ND Gov. Signs Surge Bill

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The governor signed a $1.1 billion surge bill this morning to help pay for the growing infrastructure needs for oil patch communities.

Just 36 days into the 64th legislative session and already more than a billion dollars is being spent.

"I must say, I have never seen the legislature come together and act so exponentially and in such a determined fashion to accomplish a common goal. And by legislative standards this was truly a fast track and fast work," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, R-North Dakota.

That goal was to get funds fast tracked to communities strained by the oil boom, and $972 million will go directly to oil country to help with roads and infrastructure projects this summer. Another $128 million will go to counties outside of the oil patch.

"This funding will keep the development going during the 2015 construction season, just as the Governor said. Ladies and gentleman we needed that funding to keep things going. We can not have a stop in the development in infrastructure," said Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

"I want you to know that the legislature is committed to the infrastructure in this state. They're also committed to the educational system in this state and those are the two biggest areas that we've got to be careful of, that we have the money to fund those two things. There is no better long term investment than both of those two items," said Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo.

The bill needed a two-third majority to pass with the emergency clause, which made the funds available immediately. Everyone agreed it was a bipartisan success.

"We were honored to be apart of this bipartisan effort. We never saw funding for western North Dakota as being a partisan issue. It's more of a moral obligation to stand by those who are literally paying the price for the challenges that have come with rapid development of our natural resources," said Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks.

Only two lawmakers voted against the bill.

The funding breaks down as follows:

$450 million for state highway improvement projects in the oil and gas region.
$240 million for the state's top 10 oil-producing counties.
$172 million for the cities of Williston, Watford City, Dickinson and Minot.
$112 million for counties outside the state's oil production region.
$100 million for other cities within the top 10 oil-producing counties.
$16 million for townships outside the state's oil production region.
$10 million for cities within eligible counties bordering the Oil Patch.