Funding fight for Teddy Roosevelt library starts in the House

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Gov. Doug Burgum made a push for Theodore Roosevelt's Presidential Library in his budget and state of the state addresses and he's continuing to make that push to the appropriations committee.

Burgum didn't invoke the emotional side as much in his testimony Wednesday.

This time he used numbers and a video from Theodore Roosevelt's great-grandson trying to gain legislative support. Burgum says the national park had more than 700,000 visitors last year and visitor spending was $44 million.

The governor wants to use $50 million in Legacy fund earnings as the state's portion. He's got high hopes for the park's viability.

"The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Museum would be destined to become the number one tourist attraction in North Dakota," said Burgum.

Some legislators expressed concerns with putting that much money forward, creating a scenario of who should go first."That is always a question of who goes first and it's always a leap of faith.

Does the state step forward with the 50 million from the Legacy Fund or do the big lead donors. I think it needs to be a combination of two. Those are things that need to be worked out," said Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck.

Mike Eggl with the Library Foundation told me they've got about 6 million dollars form donors right now and are working with others to see what the lead gift will be.

Eggl was asked about what happens if the legislature decides not to set money aside. He said it would hurt, but he doesn't believe it would sink the project.