Themes emerging from ‘Biden Bucks’ pitches

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:20 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - State lawmakers are concluding the first round of hearings for the so-called ‘Biden Bucks.’

There’s still some time before an actual bill is written, but trends are starting to form around where the money could be going.

With one billion dollars on the table, legislators will begin vetting the proposals.

What would you do with one billion dollars? That’s what 35 members of the state assembly are trying to answer.

After listening to 192 proposals, it’s time to start building the bill, and they’re unveiling more details about what may make it and what will be cut.

Virtually every sector of the economy and agency of the state government was given the same rules: six minutes to make your pitch.

While speakers are against the clock, so are lawmakers who have to select which plans.

”We don’t want to say that a good idea is not a good idea. It’s just, it either doesn’t fit in what we have, or maybe it is something that is complex enough that we wouldn’t have time to get our arms around it in this short period of time,” said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.

While proposals fly across the Capitol, themes are emerging.

Thirty-six would fund city and county infrastructure projects. Thirty-five for replacing and updating state buildings, and 29 for economic development.

But they all can’t be written into the bill.

“Once you get into the issues and you start working with them, you decide if they’re things that need to be now, or can they wait? And that’ll be the main question,” said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

The amounts requested aren’t set in stone. Ultimately, lawmakers will change the numbers during deliberations.

For some presenters, the amounts would change during their pitch.

In total, there are nearly $10 billion worth of requests for the one billion available.

The largest non-direct payment proposal is a $780 million investment in local roads.

The smallest request was from the Department of Human Services for vocational rehabilitation training. That request is less than $23,000.

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