Dalrymple: ND blessed but faces challengesBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Oil-rich North Dakota is blessed with a strong economy, but big hurdles still lie ahead, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday.
By: James MacPherson, Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Oil-rich North Dakota is blessed with a strong economy, but big hurdles still lie ahead, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday.
Record oil production has made North Dakota the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas. North Dakota, which has a state budget surplus of more than $1.6 billion, leads the nation in population growth, boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and has thousands more jobs than takers.
But the economic prosperity and a record population of about 700,000 people has brought problems, including increased crime, beat-up roads and housing construction and infrastructure improvements that haven't kept pace.
Dalrymple told lawmakers in his State of the State speech Tuesday that the state must address needs in law enforcement, infrastructure, housing, education and human services programs.
"Surplus funds have accumulated ... but we must resist the temptation to incorporate these funds into our baseline spending for ongoing programs," he said. "There are higher risks associated with any economy that is heavily dependent on the value of raw commodities and those risks must be carefully considered."
Dalrymple presented a $12.8 billion budget plan to legislators last month that keeps a healthy reserve but also raises state general fund spending by almost 18 percent over two years.
The governor's proposed budget also gives a greater share of oil-tax revenue to western North Dakota's oil-producing counties, and nearly $1 billion for road work across the state.
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