Mr. Doug Burgum on his first priorities as Governor…
The first priority will be to reduce state government spending and re-focus on our core priorities. North Dakota recently resolved nearly 80 percent of a record $1.1 billion general fund budget shortfall by draining our $330 million ending balance and emptying the vast majority of our $575 million rainy day fund, depleting a decade of savings in an afternoon. The remaining cuts were achieved by a 4.05 percent budget cut.
State oil revenue receipts from the gross production tax and oil extraction are also falling short by another $1 billion, which compounds the budget pressures across dozens of the other dedicated funding buckets outside the general fund.
And just this week, state revenue figures for January were released, which showed tax revenues are down 21 percent versus the comparable period in the prior budgeting cycle, and revenue for the month of January alone had declined 34 percent, compared to the same prior period. Our revenue decline is accelerating, not reversing. Solving the budget situation is priority number one, and it can be solved without raising taxes on hardworking North Dakotans.
Everyone who has ever worked with me, invested with me, or partnered with me knows that I am an optimist who believes in North Dakota and believes in our future. This fundamental optimism is why I have spent my life taking risks to build global companies in North Dakota by raising capital and attracting talent that strengthen communities.
I also know, from 33 years of making payroll and creating great jobs in the private sector, that to solve any problem, a leader must first publicly acknowledge the problem exists, and then dig in to assess the problem honestly and realistically.
Solving a budget shortfall of this historic size and structural nature is not a simple belt-tightening exercise. And waiting for commodity prices to increase is not a plan; it is speculation.
This fix will require rethinking our approaches and priorities. As governor, I will work with legislators, counties, cities, mayors, students, educators, retirees, healthcare professionals, business owners, farmers, ranchers, agencies, institutions, and more to drive a ground-up approach to innovation. By empowering smart, committed, hardworking, and passionate North Dakotans from all corners, we will accomplish much more than balancing the budget. Together we will begin the journey of making North Dakota the most exceptional state in the nation.
Global economic and technological forces are changing the world order, and they affecting every industry in North Dakota. It’s time for new and fresh ideas. It’s time for bold thinking. It’s time for a reinvention. I will bring all that – and more – to my first day, and every day, as governor of the great state of North Dakota.
— Doug Burgum