ND Budget Bill clears 2 hurdles on way to passage

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Legislators continue to work toward passing a bill that would close the state's more than $300 million budget shortfall.

Lawmakers have offered several different amendments to the bill from both sides of the aisle and in both houses, but none came close to passing.

As day two of the special session began, Democrats tried to pass three separate amendments to try to save services not protected by the Republican plan, but each time they were shot down.

The amendments would have used Bank of North Dakota profits to cover property tax relief cuts, would have restored funding to the Robinson Recovery Center and would have used $29 million in strategic investment money to get $56 million in matched federal funds.

"We're going to have tough choices on the budget. I hope we're going to prioritize the funds that leverage other dollars. This approach in turning down funds that double our money or come close to it," says Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks.

"I know you're tired of hearing this Mr. President, sustainability and being able to reorganize and make sure we get the resources strategically in the right place. And we got to have resources to do that," sid Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

After passing the Senate unanimously, the bill moved to the House Appropriations Committee, where representatives voted down amendments from both sides of the aisle.

"We just hope that it turns around and we do better, and that the legislative assembly can look at this early in January and do what it can for making sure that everything is correct," said Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood.

The bill moves to the House floor for a final vote.

One interesting note, Bismarck Republican Representative Mark Dosch, offered an amendment in the House committee to expand cuts to 10 percent across the board. No one on the committee gave him a second.

That means Dosch couldn't officially discuss or vote on it.

The session is expected to wrap up after the budget bill's final vote in the House.