RECAP: North Dakota State of the State
Governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, gave his state of the state for the year of 2023. In this address, Burgum talked about several ways to improve the state, with the main points of focus surrounding the state’s overall economy, clean energy, and the workforce.
Governor Burgum’s first major focus surrounding the state’s economy included improving the opportunities for farmers. The Governor’s main goal here is to open up opportunities for farmers to grow their income around livestock and poultry. He highlighted the state’s weaknesses in this area, as well as how far below their neighboring states they currently sit. To solve the restrictions that farmers currently face when it comes to livestock, Governor Burgum wants to introduce what he is calling “farm freedom legislation.”
His second economical focus was on the state’s attractions and tourist areas. Burgum’s first proposal included investing $51 million in improving state parks and recreational locations all across the state. Alongside this, he proposed a 50 million-dollar investment towards planning and constructing new and unique attractions. Burgum also announced that the state would be working with the National Park Service to repair the Painted Canyon Visitor Center in an effort to bring it back to life. Burgum’s hope is to allow the center to stay open all year round and have it exceed one million visitors.
Beyond these points, Governor Burgum also touched on the efforts being made to improve the use of unmanned aircraft systems, (UAs), in hopes that they will be able to expand the use of drones into the commercial sector. This includes a 30 million-dollar investment into Vantis, the State’s unmanned aircraft system, as well as a 7 million-dollar investment for the Grand Sky UAs business and Aviation Park.
The last area of economic focus came in saving the people of North Dakota as much of their money as possible. Burgum’s first proposal in this area is an investment of $40 million to create more available and affordable housing for the residents of the state. This effort also is coming with a push to adopt the lowest flat income tax rate in the nation. Burgum said that he wants to promote and expand the Income Tax Relief program. This program would look to eliminate income taxes for 3 out of every 5 North Dakota residents. The others that would still have income taxes to pay would see those payments drop by anywhere from one-fourth to one-half. Finally, the Governor expressed his hopes to eliminate income taxes on military pay for not just retired veterans, but also for active duty personnel.
Governor Burgum expressed the importance of clean energy in the state of North Dakota, both in the present, as well as in the future. He began by saying that North Dakota is on track to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. To help this process along, he proposed $500 million to help propel the Clean Sustainable Energy Loan Fund. This would go alongside a 50 million-dollar investment towards grants that would promote several clean energy projects, with the main focus remaining getting a handle on carbon emissions in the state.
Governor Burgum addressed several areas of the state’s workforce. The first of these areas was law enforcement. First, Burgum proposed $5 million in law enforcement grants that could be used by law enforcement agencies all across the state to help hire and retain workers. These grants could also be used to purchase necessary equipment to ensure the safety of officers. Governor Burgum also called on the state’s legislature to strike down a rule that prevents officers from receiving worker’s compensation until they have been on the job for five years.
He also urged the legislature to pass the proposed $10 million Innovation Workforce Grant, which would help to create programs that open up opportunities for graduating students to find a clear path to stable employment. The governor also re-expressed a commitment of $88 million to construct new career and technical centers across the state to help fill all open jobs, which he says amounts to approximately 32,000. Burgum finished his remarks on the state’s workforce by proposing $20 million in a grant program that would look to promote competition in many different sectors across North Dakota.
Other Important Points
Beyond these three main topics, Governor Burgum also discussed the importance of several other proposals and projects going on right now. First, he talked about his proposal to give $20 million in snow removal grants to help with the cleanup process from all the storms the state has been experiencing. These grants would be given to state agencies, as well as local and tribal governments. Second, the Governor is continuing to push the state to become the first in the nation to have 100% access to fast and reliable broadband internet. He mentioned the use of American Rescue Plan funds allocated for this very purpose. This push would involve laying down 1,100 miles of internet lines for 2,150 unserved or underserved addresses across the state. Finally, Governor Burgum mentioned the plans to construct a public/private military museum on the state’s capitol grounds.