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'We can always do better,' Burgum says in first State of the State address

BISMARCK—Leaning on familiar themes of technological innovation, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said the state must do more with less during his first State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Burgum's speech came on the first day of the 2017 legislative session. Lawmakers convened here during a period of hampered revenues due to lower oil and farm commodity prices.

Burgum, a Republican, said his office will offer amendments to former Gov. Jack Dalrymple's executive budget for the 2017-19 biennium in the coming weeks. He called spending the "root culprit" in the state's budget woes, and he said state officials must dig deeper given uncertainty surrounding revenues.

"My leadership team is confident there are many ways we can make government leaner and more efficient so we can better serve the citizens of North Dakota," he said.

While much of the speech was focused on ways to improve government operations and budgetary matters, Burgum devoted a section of the address to the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline. He said he supported Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault's request for the remaining protesters to leave the camp in southern Morton County.

But Burgum also said the dispute over the pipeline, which would run near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, must be understood in the context of broken promises with Native Americans.

"This is not an issue that will simply go away after the pipeline is completed," Burgum said in his 34-minute speech. "Trust has been eroded, and it will take time, effort and leadership to rebuild."

To that end, Burgum pledged that his administration would have a "fresh start" in its relations with all tribes and would begin meeting with leaders of each tribe this week.

Check back for updates to this story.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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