding sources.

But these projects are showing potential rifts within the Capitol very early on into session.

The foundation of each of the deals are based on creating jobs and fixing crumbling infrastructure. The roads, bridges and the energy sector have been getting the biggest focus. But the main difference in the plans is how entities get the money and the priorities for the funds.

For the past few months, Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., has been pushing his $1.25 billion infrastructure bill; $700 million of it going out as a revolving loan fund.

He says this is to keep the dollars in the fund replenished and moving.

“To create a permanent gift for future generations in the form of a $700 million revolving loan fund. And the beauty of the $1.25 billion bonding proposal is that it doesn’t raise taxes. Even one single dollar,” Burgum said.

Just this week, Republicans unveiled a different bonding plan. This one $1.1 billion, but rather than it coming out as loans, which are paid back, their plan focuses on grants. The difference being that grants can be more specific for applications, including finding uses for the Coal Creak station.

“We’re taking a look at projects that we were gonna do anyway. And instead of taking these two years off, we’re gonna do them with a bond,” Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said.

It’s not just the branches of governments with differing plans. A notable absence from the Republican deal is Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, who chose to not sign onto it. He says there some good things, but there some concerns with it.

Democrats also have a plan that looks similar to their $1 billion transportation bill that they unveiled back in July. That plan, at the time would’ve used CARES dollars. With all of that money allocated, they too are shifting to bonds.

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