2017 North Dakota State of the State

Published: Jan. 3, 2017 at 1:12 PM CST
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Governor Doug Burgum has never held public office before begin elected to the state's highest seat.

Today, he gave his first State of the State address which was also his first time addressing a joint session of the legislature.

It's no surprise the former software-executive-turned-governor's first time addressing the legislature highlighted innovative technologies right off the bat as an example of how to lower government spending.

As Governor Doug Burgum walks into the House Chamber for his first state of the state address, he does so with a vastly different economic outlook than former Governor Jack Dalrymple had in previous sessions.

"Right now is the time to right-size government. To balance our budget without raising taxes. To fund our priorities and do more with less," says Burgum.

Burgum says Dalrymple's suggestion of a 10 percent government cut is a good start, but it's not enough, and the state needs to use technology to help make cuts efficiently.

"A lot of it was the right way to spend money and how to reform government. He's going to find some really cooperative members, at least in the House Chamber, when it comes to those initiatives," says Rep. Al Carlson, R-House majority leader.

"Well you know, there's going to be some areas of his initiative, his Main Street Initiative, where we might have disagreements. I tell you though, I'm really excited about what he talked about today. I love that it's going to be a shot in the arm, innovation," says Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck.

It wasn't all about money. Burgum says Dakota Access Pipeline protesters are camping in a flood plain, and come spring the area could flood. He said that could endanger both demonstrators and first responders.

"This is not an issue that will simply go away after the pipeline is completed. Trust has been eroded, and it will take time, effort and leadership to rebuild," says Burgum.

Burgum also discussed addiction issues, getting emotional while telling the story of a 19-year-old addict he met.

"Jail time without rehab is not a cure for addiction. We need to start treating addiction like the chronic disease that it is. By moving resources upstream, we will save lives and save money," says Burgum.

The legislature will decide whether to take this speech into account when they begin committee work on Wednesday.

Burgum also says the state must find an "off-ramp" from local property tax buy-downs. He called it a subsidy which entices communities to make long-term investments they may be ill-equipped to afford.